The ICF Foundation believes the global effectiveness of social system change organizations increases with professional coaching. As coaching clients gather new insight, they sometimes influence others around them, like a pebble tossed into a pond, creating an expanding circle around them (O’Connor & Cavanagh, 2013).

Our overall intent is to partner with organizations that are pursuing positive, sustainable social change with a mission geared toward a United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG). The partnerships will focus on applying coaching to move the metrics of the organization’s strategies and goals, ultimately proving the social return on the investment of coaching.

We know the efficacy of coaching in for-profit entities, and we believe the same to be true for mission-based organizations. To quantify and prove this, we launched our first Social Impact Pro Bono Project at the beginning of 2021, partnering with Many Hopes.

Our Partner

Many Hopes works to move children out of poverty, provide good health and wellbeing, and to improve inequalities aligned with the UN SDGs 1, 3 and 10 respectively. The organization rescues children from oppression, and raises them to be adults of influence, equipped to do justice for others, creating an exponential impact. They believe that children born into poverty can become changemakers in their communities; and prevent wrongs from happening to others.

The ICF Foundation interviewed Thomas Keown, the founder and CEO of Many Hopes, to share their work and provide insight into our partnership.

After first visiting East Africa in 2007, Thomas thought “If my friends back home could see what I’ve just seen, they would want to help. So, I am going to show them.” Many Hopes began because of a six-year-old girl in Kenya named Gift. After her mother died from AIDS, Gift was left to care for her infant brother, who died on the young girl’s back while she begged for food in Mombasa.  Thomas, who was there as a journalist, learned of Gift’s story, and took her in to care for her and send her to school. This relationship blossomed into the work of Many Hopes. “Over the years we grew into a global community of volunteers and fundraisers committed to rescuing and raising children like this young girl,” Thomas shared.

Q: What led to the creation of your mission and the desire to move the work forward through coaching?

A: More than $1 trillion USD of aid has been spent in Africa, and …much progress [has been] made.  [However] we believe that real and lasting transformation of a person or a community or a country must come from within. We spent 10 years creating and testing our model of survivor-driven change in Kenya before expanding to five new countries this year. Key to the success of the model is local leadership, and key to flourishing leadership is strong leadership coaching.

Q: Can you tell us about Many Hopes’ process in establishing their social impact goals?

A: We work in partnership with high-impact local leaders or organizations in each of our six countries. The social impact goals are set in close collaboration with our partners. The ultimate long-term goal is for children who have survived injustice to become adults of influence doing justice for others and solving problems that charity alone cannot.

Q: What interested you in the partnership with ICF Foundation?

A: The single biggest factor that will determine our success or failure in any of our countries is our partner leaders on the ground. We believe that coaching is key to high performance. I have personally benefited from an ICF-credentialed Coach and wanted each of our partner leaders to have the same opportunity. Having someone to talk and share ideas … is so valuable.

For each of our partner leaders in Africa and Latin America, this ICF Foundation partnership is the first time they have received coaching. Leadership anywhere can be lonely and stressful, but the nature of our partners’ work dials this up many multiples. This partnership with ICF Foundation helps us all to flourish. ICF Foundation has been so valuable in locating local, culturally appropriate coaches in each country, and early reports from coaching sessions have been positive providing valuable insight.

(This blog is a condensed version of the article which originally appeared in Coaching World Magazine, April 29, 2021;

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