New Pathways

A place-based training program for non-profits to strengthen their capacity to adapt to a changing world.

Why do we need New Pathways?

Changes in today’s environment for nonprofit organizations are placing radical new demands on them that require new thinking. Shifts in patterns of community need, generational and demographic changes, new forms of resource development and technology and many more factors have revealed that the “muscles” nonprofit organizations exercise to promote organizational stability now need to be balanced by equally strong muscles around adaptability. If organizations are to remain healthy and resilient, they need to proactively seize opportunities for change instead of merely reacting to these shifting conditions.

The organizations that are thriving and continuing to deliver high public value are the ones that are increasing their emphasis on innovation and adaptive change. Strengthening adaptive capacities – the muscles organizations flex to enable innovation and successfully pursue new pathways – has not in the past been a priority. Now, it’s become essential. Our New Pathways programs support organizations in developing these muscles through local learning and action cohorts.

To learn more about New Pathways, contact Jonathan Halsey, Managing Director.

Program Impact

  • 234 organizations supported in the arts and social sectors across the U.S and Canada
  • Learning networks fostered in 14 communities through facilitated forums and convenings
  • Over $800,000 invested in prototyping imaginative, outside-of-the box strategies
Introducing New Pathways
New Pathways is an 18 to 24 month program for a local cohort of up to 20 nonprofit organizations. Designed in close collaboration with local funders, the program helps executive leaders, board members and staff members at arts and social service organizations experiment with new practices in order to adapt and thrive.

The program is designed to foster a learning community among the participating organizations, enabling them to collaborate, share, risk and learn together. Designed from a flexible combination of elements (see below), the program draws on local assets and is customized to each community. Through New Pathways, participating organizations go deeper into adaptive change at each stage of the program, advancing as far as their capacity and readiness will allow.

In recent years, New Pathways has supported organizations in Cleveland, Chicago, San Jose, Denver, New York City, Calgary, the state of Alaska, and more.

People always say, “innovate or die.” But how do you do it? We actually learned how to do it through EmcArts. We now know how to break it down into something manageable and measurable.

Terri Hague, Senior Director of Membership, Girl Scouts of Northern California
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Program Elements
Each New Pathways is designed in collaboration with a local funders, and is structured around a flexible combination of six different components:
  1. A preliminary analysis of the organizational capacity of all the selected participants
  2. A sequence of hands-on Workshops led by EmcArts facilitators, taking place either in-person or virtually
  3. Participant-led Community Convenings or Participant Forums designed by a guiding group of program participants
  4. On-site Coaching for a selection of the participating organizations to go deeper and involve more stakeholders, as follow-up to the Workshops
  5. A Train-the-Trainer program in which local consultants are trained to deliver adaptive coaching work in the future
  6. The opportunity for an individually facilitated "deep dive" into Incubating Innovation around a particular project
Featured Participant — Meet Teatro Publico de Cleveland
With support from a New Pathways program, Cleveland Public Theatre and members of the Latino community formed Teatro Publico de Cleveland, an amateur ensemble theater company that created space for meaningful dialogue and new, powerful performances. Watch their video below and read the full story here.
Cleveland Public Theatre and members of the Latino community formed Teatro Publico de Cleveland, an amateur ensemble theater company
Current Program Funders
New Pathways programs in Alaska, Houston, and Charlotte are made possible by the Rasmuson Foundation, the Houston Arts Alliance, and the Foundation for the Carolinas.