Decision: Is incubating CPA-Denver the right next move for the Center for Community Wealth Building (CCWB)?
Yessica and I decided that we would both address this decision in response to this prompt, as we want to be deliberate, realistic, and strategic as to how we spend our energy and resources over the next year. We are working towards building a fertile ecosystem to advance community wealth building in Denver. There isn’t one right sequencing for our work, but we want this decision to reflect our priorities and beliefs about what will lead us to the promised land most effectively and in a fashion that honors a sustainable workload.
Possible choices/decisions open to us:
- It is the next best move for CCWB. We go after it.
- Prioritize other efforts right now and put CPA off into the future, and re-evaluate this decision in six months and again in twelve months.
- Abandon the dream of a CPA-Denver for the time being.
- Recruit a new partner that is ready to serve as the entrepreneur and organizing backbone for CPA-Denver.
- Implement the minimal viable product that puts us on a path to creating a full-blown CPA-Denver, but doesn’t require as much resources.
Choices 1-3 can be boiled down to Yes – we’re going for it; we’re putting off making a decision; or No – we’re abandoning this dream. Each requires that we closely examine our theory of change to determine whether the path we are on is the optimal path for building community wealth with communities of color and decreasing the threat of involuntary displacement that residents and small businesses are facing.
CCWB’s major priorities for 2020:
Engage anchor institutions
Strengthen local POC entrepreneurship
Within each of these areas, lies a robust body of work that is underway — truly enough for 1-3 FTEs in each area. It is also true that on the face of it, each of these areas is embodied in CPA.
In addition to these three focus areas, we are also creating infrastructure to become an independent 501(c)(3), which includes orienting a founding board of directors, completing the IRS application, and putting procedures in place that our fiscal sponsor has been performing. We are also advertising for a new program director level position and recruiting interns and a VISTA volunteer. We need to build a new website, an individual donor program, and a communications strategy. We also must maintain our grant writing to be able to finance our current and growing body of work. In addition, we must continue our policy efforts and collaborating on the local scene to foster an atmosphere of support and progress.
If we were closer to attaining our goals with our 3 major priorities, it would be a no-brainer to jump into raising funds to support launching CPA-Denver or to reassign staff who are able to back-off of their original work because things are in motion and require less intense attention. However, that’s not our reality — yet.
In light of my current level of fatigue, I’m going to take some short-cuts with this exercise. I can definitely see the value of having gone even this far with this exercise and my apologies to my team for not going all out with this prompt … but here’s the recommendation I have for CCWB:
Spend some time with Option 4: Attempt to recruit an individual or organization to take on developing CPA-Denver. The synergy between CPA and CCWB goals are very clear. It would be fantastic to build and grow together. In the event we don’t find someone to take this on, I think CCWB needs to stay on its current course and re-evaluate whether we are in a better position in six-months to take this on ourselves. If we are successful in filling our current positions with incredibly talented people, and have a good flow going (I am optimistic that this will be our culture), in a year we may feel ready to birth CPA-Denver.
Another alternative is that if CPA-D.C. is able to fund a PT position to focus on launching CPA-Denver, it would fit well within our current framework for building community wealth and give CCWB the capacity to serve as the backbone.
Option 5 doesn’t feel realistic at the moment. I’m a proponent of MVP and still think that is the approach I would recommend anyone use in building a CPA. However, that level of effort is still too much for the organization to take on without additional resources.
Again, I kind of feel like I flunked this assignment, because I haven’t been able to devote the time it deserves. But, it has been a great learning lesson anyway.