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Spreading the Social Progress Index Across the World

By Paula Kravitz

I just wrapped up a 1.5 day training seminar at MIT in Boston with individuals from around the world who are adopting, adapting and running social progress networks in their cities, countries and municipalities.

This was the Social Progress Index (SPI) team’s first formal training session for members of the growing SPI network.  The training was a “how to” for catalyzing a local SPI network, developing a subnational index and building agendas and action plans within local contexts.

Teams from Spain, several countries in Latin America and the U.S. attended, including academics, government staff, technical experts, non-profit leaders and foundation staff.  It was a roll-up-your-sleeves event with exercises, sharing best practices and a deep dive into the rigorous, thoughtful and inspiring methodology.  Scott Stern, the MIT economist behind SPI, engaged with attendees.

The SPI team was impressive. They were professional, organized and extremely well prepared with presentations and materials. I was impressed with the body of materials and tools—an evolving “playbook”—that will support local actors in launching SPI initiatives.   They also did a terrific job of sharing the larger vision of SPI, and creating a sense of community amongst very diverse groups working at the sub-national level.

I was excited to see U.S. network projects forming including a team from Michigan where SPI has been officially adopted at the state level. There will be an SPI for the major cities across Michigan, with a special emphasis on Detroit, with ambition to scale to 92 cities with populations of 10,000 or above. Wow. Hearing about living conditions for citizen in Detroit was sobering.  Hearing this team talk about the role SPI will play in galvanizing action was inspiring.

I was proud to see the Skoll Foundation well represented in the training – especially as they talked about the role of social entrepreneurs in driving change, the role of Skoll Awardees in the Latin America network and the role of the Skoll World Forum as an important “hub” for leaders within the social progress network.

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