In 2013 Impact Hub hosted the first cohort of Impact Academy, our social entrepreneur training program, and have since seen over 90 graduates through the program. Participants came into the program at all different stages, and all left applying the development tools they learned to their individual social enterprises. With a growing alumni community, we began to explore how to engage and continue to support this network, while leveraging our graduates’ skills in order to provide ongoing support for each cohort, and the extended Impact Hub community.
We thus set out to host an Alumni Learning Exchange in Spring 2015 – a day long open space peer-to-peer learning event capped off with a presentation on Failure. We wanted to discuss how to start talking about failure differently and learn from it, in order to become more effective and resilient individuals. Funny enough, it was the talk on failure that became the event’s success.
From the announcement of the event we immediately did not have the interest and engagement that we had expected. It was apparent that there was a disconnect in communicating the value of the event and what we had perceived the needs of alumni to be.
In the end, we cancelled the peer-to-peer learning portion of the event and opened up the Failure event to members and the public. We were able to make the most of the opportunity and provide a great learning opportunity nonetheless.
We also invited alumni to a roundtable to discuss areas where they needed support, and received input on the best ways to support their impact on an ongoing basis.
Learning and path forward
Our attempt at an Alumni Learning Exchange may not have been a perceived success looking our original vision for the event. But the pilot confirmed that our alumni do have a need for ongoing support, however before we jump into a conclusion on what the solution is, we need to take more initiative to engage our stakeholders and gain a better understanding of their needs. We will continue to work to engage our alumni and curate this vibrant community.