The Super Power Agency aims to improve the lives and literacy skills of some of Scotland’s most disadvantaged young people. Through a range of creative writing workshops, interdisciplinary programming, and mentoring, it works with young people aged 8-18 in schools and community organisations to give young people the powers they need to close the attainment gap in education, foster aspiration, and become successful learners, confident individuals, and responsible citizens. To date it’s worked with more than 2,500 young people, published 17 books of student writing, and have ambitious plans to expand its programmes across the country.
The following is the organisation’s journey with Pilotlight told by The Super Power Agency CEO Gerald Richards.
Why did The Super Power Agency come to Pilotlight?
We applied to Pilotlight for help thinking through our plans for expansion.
Our programmes have been very successful in Edinburgh, growing from workshops with 34 pupils at our first school Leith Academy, to eleven schools and close to 1,000 pupils a year, in under three years.
As we came to the end of our first strategic plan and the pandemic prevented us from working in schools, we thought it was a good time to work on our growth strategy to move beyond Edinburgh and bring our programming to more youth in Scotland.
What did you work on during the Pilotlight 360 programme?
With the support of our Pilotlighters, we were able to take stock of what we had been able to accomplish and then make plans for the best ways to expand our programmes. The Pilotlighters held a virtual site visit, holding focus groups via Zoom with our partner schoolteachers, head teachers, and our volunteers. This was extremely valuable to us to learn the impact of our work on schools and the pupils in our workshops.
Our monthly talks with the team helped us get to 1) the core of our work and the best parts of it to expand, 2) make an honest assessment of our staff and trustees (did we have the right people on board to support our expansion?), and 3) then consider all our options for proceeding.
How have the learnings from the Pilotlight 360 programme supported The Super Power Agency?
Coming out of the final meeting we were able to create a growth plan that focused on an organic then ‘hub-and-spoke’ model for growth of our in-schools writing workshops. Another learning from the programme was a plan to assess our current board and recruit new board members that would help us ensure sustainability.
We’ve already begun work on growth with plans to implement new workshops in Dunfermline, Peebles, and Clacksmannanshire when Covid restrictions allow. We’ve also begun the implementation work on SPA in a Box offer, a portable way to help schools further afield where we might not be able to conduct workshops directly, and recruited new Board members.
The Pilotlight 360 programme was great in helping us focus more on what we wanted, and the extra brains to help us think through our plans were immensely helpful. If you need help thinking through a strategy, programme or course of action, the Pilotlight 360 programme is for you.
Pilotlight in three words?
Rigorous. Helpful. Resource.
Pilotlight 360 in three words?
Helpful. Strategic. Inquiring.