Luminare Group State of the Union: A Note From Jara

When Luminare Group named “pushing practice” in 2017 as one of its areas of focus, the hope was that the things we saw, heard, experienced, and lifted up would resonate and people would take action. Since then, we have learned a lot about our strengths, our partners, where we have the greatest impact, and how we can operationalize our learning and share it with the wider field.

Needless to say (and pleasantly so), equitable evaluation was one of those things that we put out in the universe. 

It started as a project in 2015 that was funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. In response to interest and energy from the field (foundations and consultants initially), the work evolved and we made the strategic decision to move equitable evaluation out of Luminare and launch it as an initiative with a new fiscal home, the Seattle Foundation. 

This has implications for the body of work that sits within Luminare Group. And now that EEI is standing on its own, we are looking at our portfolio of projects and thinking about where our collective energies and expertise align and what that means for us.

During this time, we’ve focused some of our attention on building Luminare Group as a platform to lift up the voices of others. We are tinkering with ways we can grow the platform while also looking at consulting projects and client partners that allow us to deepen our understanding of the critical issues and opportunities and ways of working that reflect the values we hold as core and move us towards a just and equitable world. 

So what’s next? We don’t know! 

One dream is to lift up our approach to strategy and formation planning in the same way we lifted up equitable evaluation and see what happens. Clients and other colleagues tell us that our approach differs significantly from others in that there is:

1) an explicit expression of values and assumptions, and 

2) a clear connection to learning and evaluation. 

Over the years, we have played with this approach with clients such as Human Options, Blue Cross Blue Shield Strong Field, Compasspoint, First 5 Marin, and Neighborhood Funders Group. We have also shared elements of this at United Philanthropy Forum and The California Endowments Organizational Learning and Evaluation conferences, and most recently at the University of Washingtons’ NonProfit Executive Leadership and Propel Leadership Institutes. Finally, we recently wrapped a multi-part joint offering with NonProfit Quarterly.  

As always, we are challenging assumptions and norms (even our own) as well as embracing and acknowledging strength and opportunity. 

Increasingly, people are identifying as being a disruptor. I’m all for disruption as long as the solutions move us towards a world that is just, equitable and one in which we can all thrive .

The work is hard, AND we can have humor and joy and lightness along the way. We must never forget that it is a privilege to serve, and we must always be asking how we best use who we are and where we are to be of service to others.