SUSTAINABILITY INSTITUTE INC

aka Academy for Systems Change   |   Burlington, VT   |  www.academyforchange.org

Mission

Complexity, size and scale are the hallmarks of the problems facing organizations, communities, and individuals. The Academy for Systems Change is a nonprofit organization working with leaders, through proven tools, knowledge, and practices, to grow their ability to lead in complex social systems that foster biological, social and economic well-being. People working in complex systems such as healthcare, business, education, food, and the non-profit sector are building their abilities to engage with others; creating new ways to think and work together towards better results. The multiplier effect of this work is driving change in places all around the world right now.

Ruling year info

1997

President

Darcy Winslow

Main address

PO Box 4593

Burlington, VT 05406 USA

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Formerly known as

Sustainability Institute

dba Donella Meadows Institute

EIN

02-0492913

NTEE code info

Nonprofit Management (S50)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Most of the problems faced by humankind (e.g. poverty, homelessness, climate change) concern our inability to grasp and manage the increasingly complex systems of our world. Systems thinking is a way of thinking about, and a language for describing and understanding, the forces and interrelationships that shape the behaviour of systems. This discipline helps us see how to change systems more effectively, and to act more in tune with the larger processes of the natural and economic world.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Donella Meadows Project

The mission of this Project is to preserve Donella (Dana) H. Meadows’s legacy as an inspiring leader, scholar, writer, and teacher. We aim to maintain an easily accessible archive of Dana’s work online, and to develop new resources and programs that apply her ideas to current issues, making them available to an ever-larger network of students, practitioners, and leaders in social change.

Population(s) Served

The Academy offers several workshops, free webinars, and other online offerings to introduce the practical application of key systemic change tools and practices. Academy staff and faculty also contribute to a number of other workshops, organised by partner organizations.

Population(s) Served

This free online Fieldbook provides tools and resources for system leaders to develop skills in collective leadership. This ever-growing collection of tools, methods and approaches aims to support people and groups as they develop the skills to accelerate progress on intractable problems together.

Population(s) Served

As well as working on a 3-year intensive training program with our Academy Fellows, we collaborate on other fellowship programs, focused on domain specific areas. Our current partnerships include the Sustainable Food Lab and The Nature Conservancy.

Population(s) Served

We are leading several leadership collaborative, including Magnolia Moonshot 2030 (MM2030). This initiative is a new narrative for women’s leadership, creating the conditions to activate our collective power to address the greatest challenges we face today.

Population(s) Served

By capturing and sharing inspiring examples of deep systems change, we aim to not only support such change, but to “tell the story” in such a way that fosters a deeper level of understanding of the subtle interplay between the “inner” and “outer” dimensions of change. We are constantly exploring new ways of telling these stories in distinctive and compelling ways that that integrate deeply personal and systemic insights.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

1. Build and nurture a network of system change makers who connect regularly to share, learn and grow together, so that synergies of betterment can emerge between their domains of work.
2. Develop a profound and compelling body of research on the impacts and effects of awareness based systems change tools, and the work of the Academy.
3. Work to make “awareness-based systems change" a more broadly accepted field of study, practice and work. This work involves deep shifts in mental models, relationships, and taken-for- granted ways of operating as much as it involves shifts in organizational roles and formal structures, metrics and performance management, and goals and policies. Because of this, we believe that the development of self is foundational. This inner work—which involves developing awareness, compassion, understanding, and wisdom—also extends to teams, networks, organizations, and ultimately to the larger systems within which we work.
4. Further develop our organization as a container for a learning community of people that are striving to become masters in awareness based systems change work as well as people who run organizations or manage networks that work essentially towards the same outcomes.
5. Continue to ensure that he body of work of key exemplars like Donella Meadows, Peter Senge and others is an ever growing part of all of what we do -- not isolated in any hierarchical form above other great thinkers, but also not to ever be forgotten.

The Academy works to inspire and escalate collective energy for positive change through:

Dissemination of Knowledge and Approaches
We provide free access to tools and resources for systems leaders around the world to initiate transformational change. We also capture and share inspiring examples of deep systems change to foster greater understanding of these resources.

Intensive Development and Practice
Our Academy Fellows Program and our Partnership Cohorts, led by members of the Academy community, create in depth “learning while doing” in the chosen field of practice.

Extending the Learning
We develop teams and networks through online learning opportunities. The Academy organizes a series of workshops and webinars to introduce the practical application of key systems change tools and practices.

We have a core staff of 5 individuals (skilled in systems-thinking, strategic and programmatic development, communications and community engagement) who coordinate the work of the nonprofit. This core staff team draw on the expertise and capabilities of a 15-person Board of Directors, and a network of almost 100 Advisors, Consultants and Experts in systems thinking approaches who are continually engaged for input in design and implementation.

As of October 1, 2016 the Sustainability Institute, has legally combined with the Academy for Systemic Change and started doing business as the Academy for Systems Change. We consider this a huge achievement that will lead us to higher impact and has allowed us to double our staff and combine our network of enthusiastic supporters, advisors, friends, and practitioners.

We have continued to cultivate and develop the network of researchers, students, community leaders, business leaders who are deeply informed by systems thinking approaches.

Financials

SUSTAINABILITY INSTITUTE INC
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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SUSTAINABILITY INSTITUTE INC

Board of directors
as of 05/06/2020
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Wayne Barstad

Jay Bragdon

Conservest Management, Woodstock, VT

Hal Hamilton

Sustainable Food Lab

Jenna Musco

Dartmouth College

Ed Krishok

Ken Leinbach

Urban Ecology Center

Peter Senge

Society for Organizational Learning

Armando Estrada

Via Educacíon

Beth Hunter

J.W. McConnell Family Foundation

Dolf van den Brink

Heineken Asia

Stacey Tank

The Home Depot

Laura Schmitt Olabisi

Michigan State University

Jeff Mohr

The Omidyar Group

Shyla Nelson Stewart

One Earth. One Voice.

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No