Through the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities’ two-year Change in Mind initiative, a cohort of 10 U.S. and five Canadian organizations has demonstrated the impact of intentionally infusing brain science and evidence into programs and organizations. It also has identified new insights into the longer-term challenge of facilitating and accelerating change at the systems and policy levels.

The initiative, which is conducted in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Palix Foundation’s Alberta Family Wellness Initiative, found that social sector organizations of all types and sizes can contribute to systems and policy change. No organization is too large or small to incorporate brain science into its work and contribute to systems and policy change.

Another breakthrough finding was that rather than treating Change in Mind projects as stand-alone activities, most sites viewed Change in Mind as a “game changer,” and embedded brain science principles across their organizations.  

The science is clear, and the case for infusing this knowledge throughout our society is compelling.  However, the way these ideas manifest themselves concretely into practices and policies must continue to be developed and tailored to suit the unique needs of organizations, governments, and businesses.

These overarching findings, as well as lessons learned by the sites in the Change in Mind cohort and site-specific examples, are explored in four newly released briefs:

Change in Mind Overview, Findings, and Lessons Learned

Transformation through Organizational Change

Transformation through Systems and Policy Change

Advancing the Collection and Use of Data through Rapid Testing and Evaluation

Change in Mind’s use of a developmental evaluation approach, rapid testing of program and practice innovations, and rigorous application of cohort and site-level theories of change have become differentiating aspects of the initiative in accelerating our understanding of where policies and practices at organizational and systemic levels need to shift for true alignment with advances in neurosciences. The developmental evaluation approach is a reflective practice cycle that involves sharing stories, analysis of patterns and themes, and identification of actions and lessons, which leads back to more questions for reflection. It can be used in policy reform and system change efforts as well as in complex environments where solutions are uncertain.

In November 2014, the Alliance was awarded a $1.7 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and with funding and collaboration from the Palix Foundation and it’s Alberta Family Wellness Initiative, launched Change in Mind: Applying Neuroscience to Revitalize Communities. The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University also provided initial financial support as well as extensive consultation and guidance for the conceptualization of the initiative. 

The Alliance is pleased to announce that we have been awarded a $500,000 grant by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to continue efforts revitalizing communities through brain science.