FUSE projects are crafted with the primary goal of making life better for people in the communities we serve. That overarching objective infuses just about every aspect of our fellowships, from project conception and design, all the way through to implementation of a new strategy. But, as with most organizations that navigate complex challenges, our impact has different layers.
The impact can be headline-grabbing, based on tangible outcomes like fresh data, policy change, and recommendations for action. It also can be concrete, such as when pilot programs and new partnerships, tools, or funding are created. Or it can come in the form of culture change, cross-pollination of ideas, or more innovative approaches to problem-solving—outcomes that are subtle, but just as valuable.
Each year, we learn more about the lasting impact of our program. For example, we’ve learned that part of the value of a FUSE fellowship is catalyzing new ways of thinking and doing. Having a fellow embedded for one year can open new channels of communication, bring new stakeholders to the table, and spark new partnerships. These institutional shifts often last beyond the life of the fellowship, becoming part of the organization’s culture and enabling it to better serve the community over the long term. A significant part of our impact is helping our government partners develop a stronger position to achieve their goals.
Another area of impact is collective learning. FUSE fellowships have value beyond one host agency and typically expand to other agencies, regions, or even sectors. In one recent example, city officials in Philadelphia reached out to us to learn more about how FUSE fellows in Los Angeles have approached reducing recidivism. This kind of knowledge sharing is happening more and more, and it both accelerates the pace of change and amplifies the value of our work.
Finally, a successful fellowship equips fellows with deep empathy, rich insights, and a network of policymakers and FUSE alumni on which they can draw for years to come. That not only helps them become more effective changemakers, but it also helps foster cross-sector collaboration. About half of our fellows will stay in the public sector after their fellowships. Others will return to the private or nonprofit sectors, where they can use their knowledge of the public sector to partner with government more effectively.
Fostering positive institutional change, doing work that inspires and serves as a model for others, and cultivating community-based collaborations are some of the ways that FUSE has lasting impact, both within our communities and around the country. Ultimately, each of our projects has a distinct impact profile that reflects the breadth and complexity of the individual problem it is designed to solve.