Aspiration Merges With Life Long Learning


Lydi Davidson AspirationHave you planted a tree from the tree give-away?  Do you have a grandchild who needed a little extra help to be ready for kindergarten and participated in Jump Start?  Did someone reach out to you about enrolling your child in 21st Century Scholars and then provide mentoring for his school success? Are you a day care provider who was recognized for the essential role you play in the lives of young children and then given resources to help prepare those children for school?  Perhaps you received help with a grant to bring a vision to life.  Then you are among the many people who have been supported by the community Aspiration!

In the spirit of “working together in new ways” – the Aspiration is merging with Life Long Learning to form the Quality of Life Coalition of Shelby County.  In order for this new coalition to thoughtfully solidify its reorganization and focus, the Aspiration Coordinator’s role has been dissolved.  Lydi Davidson’s role concluded on January 13, but her impact continues through the programs she helped launch, the many boards and councils to which she lent her expertise, and the collaborations that are increasingly being formed in order to truly improve our community.

“I’ve enjoyed working with the community and appreciate the opportunity I had to help move Shelby County closer to its aspiration to be the community where people want to live, learn, and invest.  Merging with Life Long Learning is a good next step and I hope it will be a model for how organizations with shared goals can work together to make a positive impact.”

“Aspiration was started through a SCUFFY impact grant opportunity, and we are very pleased that our grant has been instrumental in so many wonderful initiatives,” said Angie Davies, SCUFFY Executive Director. “Lydi has done a phenomenal job as Aspiration Coordinator, and it was my pleasure working closely with her over the last three years. Aspiration’s mark through Lydi’s work will have a lasting impact on Shelby County.”

Since 2008, the Aspiration has been supporting initiatives to improve Shelby County. It proposed a systemic approach to complex community challenges.  Guided initially by Susan Furgeson and then by Lydi Davidson, the Aspiration engaged shareholders in thoughtful conversation and targeted action.  It was designed to not become another organization trying to make a difference with its own programs.  Instead, its success was found in the behind-the-scenes conversations and the public meetings that worked to bring people together and move processes forward.  Several ideas born in these conversations became community initiatives such as bike trails, a community health coalition, and school mentors.

Given that education is a fundamental building block of economic development, early on community members organized into Action Teams addressing early childhood through adult education.  The Aspiration brought resources to support schools in their work to prepare students for school and career success.  A key accomplishment has been for all the county’s school systems to use the same assessment tool for new kindergarten students.  This allows for meaningful measurement now and into the future.  The Aspiration work dovetailed with the adult education and career success goals of Life Long Learning.  They worked together to form the county’s Career Success Coalition that has been recognized by the State of Indiana.

Denise Holland who has been involved in the Aspiration process since the beginning stated, “Many communities find genuine collaboration challenging when there are so many good people working hard to make a difference through their own organizations.  It is not uncommon for communities to jump into action without first engaging shareholders in thoughtful discussion in order to create a shared vision and investment. The result is often fragmented and unsustainable. The Aspiration’s goal has been to bring people together for collective impact.”

Many counties are facing the same challenges as Shelby County, but thanks to the spirit of the Aspiration, today we are further along in being able to work together to address those challenges.  On behalf of the community, the Quality of Life Coalition of Shelby County extends its appreciation to Lydi and looks forward to continuing to work together in new ways to make Shelby County the place to learn, live, and invest.


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