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Case Study: TCEA's Community-Led Growth Journey

Case Study: TCEA's Community-Led Growth Journey


The Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) is a member-based organization dedicated to advancing teaching and learning through the use of technology. With more than 80,000 members around the world, community-led growth has become central to TCEA's strategy. 

Community-led growth is an approach in which members actively participate in the development of a strategic endeavor. In TCEA's case, this meant building a thriving, vibrant online community. 

The Challenge 

Providing professional development and fostering a vibrant community are at the top of TCEA's list of strategic priorities.

"All associations have strategic priorities focused on financial security or advocacy," said Lori Gracey, TCEA Executive Director. "But TCEA also emphasizes connecting people as one of our strategic goals. Our members tell us the number one benefit of being a member is professional development and the number two benefit is belonging to a community." 

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Like many associations, TCEA used a listserv to facilitate email-based discussions. Members eagerly engaged with the listserv, but it came with drawbacks: it was highly admin-intensive, couldn't be searched, and lacked organization. And, of course, the listserv was designed primarily for email-based interaction, which did not meet the expectations of TCEA’s younger members.

The Solution

In search of a solution, TCEA made the decision to migrate to a more robust online community platform. TCEA chose Forj for the platform's user-friendly appeal and the strategic partnership provided by the Forj team. 

Following a pilot and extensive testing, TCEA trained moderators, expanded groups, seeded content, and unveiled the community to the membership at large. They hosted a virtual grand opening party and "ribbon cutting," which included door prizes and a scavenger hunt.

TCEA also implemented a distributed leadership model where roles and responsibilities are shared among staff and members. Board members and area directors became part of the community's distributed leadership team, which lightened the workload and empowered members to contribute to the community's success. 

The Results

In just 5 years, TCEA more than doubled its membership, from 30,000 members to over 80,000 members worldwide, a majority of whom are part of TCEA's vibrant online community. TCEA's community has flourished, with members actively seeking peer support and engaging in important discussions to advance the teaching profession. 

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