Launching Your ICF Chapter’s Ignite Initiative
2018 marks the inaugural year for Ignite: Engaging Humanity Through Education. This initiative is part of the ICF Foundation’s long-term strategy to advance social progress through coaching by aligning with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals set forth by the United Nations.
This year, the focus for Ignite is Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No. 4—ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all.
Ignite is an ICF Foundation initiative that is driven globally by ICF Chapters delivering pro bono coaching in their local communities. Since the Ignite concept was introduced at the 2017 ICF Global Leaders Forum (GLF) in Warsaw, Poland, 19 Chapters have signed up to participate, including ICF St. Louis. Below, ICF St. Louis’ Immediate Past President, Nicki McClusky, PCC, shares three tips for Chapter Leaders at the beginning of their Ignite journeys.
1) Build Awareness and Generate Excitement
When Nicki learned about Ignite at GLF 2017, she was immediately convinced of its world-changing potential, given what she describes as “the vital role that education can play in shaping civilization.” When she returned home from Warsaw, she began working in earnest to educate her Chapter’s members and generate interest in participating. From April to June, she spoke monthly at Chapter meetings about Ignite. Because Ignite coaches are required to hold ICF Credentials, she focused her outreach on the Chapter’s credentialed members.
Nicki’s promotional efforts yielded dividends: In just a few months, she had a pool of qualified coaches who were familiar with SDG No. 4 and were enthusiastic about delivering pro bono coaching in their local community. That wasn’t all.
“Talking about this for three months paid off,” Nicki says. “At the end of November, one of the coaches in our Chapter came forward and said, ‘I think I know the perfect partner for us.’” Following an introduction to a school board member in the coach’s network, ICF St. Louis began preliminary discussions about coaching and Ignite with the Kirkwood School District, a suburban school district in St. Louis County, Missouri.
2) Leverage Available Resources
As ICF St. Louis began its Ignite journey, Nicki says she downloaded the materials in the ICF Foundation’s Ignite Resource Suite. In addition to providing a road map for the initiative, the suite contains tools and templates Chapter Leaders can use in planning, executing and evaluating the success of their own, local initiatives.
Chapters that participate in Ignite are added to an online community on Basecamp and invited to participate in quarterly calls where they can share best practices and learn more about implementing, executing and measuring the success of their projects. Chapters have access to the Foundation’s Council of Ambassadors, a panel of subject-matter experts who communicate the Foundation’s strategy, plans and projects. The Foundation also has a dedicated staff resource for Chapters participating in Ignite: Program Director Stephanie Keally. (Email Stephanie at firstname.lastname@example.org).
As a Chapter Leader, you can also make use of your own network. Once the Chapter had selected Kirkwood School District as its Ignite nonprofit partner, Nicki reached out to a fellow ICF Chapter Leader in Texas, USA, who’d helped spearhead a pro bono coaching partnership with a school district there. Through this relationship, she learned more about specific best practices for pro bono coaching in public school districts.
3) Choose the Right Partner
From the Chapter’s first conversation with board members and administrators at Kirkwood, Nicki says the fit was evident. The school’s leaders were excited about coaching and open to the possibilities it offered. This is essential, Nicki says. “We paid attention to the energy of potential partners since we hoped to find a group that would be as excited about this opportunity as we were. … You need to pick a partner where the top people [in the organization] are really on board.”