As a funder involved in neighborhood transformation and family strengthening, Rich’s concept of 3 A’s for public innovators – authority, authenticity, and accountability – is invaluable. To be both authentic and accountable while at the same time speaking with authority that comes only from a deep understanding of the neighborhood is the gold standard that neighborhood-based funders should seek to uphold. Communities deserve no less from us. The accountability covenant requires us to make promises that we can keep, to make claims of success that we back up, to celebrate the milestones along the journey, and to put our contribution in perspective
The authenticity covenant requires us to keep the work deeply rooted in the desires and experiences of the people – not linked to the cause of the week. Community residents have a keen sense of what rings true and false – we need to seek out and trust their instincts
The authority covenant is two-fold – we should seek a deep understanding of the community and accept the responsibility for putting that knowledge to work.
Taken together, the 3A’s are a more intentional and thoughtful approach to our everyday work. If we insert the discipline and consciousness of accountability, authenticity, and authority in our decision-making, we should expect better results and broader and deeper support. Fulfilling our mission requires us to learn, share, persuade – and the 3A’s will help us do all those things.
Gail Hayes is the manager of the Atlanta, Georgia, civic site for the Annie E. Casey Foundation. She is a participant in this week's Harwood Public Innovators Lab.