Today we’re excited to announce that After School Matters is working together with Hive Chicago to pilot a new strategy to broaden membership as our first Affiliate Network. Read on to learn more about Hive’s approach to membership going into 2016.
What Is Membership?
Links in the Hive Network are established through participation, collaboration, and co-creation in service of Chicago youth.
The role of organizational membership in the Hive is to recognize the benefits and expectations for the highest levels of participation.
Member organizations are expected to lead our network in forging new collaborations and engaging in open co-creation, which broadens the channels of participation for others. In return for leading the network, they benefit from resources provided through Mozilla network staff and Hive Fund partners at the Chicago Community Trust.
For the past two years, the network has facilitated open calls for membership in order to capture and recognize more organizations and to broaden the membership base. We remain fully committed to broadening our membership.
Why is this so important to us? Because broadening our membership:
- diversifies organizations in the Hive and the audiences that we collectively serve;
- makes it easier for current members to find partners with whom to collaborate;
- lowers perceived barriers for diverse and aligned organizations to participate.
Although we are not able to administer an open call this fall due to temporarily reduced staff capacity, we have taken a new strategic approach to continue broadening Hive’s membership while lightening the burdens of the process for all involved. The 2016 membership process features three key elements:
- existing members do not need to submit applications to renew and only need to complete a data form;
- new members will be drawn from organizations that submitted an Ally application in 2015 , were visibly active participants in the network, and would like to become Partner or Affiliate members;
- we’re excited to announce the piloting of a new pilot membership level that we’re calling Affiliate Networks that will recommend new Affiliate Members.
Announcing Affiliate Networks
Affiliate Networks are one key strategy to broadening our network membership.
We’re proud to announce After School Matters as the first to pilot this Affiliate Network membership category. Building on their contributions to the Partnerships Framework project, ASM is helping us take the first step to broadening Hive participation through affiliate networks.
The main benefit of this new membership category is the ability of the Affiliate Network to vouch for (nominate or recommend) select organizations from within its own network to join Hive as Affiliate Organization Members. In this pilot phase, ASM has identified 52 community based organizations (CBOs) that will be invited to become Affiliate Members of the Hive. If they accept our invitation, these CBOs will extend the Hive into new regions of the city and greatly broaden our members’ ability to co-create and innovate in service of our shared goals.
We’ve always known that some members are unique in their size and scope: they are more than simply organizations or institutions; they are networks in their own right. Each of these network stewards strategically cultivate their membership through formal relationships and assess their members’ impact. Each are trusted, established networks that the Hive could more strategically leverage to extend our mutual impact. Each offers an opportunity to extend the Hive mission, vision, and impact to spread our innovations and resources throughout the city.
These include current members like After School Matters, Chicago Public Libraries, Chicago Park District, YMCA Metropolitan Chicago, and the Chicago City of Learning.
An Open Network
So what do we mean by open network? Why is broadening our network critical to our continued success?
Yet a welcome sign alone is not enough to be a truly open network.
The ultimate test of a truly open network is the diversity of its members. If you can get past the Steve Jobs idolatry in this enlightening Medium post, you’ll find that entrepreneur and author Michael Simmons makes a compelling case that the degree of “openness” in your network is the ultimate predictor of success.
But it’s not that “being open” itself is a virtue, like “being in tune with the universe” or something. Instead, Simmons makes the case that the main value of an open network (one where there are no closed paths between nodes) is that it tends to increase the level of diversity in ideas, people, experiences, etc.
If we hope to overcome the persistent challenges to our transformational, aspirational vision, then the continued, future success of the Hive depends on our ability to keep our collaboration pathways as broad and open as possible to cultivate a rich diversity of participation.