Tuesday, February 21, 2012

"Needle-Moving" Community Collaboratives

Earlier this month, the Bridgespan Group, a consultant to nonprofits and philanthropists, released a report entitled “Needle-Moving Community Collaboratives: A Promising Approach to Addressing America’s Biggest Challenges.” The paper, which was produced with the help of the White House Council for Community Solutions, draws lessons from the experiences of 12 community collaboratives that achieved “needle-moving change,” defined as a 10% or greater improvement on a significant community-level indicator. The communities that were studied successfully made progress on challenges as varied as teen pregnancy (Milwaukee), youth gun violence (Boston), and the creation of a cradle-to-career roadmap (Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky).

After studying these successful community collaboratives, Bridgespan found they had many similarities in their core principles, characteristics, and supportive resources. For example: 
  • These collaboratives all sought to make a significant impact on a community-wide indicator, forged and utilized cross-sector partnerships, engaged community members in meaningful ways, and used data to focus and improve their efforts.
  • Through the development of a shared vision and agenda, the collaboratives created measurable goals that helped to build support for their initiatives. They also found ways to keep key decision-makers at the table year after year.
  • Successful collaboratives recognized that their efforts were impacted by people and groups outside of the community, such as state and federal governments and philanthropic organizations.
Detailed case studies of the 12 collaboratives featured in the report can be found here.

For communities interested in finding out more about "how" they can work to achieve significant results, CSSP’s recently published guide, “Making a Difference in Your Neighborhood: A Handbook for Using Community Decision-Making to Improve the Lives of Children, Youth and Families,” is a great resource filled with tools to help them identify their strengths and develop their capacity in many of the key areas listed above. For more information about the specific topics contained in the guide, please read our series of blog posts highlighting each of its chapters. The most recent post in the series is on “Creating Accountable Partnerships” and can be found here.  

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