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Visualizing Hope

What do you hope for? A study by Pew Research reports that American’s hope that by 2025 social justice will be a priority, wellbeing will prevail over profit, quality of life will improve, and systems will improve.

As researchers, evaluators, program managers, and more, we know the importance of hope. Our hopes are often presented in a logic model. Logic models are based on underlying and contextual assumptions, theories, and principles. Theory of Change (ToC) underpins most logic models to outline desired outcomes from a given program or intervention. Millions of publications, books, webinars, and classes have focused on the ToC.

But, a traditional logic model and the ToC is not that hopeful. And, what if change was not the goal, what if the goal was hope or instilling hope in others so that motivation and agency wins?

Our team has transformed the traditional process of developing a logic model and theory of change, into a theory of hope. Snyder’s 1980 article Hope Theory: Rainbows in the Mind explores the evolution of hope theory. Snyder defines hope as the perceived capability to derive pathways to desired goals, and motivate oneself via agency thinking to use those pathways. Realizing words are not enough to communicate what we hope, we created a visual Theory of Hope model for AKA. The road is a metaphor for our work, it begins but does not end, our vision and what we see continues after our work in communities is complete.

AKA Theory of Hope
AKA Theory of Hope

Here are some steps we followed to create the AKA Theory of Hope …

  1. Address a problem. Many people do not understand what we do at AKA as evaluators, trainers, researchers, writers, healers, and community advocates.

  2. Meet with team. Everyone has different ideas about what a theory of hope is. We met as a team to conceptualize the design, we wanted it to convey the right message. A hopeful message about our team and work.

  3. Words and terms matter. We developed our mission, vision, and core principles that guide our work. Everyone on the team contributed.

  4. Holistic approach. Our theory of hope supports the concept that all of the activities, resources, and prayers going into the work that we do can be a catalyst for healing and transformation (within ourselves and others).

  5. Connecting our work. We linked our vision and priorities to the theory of hope pathway and what we see with our eyes closed about the future.

  6. There are many roads. The visual model is a living document that is in constant motion, the roads we take change based on the conditions, opportunities, and prayers of many.

  7. Intentions. All of the work we do is based on the belief that everyone has a place on our roadmap. When we close our eyes we see the positive impacts of our work and seven future generations.

Transformation comes from letting go of the old and building the new. We let go of the traditional ToC, we embraced hope and created a process that illustrates who we are, what we do, and what we see in the future.



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