The Learning Lab helps capacity-builders, fiscal sponsors, and funders rapidly and effectively respond to the emerging needs of communities. It disrupts traditional methods of “community engagement” and “project planning” by creating inclusive spaces for our constituents to efficiently co-design and actionize effective solutions.
*New*: Use the Learning Lab’s Innovative Practices to Effectively and Rapidly Respond to your Constituents’ Emerging Needs.
Empathize, co-design, act and iterate.
The Learning Lab is sharing some foundational tools for how you can use human-centered design and agile thinking to become nimble in co-designing effective solutions with your constituents.
About the Learning Lab
TSNE is strengthening our commitment to impact investment by looking at new ways to support the people and organizations working to advance progress in our society. In November 2018, we launched the Learning Lab — a two year initiative focused on understanding the capacity building needs of under-resourced organizations that are promoting social good.
The Learning Lab involves our community-based partners and clients right from the start and places them at the center of the process. They are helping us imagine the impact that we can activate in the years to come. Read about how we are applying the design-thinking process to this project.
To begin this process, the Learning Lab partnered with New York University’s Metropolitan Center to produce two reports that would lay the groundwork for this initiative. Download the reports:
- Capacity Building Needs, Challenges, and Best Practices for Movements, Coalitions, and Other Nonprofit Groups: A Field Scan
- Capacity Building Needs, Challenges, and Best Practices for Movements, Coalitions, and Other Nonprofit Groups: A Literature Review
Lilo Altali, Learning Lab Project Manager
Learn more »
Lilo leads our design thinking lab to better understand how to serve low-resourced nonprofits. As a Syrian immigrant, Lilo’s lived experiences interacting with the nonprofits in his community have inspired his work and career. He is certified in Project Management (PMP) by the Project Management Institute and he holds a Master of Public Administration degree and a Graduate Certificate in Social Innovation from Northeastern University.
The Learning Board
To ensure the Learning Lab can gauge thoughtful input and feedback from community-based partners and clients, we have established a one-year "Learning Board." The Learning Board consists of four staff members from client organizations and three staff members from TSNE. Its purpose is to provide input, feedback, and criticisms towards learnings and ideas that will be conceived through the Learning Lab.
The Learning Board is a way to center those we serve, give them a voice, and more importantly, decision-making power to truly strengthen our current services, advise on social impact investment, and imagine future supports that TSNE can provide.
Meet the Learning Board
Click to read their biographies.
Beth Huang, Massachusetts Voter Table
Beth is the Director at the Massachusetts Voter Table and works with over 25 community organizations to increase voter turnout and civic leadership in communities of color and working-class people in Massachusetts. As the Director of MVT, Beth serves on the Steering Committees of Raise Up Massachusetts and the Election Modernization Coalition and convenes MassCounts, a coalition that works with nonprofits to achieve a complete count in the 2020 Census. Prior to joining MVT as the Field Coordinator in 2016, Beth worked at Jobs With Justice as the National Coordinator of the Student Labor Action Project. Beth is a senior trainer with the Midwest Academy. She hails from Wisconsin, where she became politicized through fights for workers' rights and racial justice, and holds a bachelors of science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Anne Marie Hunter, Safe Havens Interfaith Partnership Against Domestic Violence and Elder Abuse
Anne Marie is an ordained United Methodist pastor who has worked extensively in the field of domestic violence and elder abuse since 1984. Hunter holds a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School and a Ph.D. in Religion and Society from Drew University. In 1991, Hunter linked her pastoral, seminary, and domestic violence services experience and founded Safe Havens Interfaith Partnership Against Domestic Violence and Elder Abuse, a religiously pluralistic nonprofit. Working as a bridge, Safe Havens works locally and nationally to strengthen the capacity of diverse faith communities and service providers to engage in collaborative efforts to address domestic violence and elder abuse through education, resources, and technical assistance. Since 2003, Safe Havens has provided national Technical Assistance to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women.
Lori Manzelli, TSNE
Lori is the Communications Associate at TSNE. Prior to joining TSNE, she was Director of Marketing at José Mateo Ballet Theatre, the second largest ballet company in New England; and Communications and PR Associate at Victory Programs, a housing and recovery nonprofit in Boston. Lori holds a master's in arts management from Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz School of Public Policy and Management.
Svenja Oberender, TSNE
Svenja is the Fiscal Sponsorship Operations Manager of TSNE’s fiscal sponsorship team. In this role, she provides grants and financial management for a portfolio of fiscally sponsored organizations, and together with her team, is spearheading the development and implementation of this newly created role. Prior to this, she supported both fiscally sponsored organizations and internal staff as part of TSNE’s contracts team. Svenja’s experience includes managing a small grant-making program in an international development context, as well as a multitude of volunteer and board roles in the Massachusetts nonprofit sector.
Shavel’le Olivier, Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition
Shavel'le became the first Executive Director of the Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition in 2019. Prior to becoming the executive director, she was the volunteer Youth Program Director overseeing MFFC's Vigorous Youth program and the MFFC Youth Coordinator. Since 2011, she has worked to bring biking to Mattapan through founding Mattapan on Wheels, a free youth-led biking event created to raise awareness that black and brown people do bike. Mattapan on Wheels provides an opportunity for young people to exercise their leadership skills, provides a fun way for residents to participate in physical activity, and utilizes green and open spaces for physical activity by bike. Shavel’le received her Master in Nonprofit Management from Northeastern University in 2019.
Lisa Owens, City Life/Vida Urbana
Lisa is the Executive Director of the housing justice organization, City Life/Vida Urbana, which builds the power and leadership of working class communities to work for social, racial and economic justice and gender equity. Lisa has been actively involved in building local grassroots organizations and national social movements for over 25 years. A seasoned educator, she also occasionally teaches courses at area colleges on structural racism, US social welfare policy, participatory action research, and nonprofit management and leadership. Lisa serves on the boards of several social justice organizations connected to community control of land and housing, including: the Boston Neighborhood Community Land Trust, Alternatives for Community and Environment, the Resist Foundation, the Right to the City/Homes for All National Alliance, and the Right to the City Boston network.
Shanice Wallace, TSNE
Shanice Wallace is a Client Engagement Coordinator at TSNE. She coordinates and conducts intakes with individuals, organizations, and groups interested in TSNE services. She enjoys learning about the needs of nonprofits and how she can contribute to helping organizations in the sector.
Download Learning Resources
See what we used to create the Learning Lab process. View the resources list.