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Finding Common Purpose

About This Blog

Finding Common Purpose is a blog about building a 21st Century Social Contract so that more people are born healthy, gain a quality education, secure a well-paying job, and live a healthy and secure life.  It is written by Andrew Wolk, founder & CEO of Root Cause. 

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In Finding Common Purpose, I will be exploring important—indeed, fundamental—questions about the work Root Cause and others engage in, focused on whether our efforts are making enough of a difference in the context of ensuring lifelong success for individuals, families, and communities from healthy birth to a quality education, a well-paying job, and healthy and secure aging.

I see this blog as kind of self-interrogation in which I pose these questions in public, think out loud about the answers, and encourage a conversation with you, the reader, as well as through interviews with people from government, nonprofits, the business sector, philanthropies, and communities nationwide.

Finding Common Purpose is born of the same culture of inquiry and commitment to continuous learning and improvement that has shaped Root Cause’s practice for fifteen years and grounds our mission today. My aim is for us to consider, together, what our Common Purpose really is. A starting point is a firm belief that what we have all been building over the past decades can be harnessed in the twenty-first century as a major force to help bridge the growing divisiveness in American society and enable more people to achieve lifelong success.

Finding Common Purpose

Is a Universal Basic Income a Key Ingredient?

6/17/19 - When I ponder the to-what-end question that has motivated so much of what I’ve written since launching this blog a few months back, and particularly when I’m working on one of the many projects Root Cause is involved with, I sometimes find myself thinking about...

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Finding Common Purpose

“I don’t subscribe to the notion that these two things are tradeoffs.”

6/3/19 - “Which would you want for your own child: a backpack … or reading proficiency?” I posed that question as part of a three-post series a few weeks back; taken together, parts 1, 2, and 3 encapsulate my thinking about the key question I want to inspire readers...

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Finding Common Purpose

“If We Can Imagine It, We Can Build It”: Susannah Morgan Interview, Part II

5/20/19 - In last week’s blog post, I wrote about the discussion I had with Susannah Morgan, the CEO at Oregon Food Bank. I shared her “fundamental mindset shift” in how she approaches her work, from “doing for” to “doing with” the people she serves.

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Finding Common Purpose

“Not Doing For, But Doing With”: An Interview with Susannah Morgan of Oregon Food Bank, Part I

5/13/19 - Recently, I had a discussion with Susannah Morgan, the CEO at Oregon Food Bank. Susannah’s in her twenty-third year “in and around food banking,” twenty of which have been in leadership roles. She started out as executive assistant at the San Francisco Food Bank. After that, she moved to Boston...

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Finding Common Purpose

Are We Just More Comfortable at 30,000 Feet?

5/6/19 - It’s a rather typical activity nonprofits and foundations do from time to time: hold a one-day strategic planning retreat to get to know one another better, exchange ideas, and set some goals.  I’ve facilitated many of them over the years, and have found that they often try to do too much and so have difficulty leading to tangible next steps.

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Finding Common Purpose

Data: To What End?

4/29/19 - In early March, Fast Company published an article that describes how three U.S. cities have essentially ended all chronic homelessness, and another nine have ended veteran homelessness. It’s all part of a national program called Built for Zero that uses a data-based approach to help officials figure out exactly who needs what services.

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Finding Common Purpose

The Whole Is Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts

4/22/19 - In launching this blog in March, I defined my starting point as a firm belief that what we have all been building over the past decades—be it through nonprofits, philanthropy, schools, or government—can be harnessed today as a major force to help bridge the growing divisiveness...

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