When Robin Sharma said “Dream big. Start small. Act now” she is describing small Matters Institute in Rochester, New York. A non-profit that is focused on “fostering collaboration among individuals, organizations, public agencies and capital providers so they can increase prosperity and pave the way for resilient future generations” by “creating measurable programs to address critical gaps in our society.” I had the honor to interview Roy Allen, founder of this special organization.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead
small Matters Institute began in 2015 as an educational research organization. Identifying gaps that other programs were not addressing while utilizing feedback and measuring impact to determine feasibility for ideas that could take root and grow. Roy spends time doing “Appreciative Inquiry.” This concept looks for what is happening that is helpful rather than focusing on what is wrong. In talking to people and getting feedback on what is already working well and what is missing, Roy often discovers gems and treasures of potential projects and possible programs. When a gem is uncovered time is spent collaborating with community stakeholders to determine what action will take place. For example, small Matters Institute recently partnered with a church that had excess land not being utilized. Collaborative problem solving began identifying potential uses for the land. Eventually it was developed into a beautiful flower garden that enhances the entrance of the church, makes visitors feel better and is a natural gathering space for birds and butterflies . This non-profit invests in helping everyone reach their potential while nurturing and engaging citizens.
“It’s amazing how far you are willing to go when someone believes in you.” Unknown
small Matters Institute has many ongoing initiatives. Embedded in all programs small Matters Institute support is its “Proof-of-Concept.” Proof of concept means can a program be replicated and scaled on a local, regional, or national level.
Current Initiatives Include:
- Lake Affect Magazine is a free magazine printed two times a year showcasing all the beauty and creativity in the Central/Western New York and Finger Lakes and Great Lakes regions in New York State.
- Unite For Nature facilitates bringing landowners such as churches, schools, non-profits, and businesses together, fostering communication to work towards achieving sustainable, stronger communities.
- Give the Gift of Nature focuses on bringing more nature into the lives of K-12 public schools as an investment in the natural world and our children, regardless of zip code, race or class.” Currently six teachers are sponsored monthly to support their nature and art programs under the teacher appreciation partnership
- Genesis2Fifteen works with faith groups to include green space in the worship experience.
- Uncommon Assets is a “workforce development program that provides participants a combination of soft-skill workforce preparation counseling, traditional liberal arts education and guild-style tradecraft training.” providing skills and training to become a well-rounded and engaged citizen.
small Matters Institute also supports various community projects such as the Free Art Collective, The Yards Rochester, and The People’s Pantry in Rochester, New York.
“Connection is why we are here: it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.” Brenè
small Matters Institute is an integrator providing non-political solutions to public service, acting as matchmakers between individuals and groups to foster relationships that facilitate real time feasible solutions to existing gaps by embracing ideas that unite us. Roy shared that a priority of small Matters Institute is to train the next generation to become civically engaged and continue public service work. Supporting future leaders by teaching them skills and providing opportunities to lead the way. This Institute functions as sidekicks to superheroes already doing the work, celebrating those people already helping to make positive impacts, as Roy tests the recipes of each project to determine whether the idea can be easily replicated to fill the same gap in another place.
It is with honor and admiration we shine the Kindness Champion Spotlight on the incredible small Matters Institute. Where dreaming big while acting small makes a difference in the lives of many. We thank you for being you and bringing your awesome to the world.
For more information on the incredible small Matters Institute here is their information:
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