Accelerating the Leadership and Growth of Early Career Scholars

This brief shares the principles that SERN used to support early career scholars through our fellowships, scholarly events, and funded research portfolios. We discuss trust- and relationship-building, responsiveness to early career scholars’ professional context and aspirations, and meaningful opportunities for learning and leadership. While designed primarily for research audiences, a number of lessons can inform early career staff development across contexts.

Designing Inclusive Scholarly Events that Foster Relationships and Engagement Across Silos

This brief outlines SERN’s relationship-centered approach to our annual scholarly convenings, which were attended by researchers from various disciplines and career stages, as well as leaders from practice and policy organizations. It can support individuals and organizations in creating spaces for deep engagement, learning and growth, and generative discussion.

Empowering Practitioners, Policymakers, and Funders to Apply Insights from Research

SERN’s meaning-making opportunities – including recurring and one-off events, and a six-month learning community called the Belonging Collective – exposed people to key takeaways from research on student experience and offered scaffolded opportunities to unpack the implications of that research for their work. This brief covers how we designed and implemented these opportunities, offering insight for anyone interested in bringing insights from research to bear within practice, policy, and funding organizations.

Sharing Power in Philanthropic Relationships to Enhance Impact

Collaborative, mutually supportive funder relationships played an important role in SERN’s growth and impact. This brief is targeted primarily to funders, but the strategies within it can also be used by individuals and organizations in their relationship-building with funders. It captures lessons about expanding funder networks, aligning funding structures with grantees’ needs, maintaining open communication and mutual learning, and working together to advance field-level priorities.