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Posted - 10/20/2016
Reflections on 2016 ITP Grant Partner Gathering - by Maggie Kaplan, Founder and Executive Director
image001.jpgAs we come upon the end of the year, it seems natural to share our reflections on one of the highlights of the year – our annual Grant Partner Gathering that took place this past October at the beautiful Westerbeke Ranch in Sonoma, CA.

About 45 people, including 14 current grant partners, former grant partners, and allies gathered “to pause” for three days.

As ITP’s hallmark creative “pause”, the gathering is now the second ‘pause’ grant partners are offered. The retreat welcomes allies from business, education and non-profit sectors to help our growing community share resources, learning, and networks.

We survey participants each year, and below are a few things we learned:
  • The Gathering helps people to think more strategically about their work -- 100%
  • Spending quality time with like-minded colleagues is re-energizing -- 74%
  • Learning about other interesting work in the field is valuable -- 63%
  • Being introduced to new colleagues is stimulating -- 56% 
  • Appreciating the ability to expand networks is important -- 52%
  • Forging potential new partnerships as an outgrowth from the Gathering -- 44%

Our survey results reinforce our core belief in the strength of peer learning, fostering new collaborative relationships, reinvigorate existing ones, and accelerating the impacts of the collective. We suspected -- and the survey confirmed -- the parts of the Gathering that provided the greatest value “for your work”. The four most valuable aspects of the experience included: 
  • Informal discussion at meals & breaks -- 85%
  • Listening to grant partner presentations -- 69%
  • Hearing from allies & partners -- 54%
  • Taking time from normal workday schedule & gaining fresh perspective -- 46%
We experimented with some new formats this year based upon last year’s feedback, adding a third day, providing grant-partner based entertainment each evening, and focusing on small-group conversations.  For the most part, these tests received a favorable response. The third day agenda had modest feedback regarding the more open-source nature of the approach, which will need some adjusting for next year.

The evening entertainment was a joyful highlight for participating guests. 63% felt the campfire and music; tribal dancing and Planet Protector party enhanced their overall experience.

We were delighted to learn that our non-grant partner guests (Allies) gave overwhelmingly positive feedback, and most importantly, share our commitment to helping our grant partners succeed by:
  • 87% willing to help grow ITP network through deliberate connections
  • 73% willing to help further grant partners work
  • 67% willing to share ITP application information with their network

We are taking this information to heart as we begin to think about 2017 programming and how we can continue to keep the dynamic connections developed at this Gathering energized. 

Stay tuned for some new developments, including a “pilot Impact Hours” Google Hangout for all grant partners in early 2017 curated by Tara DePorte, one of our current Grant Partners (modeled after the special Impact Hours post-COP21).