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COVID-19 learning & connection opportunities: week of May 18, 2020

Announcing More Local Gov Cohorts

Posted on April 29, 2020


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What We’re Learning About Learning is a short blog series sharing what ELGL staff members are working on (and learning) from cohort-model learning programs that have been piloted or are being developed this year. Our staff is working with ELGL’s membership to discover what works, what doesn’t, what’s needed, and how we can best meet those needs across departments, expertise areas, and topics. Today’s post is by Emily Edmonds.


  • What I’m reading: Um, the full text of the CARES Act and the Coronavirus Relief Fund implementation guidance, in preparation for a May webinar for local govs. I hope it helps y’all. 🙂
  • What I’m listening to: Lofi mixes made by my teenager. Super lovely in the spring rain here in WNC.
  • What I’m grateful for: ELGL. Thousands of people around the country and the world doing the best they can with what they have in this crazy time.
  • Connect with me on LinkedIn or by email.

Today I’m supposed to be writing you a blog about what we’re learning about learning. And announcing some cool programs. And I’m gonna. I promise.

I’ve had a hard time getting started on it though, because I’ve been so overwhelmed by ELGL’s network of ridiculously amazing people the past few weeks. We’ve been doing the best we can to push out content, resources, knowledge, and opportunities that our members need – and you guys have been so supportive and amazing. In a time when everything else feels chaotic and uncertain, I cannot believe how lucky I am to come to work every day with people around the world who are so dedicated to making their corner of the world a better place.

What I’ve learned about learning this month is that even when it’s happening faster than we ever anticipated and in response to crises we never expected, the world of local gov is still full of talented, passionate, joyful people.

You are innovating faster than anyone else. You’re doing so to keep your communities safe, healthy, and protected. And you still take the time to send  emails, texts, twitter tags, linkedin posts, and messages of thanks and hope.

You guys give me so much gratitude and I am humbled by the joy and passion you bring to your work.

…which is why I can’t wait to tell you all about our upcoming programs, which are built on the ideas you share, the knowledge and resources you ask for, and the platforms you like. (Told you I’d get here eventually.) Our new cohort programs are ready for the world – you can read all about them here. We’re building them on three levels: Cohort Sprints, short programs you can complete in six weeks or less; Level Up Cohorts, skill-building programs that take place over three months; and Deep Dive Cohorts, seminar-style six-month programs that help you build networks and create policies, programs, and projects that matter.

There are two new programs in the series this month.

Tomorrow, Applications close for our first Cohort Sprint pilot – the Equity Ambassadors programon April 30. So far, we’re getting tons of interest, and I’m absolutely starry-eyed that wordcloudso far our word cloud from application responses looks like this. It will be a short, intense program with 40 people from governments all over the country, learning together, working together, and solving problems together. If you’re interested – get your application in asap. There’s a rockstar group of applicants in there, and we can’t wait for the peer-to-peer learning, virtual break room conversation, remote coworking opportunities, and amazing resources that are planned!

cpm logoThis week, we also launched the Creative Placemaking Cohort – a partnership with CivicArts that will bring people from all departments and specialties together to creatively address problems in local government. This is a six-month learning opportunity designed for busy local government staff who are currently working to develop and implement creative placemaking projects and processes in their communities.

The cohorts will comprise up to 4 teams of 8-10 individuals from different communities who will work together to learn from national experts, develop strategies, build project management skills, and identify solutions to the complex challenges that arise in cross-sector work. Best of all, this cohort is sponsored and supported by ArtPlace America, and includes significant scholarship funding to reduce barriers for local government professionals to develop these skills.

This month, our existing cohorts also made big strides. Our first innovation cohort – Small Places, Big Ideas – was able to successfully adapt or pivot their community engagement pilots with the support of wonderful vendor-partners and mentors to help them navigate this new reality.

We’re collecting proposals for our second innovation cohort, which has pivoted to call for solutions for both heir original ideas focused on community and economic development and also to seek solutions for remote governance, digital equity and inclusion, and building economic resilience to become pandemic-proof.(They’re due by May 13, if you’re interested!)

We had a great team at UNC-Chapel Hill’s MPA program pull together a survey and feedback from our first cohorts to help us better plan these programs and build remote learning and networking opportunities that meet the needs of our members (more details to share soon!).

And, we spent some time laying out additional cohorts for later this year on topics like grant writing, community engagement, data use and management, and more. (You can explore partnerships here and sign up to be a mentor for future cohorts here.)

With all that…you’d think I’d close this tired. And parts of me are – the same parts that get anxious about the future, worry about my kid, and obsessively run our budget, just like everyone in this crazy time.

But every day, I get to come to work with gratitude, meet people around the world doing amazing things, and find new sources joy and passion with them, in programs like these. Y’all keep me going, and you keep the world spinning. Thanks for all you do.

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