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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

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Clusters, Big Losers, TXNP Talent Bank, Public School Demography & Irving Cares
Jacqueline Beretta

September, 2007

Clusters: “Geographic concentrations of interconnected companies, specialized suppliers, service providers, firms in related industries, and associated institutions in particular fields that compete but also cooperate.” Interesting concept - so here are some thoughts on why we should encourage the creation of effective clusters in the nonprofit sector.  

As Harvard Business School’s Professor Michael Porter emphasizes, ‘Clusters are the building blocks of a productive, innovative economy’. In several parts of the country cluster development has become the basis of local economic development strategies. In our sector, clusters could be groups of related organizations that collaborate to grow their programs side by side.

The basis of clustering encourages a collaborative team approach which helps organizations, businesses, and communities develop faster, with greater quality, innovation and critical mass.  Collaborating in clusters also assists in resolving practical issues like training, and infrastructure while reducing cost.  Another added benefit is networking, and the sharing of ideas.

You might wonder why are some organizations more competitive and successful than others? In this age of accessibility, almost everyone has access to useful information which can level the playing field. So, today it’s important to understand that those who have a competitive advantage are more open and flexible to change and prosperity. When you put several organizations together in a cluster to address social and economic problems, you have a productive unit working together. With clearly stated rules of engagement, including rules for correct methods of participation, you will have a productive cluster of people who feel safe to speak and share their expertise. 

It seems logical that interconnected organizations in a local geographica area most certainly should have a good chance of success in making good change in their community. The work of the several working together is almost always better than the one that goes solo.

8.30.07 - According to Rick Fry, Senior Research Associate at the Pew Hispanic Center, in a report titled The Changing Racial and Ethnic Composition fo the U.S. Public Schools, “The 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in June to strike down school desegregation plans in Seattle and Louisville has focused public attention on the degree of racial and ethnic integration in the nation's 93,845 public schools. A new analysis of public school enrollment data by the Pew Hispanic Center finds that in the dozen years from 1993-94 to 2005-06, white students became less isolated from minority students while, at the same time, black and Hispanic students became slightly more isolated from white students.

These two seemingly contradictory trends stem mainly from the same powerful demographic shift that took place during this period: an increase of more than 55% in the Hispanic slice of the public school population. Latinos in 2005-06 accounted for 19.8% of all public school students, up from 12.7% in 1993-94.
In part because whites now comprise a smaller share of students in the public schools, white students are now more likely to be exposed to minority students. In 1993-94, fully one-third (34%) of all white students attended a nearly all-white school (this report defines a school as "nearly all-white" if fewer than 5% of the students are non-white). By 2005-06, just one in five white students (21%) was attending a nearly all-white school.

But even as the decrease in the white share of the public school population has led to a greater exposure of white students to minority students, it has also led to a diminished exposure of black and Hispanic students to white students. Roughly three-in-ten Hispanic (29%) and black (31%) students attended schools in 2005-06 that were nearly all-minority (by this report's definition, a "nearly all-minority" school is one in which fewer than 5% of the students are white), and these percentages were both somewhat higher than they had been in 1993-94, when they stood at 25% for Hispanic students and 28% for black students.

The report also provides detailed tabulations of school enrollment at the state level and finds that in nearly every state white students became more exposed to minority students since 1993-94. In many states Hispanic students and black students have diminished exposure to white students.” Check out the report at

9.22.07 – A neat story from Irving Cares, an organization in Irving, Texas that helps residents in need…..” Sixty-year old Tom has owned his home in Irving for 16 years. He was recently laid off from his job, but had not yet received an unemployment check. Tom knew he couldn’t pay his bill and was looking for assistance when he called the City of Irving Water Utilities department. The City referred him to Irving Cares where the Emergency Assistance Program was able to assist Tom with his water bill, provide him with food, and also refer him to the Jobs Program. He met with a Jobs Case Worker who helped him update his resume and provided job leads. Tom later wrote to the Senior Case Manager thanking her and her staff for assistance.” Check out all the services they provide formt he Food Pantry, Financial Assistance, Transportaion, Psychotherapy and counseling, Jobs, Medical perscriptions, and their great event called the Great Harvest. Click here.

9.21.07 - Nonprofits in Texas – and I mean all nonprofits, foundations, and volunteers……you all are my inspiration. You are the people who make our state tick. Your hard work and gracious spirit is honorable. I invite you to become part of the TXNP Talent Bank – we want to leverage your insights to explore trends, programs, your community, ways of doing things proactively, and find heroes.

I want to hear about leadership, your community, your dreams, good programs you are observing out there, ethics, responsibility, your heroes, and hope. Share with us all – so we can learn from you. Talk to me at Be sure to mention the Talent Bank.

8.24.07 – An interesting statistic. According to the Guardian Weekly, “The increase in global population over the next 40 years is roughly what the entire world population was in 1950.”

9.23.07 – I happened to turn on the TV the other day and saw the NBC’s new show The Biggest Loser. Totally enthralled, I watched the whole thing….these obese people struggling to keep it together – fighting like warriors in teams to lose weight. While Hollywood is cashing in on this one, there is another competition out there.

The residents of a little town called Varallo, Italy (northwest), under the leadership of their mayor, are cashing in for health. As the berautiful Italians have succombed to more and more processed foods, 35% of Italians are now overweight or obese.

According to the amount of wieght they lose per month, men and women can earn $70 per week. And if they keep it off for 5 months – they can earn another $280.
This is what is cool about this – the community as a whole is working together and feeling empowered…..this is the very essence of a cultural motivation. Plus the city is rewarding them monetarily….well- it is a way to nip the western trend in the bud.


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