A Case For ExpansionFebruary 20, 2019 10:26 am
It’s a common question: “Why do you all want to add a second campus and not just expand operations on the first campus?”
There are many valid points that could be made to argue that we should stick to what we are doing- we know the area we work in, it would be logistically easier, and there are always going to be more people that need our help anywhere we work. But, our answer to that question, and why we have decided as an organization to replicate our model instead of grow our flagship campus in Kitongo, is at the very heart of who we are as an organization.
We constantly talk about how Mainsprings is a movement, a catalyst for change. In no way do we ever think that we ARE the change itself. We have created our approach to alleviating poverty based on the assumption that we need to empower our communities – from our children all the way up to the adults and government leaders – to be the change-makers themselves. After all, those individuals are going to know the best ways to address the many challenges their community faces far better than we ever will. If we were to simply create an approach that had us at the center of change in the communities we serve, it would not be sustainable, and it would not have the ripple effect that we are already seeing from our graduates and neighbors.
Sure, we could definitely take the capital we are spending on the Kahunda (second) campus and invest it in Kitongo. But, that would essentially be creating a monopoly in one area. While a ton of good could come from that, our campus would no longer be a “model”. We would just be a community organization doing a ton of good. But, the long term benefits of creating this model and proving that it can be replicable, we believe, will have a much longer-lasting impact on a broader network of communities for years to come. And, the change that comes from each campus will be much more sustainable. We will be able to reach more people, be able to effect change over a larger geographical area, and most importantly, we will be able to prove that an organization can have deep impact in each community, while also casting a very large net.
There are many organizations that boast extremely large numbers of their impact. That is what we mean by casting a ‘wide net’. However, often times, while the work they are doing is beneficial, it does not really dive deep into the complexity of problems that people in extreme poverty face and therefore only creates a shallow level of support for those individuals. On the other hand, there are many organizations who do work like ours, where they are permanently based in a community and truly diving deep into a wide variety of areas, but they are limited to that single location. In those cases, we say they have a much ‘deeper impact’ in the lives of those individuals, but are only casting a ‘small net’. We want to be both- proving that providing a deeper impact is more beneficial for our communities, but that type of change can also be replicable and still impact the lives of thousands of individuals.
Furthermore, anyone who has ever visited our Kitongo campus knows that it is a thriving family and community. Our school is small enough where everyone knows each other, we know our neighbors, and our girls’ home is truly a HOME. If we had double the number of students or residential girls we have now, that would no longer be true, and the magic, family feeling of our campus would be nearly impossible to have. This culture that has been created is imperative to the success of our programs, and we want to make sure that every child and adult impacted by our programs has a truly quality experience, ultimately ensuring they get far more out of it.
There are many organizations doing incredible things around the world, and we need every single one of them to continue doing the great work they are doing- our stance on this issue of change in a community and being replicable is no comment to the work they are doing. We know our goals are ambitious and we know that there are many challenges ahead of us as we continue to grow our programs and replicate our campus model across other parts of rural Tanzania, and eventually the world. But, as it’s written on our school wall, we firmly believe that we are a small group of committed to changing our little corner of the world, and we have the audacity to believe that we can do just that!
This post was written by Mainsprings