COLLABORATION EXAMPLES FROM THE FIELD
The following examples are provided because they are a representative sample of the range of joint effort models introduced in this chapter. These examples serve as proxies for hundreds of such models that can be found at the local and national levels.
LINKS Community Collaborative (Scottsdale, Arizona)
LINKS Community Collaborative was initiated in 1991 by community citizens who, as noted on its Web site, (http://www.ci.scottsdale.az.us/links/), envisioned a network of individuals and organizations committed to sharing responsibilities and resources to create a community which is safe, healthy and productive for children, adults, and families. LINKS describes itself as a framework for sharing and coordinating goals, strategies and responsibilities, and accountability among citizens and agencies. More than 60 public, private and nonprofit organizations and dozens more individuals comprise the LINKS collaborative and meet regularly to coordinate efforts.
In an evaluation of LINKS conducted in 2000, results revealed that the collaborative was successful in identifying community risk factors, in assessing community needs and in facilitating development of shared strategies to address needs. In addition, LINKS was seen as an essential resource to mobilize prevention resources in an effort to meet the needs of the community. Among valued accomplishments of LINKS identified through the evaluation was that the effort formalized a collaboration that allowed agencies to learn more about each other's programs and services in a coordinated fashion.
Not unlike other collaborative efforts, LINKS has benefited from consistent involvement of key community leaders from across all sectors in Scottsdale. The collaboration has provided a means by which individuals and organizations can contribute time, dollars, and in-kind resources. In a benefit analysis, LINKS reports that service delivery has improved in Scottsdale and that the collaborative "has helped to increase knowledge among partner organizations through a forum of information-sharing on resources and service needs." In addition, intraagency communication has reportedly increased, making it easier for families to receive coordinated services and programs from multiple agencies. Efforts of the collaboration have been to increase service quantity and quality while reducing duplication of services.
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America's Promise - The Alliance for Youth (Alexandria, Virginia)
America's Promise emerged from the 1997 Presidents' Summit for America's Future that was co-sponsored by the Points of Light Foundation and the Corporation for National Service. America's Promise wants to mobilize citizens from across the nation to help build the character and competence of the nation's youth.
As noted on its Web site (http://www.americaspromise.org/), the mission of America's Promise is to mobilize people from every sector of American life to build the character and competence of our nation's youth by fulfilling Five Promises for young people. Those promises are:
- Ongoing relationships with caring adults in their lives - parents, mentors, tutors, or coaches;
- Safe places with structured activities during nonschool hours;
- Healthy start and future;
- Marketable skills through effective education; and
- Opportunities to give back through community service.
America's Promise cites a growing alliance of nearly 500 national organizations, known as partners. These partners include government, business and nonprofit organizations, each committed to fulfilling one or more of the five promises. Interestingly, many of the partner organizations expand the scale and impact of their efforts by collaborating with other groups.
In addition to national partners, America's promise has fostered the concept of "Communities of Promise." They cite more than 550 community and state partners as members of local grassroots coalitions across the three sectors. In fact, coalition building is one of the essential ingredients toward being identified as a community of promise.
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Coalition for Healthier Cities and Communities (Chicago, Illinois)
The Coalition for Healthier Cities and Communities emerged from numerous discussions involving individuals representing multiple organizations from the US and the World during the early 1990's. The National Civic Leagues' 100th Anniversary Meeting in 1994 was the first time a formal planning meeting was held and the coalition was formally created as a result of The Leadership Action Forum held in Washington, D.C., in June 1996.
As noted on its Web site, (http://www.hospitalconnect.com/healthycommunities/usa/), the coalition describes itself as a partnership of entities from the public, private and nonprofit sectors collaborating to focus attention and resources on improving the health and quality of life of communities through community-based development. Nearly 400 members comprise the coalition.
The mission of the coalition is to stimulate and encourage collaborative action and efficient use of resources from multiple sectors and community systems. A primary focus of the coalition is to promote the initiation, development, and sustainability of initiatives that result in healthy people and healthy communities. The coalition brings together local, state, regional and national organizations and individuals to assist communities in better addressing their priority health and quality-of-life issues.
Interestingly, the coalition is primarily volunteer-driven with staffing provided by member organizations dispersed across the nation. The Hospital and Education Trust in Chicago serves is the coalition's Secretariat and this "host" role changes every five years as the base of operations moves to another member's location.
The primary work of the Coalition is achieved through "action teams" consisting of leaders from coalition members and other individuals. Members of the coalition share a common vision for healthy communities and have expressed their aspirations through a Declaration of Principles that seeks to "develop joint leadership roles, promote mutual understanding, measure our progress toward achieving goals, help change policies at all levels to produce a more humane and just health system, and challenge other organizations to create conditions that foster healthier communities."
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National Collaboration for Youth (Washington, D.C.)
The National Collaboration for Youth (NCY) is an affinity group of the National Assembly of Health and Human Service Organizations based in Washington, D.C. A total of 42 of America's leading national youth development organizations work together to provide, according to the NCY's Web site, a united voice for all youth, advocating for improved conditions and opportunities for their positive development.
According to the National Assembly, NCY provides opportunities for senior management and research staff to exchange program initiatives and identify opportunities for working together. NCY also provides opportunities for public policy specialists to identify federal and state legislative initiatives affecting young people and strategies to collectively advocate on their behalf.
The NCY has developed the National Youth Development Center (NYDC), a Web-based information source that is a coordinated through the National Assembly. According to the National Assembly, The NYDC provides "practice-related information about youth development to national and local youth serving organizations at low or no cost." NYDC resources include links pertinent to youth development research and evaluation, projects and programs, policies and regulations, foundations and federal funding opportunities, and career development information.
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HomeFront (Kansas City, Missouri)
HomeFront is a collaborative campaign initiated in 1995 that is led by The Family Conservancy
to promote positive parenting. As noted on its Web site, (www.thefamilyconservancy.org), the mission of HomeFront is to elevate the status of parenting by actively and effectively engaging adults in the lives of children and families.
The idea for HomeFront grew from a parent committee who determined there was a need for more engagement of adults in the lives of children. From a coalition of seven agencies, HomeFront reports today a collaborative partnership involving more than 40 agencies in the Greater Kansas City area.
HomeFront partners work together to 1) heighten awareness of parenting issues, 2) simplify access to information and resources via various avenues; and 3) deliver services where people live, work and learn. HomeFront has developed a campaign called Brainchild that explains the discoveries of brain development in children and how adults can be instrumental in helping children develop. They coordinate a "positive parenting calendar" that offers tips to parents on raising healthy children.
HomeFront is a joint effort of organizations as coordinated through Heart of America Family Services (HAFS). Interestingly the coordinating agency, HAFS and HomeFront are part of Kansas City's Coalition for Positive Family Relationships, which consists of nearly 400 nonprofit organizations and educational institutions dedicated to increasing the Kansas City community's knowledge of family-centered activities and assistance.
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Iowa Collaboration for Youth Development (Des Moines, Iowa)
In 1998, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the awarding of grants to lead agencies in nine states to develop and support collaboration projects. Iowa was one of the states that received funding to support state level collaboration and capacity building activities (note: the other states were Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York and Oregon).
Since then, the Iowa Collaboration for Youth Development (ICYD) was formed and now involves a dozen state agencies. Representatives from communities and statewide youth organizations, local agencies and research institutions have joined the collaboration. The lead agency in Iowa is the Division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning of the Iowa Department of Human Rights.
The ICYD's web site (www.icyd.org/) reveals that the mission of the ICYD is, to partner with communities and youth to create a better Iowa. The purpose of the collaboration is 1) to better coordinate and align state policies and programs related to youth using a positive youth development framework; 2) identify or develop resources for use at the community level to promote youth development and to facilitate planning and implementation of effective youth development programs; and 3) increase youth involvement in state- and local-level policy discussions and decision making.
An ICYD task force meets bi-monthly to discuss issues and build awareness of pertinent issues that relate to the mission of the collaboration. Various committees and work groups have formed to address specific activities.
Activities of ICYD include a triennial survey of Iowa youth in 6th, 8th, and 11th grades that reveals attitudes and behaviors of Iowa youth that provides important information to agency planners and direct service providers. In addition, ICYD compiles information about programs and services throughout the state so that communities are informed about what youth development resources exist.
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National Network for Youth (Washington, D.C.)
The National Network for Youth (NNY) was founded in 1976 and for the past 25 years has been, according to the NNY Web site (http://www.nn4youth.org), dedicated to ensuring that young people can be safe and lead healthy and productive lives. The NNY has more than 700 direct members and 1,500 constituents involved in its regional and state networks. The purpose of NNY is to inform public policy, educate the public and strengthen the field of youth work.
Members of the NNY are many regional and state networks representing organizations that are most often the providers of shelter, outreach, counseling, education and prevention services to troubled youth and their families. For example, the Northwest Network for Youth (Seattle) was organized to support quality services for youth in the Pacific Northwest. Members of the network include representatives from Alaska, British Columbia, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. The Southeastern Network of Youth and Family Services (Athens, Georgia) is another example. The Network is a private, nonprofit membership organization of youth service agencies in eight southeastern states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee). The mission of the Southeastern Network of Youth and Family Services is, to foster the highest quality youth and family services by recognizing and engaging the power of the human spirit, working in partnership with youth, families, and community members; and supporting communities in realizing their collective aspirations.
In addition to the regional examples, numerous other state networks have been created over the past three decades and those with a particular interest in working with runaway and homeless youth are usually members of NNY. For example, the Texas Network of Youth Services (Austin, Texas), the Florida Network of Youth and Family Services (Tallahassee, Florida) and the Empire State Coalition of Youth and Family Services (New York), represent coalitions of individuals and organizations with a common goal to provide better service to young people. Most networks have emerged from a desire on the part of youth workers to be responsive practitioners. The networks are sources of information, and they provide opportunities to exchange ideas and solve problems. Many networks offer training opportunities and other forms of technical assistance.
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New England Network for Child, Youth and Families (Boxboro, Massachusetts)
The New England Network (NEN) was initiated in 1997 as a merger of the New England Association for Child Care and the New England Consortium for Families and Youth, both noted training organizations. The purpose of the New England Network, as noted on the organization's Web site (http://www.cyfernet.org/), is to strengthen collaboration, increase cross-issue training, influence public policy, and share resources and expertise.
Like other networks affiliated with the National Network for Youth, the NEN exists to educate its members and provide training and networking opportunities for 160 public and private child, youth and family service agencies the network exists to educate and mobilize social agencies in the region. The region served by NEN includes the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont and New Hampshire.
The NEN is dedicated to promoting innovation and excellence in child, youth, and family services. The Network supports members by facilitating collaboration among members, by providing training, by influencing public policy and by sharing resources and the expertise of member across the network. As noted with other networks, NEN serves as an information clearinghouse to help public officials understand and respond to children, youth and family needs.
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Youth Development Collaborative of the Morino Institute (Washington, DC)
The Morino Institute was created in 1994 as a nonprofit organization whose mission is to advance social change through work focused on four key areas: stimulating entrepreneurship, advancing a more effective philanthropy, closing social divides and understanding the relationship and impact of the Internet on society. As noted on the Institute's Web site, (http://www.youthlearn.org), the Institute applies principles of venture capitalists in providing both funds and technical assistance within selected projects.
In 1998 the Institute launched the Youth Development Collaborative (YDC) as a two-year pilot effort to help selected youth organizations integrate the Internet into their out-of-school programs. The purpose of the pilot was to help develop people and organizational capacity within four diverse community-based organizations in the Washington, D.C. area to embrace technology as opposed to providing hardware and software. Four partner organizations chosen for inclusion in the collaborative included the Calvary Bilingual Multicultural Learning Center, Community Preservation and Development Corporation/Edgewood Terrace, Friendship House Association, and Perry School Community Service Center. Collectively, these organizations provide comprehensive educational services, public housing and job training programs, mental health counseling and a variety of other services for children, youth, and families. As a result the Institute not only invested funds but also technical assistance in order to achieve mutually beneficial goals.
The pilot, which was concluded in September 2000, and the lessons learned resulted in the creation of YouthLearn, an online community designed for youth workers who are using the Internet and related technologies to improve opportunities for youth in out-of-school settings. The mission of YouthLearn is to advance the work of individuals working with youth, particularly in out-of-school learning programs, in ways that increase opportunities for young people. Interestingly, the YDC is an example of how some collaborations are intentionally designed with sunset clauses but how, through the effort, new forms of activities emerge and become sustained through the effort.
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YMCA of San Diego County Community Collaborations (San Diego, CA)
Most affiliates of national youth serving agencies are involved in numerous local collaborations. The YMCA of San Diego County articulates such work by specifically identifying outreach programs under a community collaborations unit within its Youth and Family Services Department.
The Web site (http://www.ymca.org/sandiego/yfs/community.html) notes that the department is active in numerous community-based partnerships throughout San Diego County and thus represents a model for local affiliates who desire ways to formalize collaborations with other organizations.
Examples of the San Diego YMCA's efforts include TeenLink, a pregnancy prevention program that teaches lifelong skills to youth, teens, and adults. The program is a collaboration of the YMCA's Youth and Family Services, Home Start and Crawford Community Connection of San Diego and is funded by the State of California Department of Health Services and the Federal Department of Health and Human Services.
Another collaborative example is called the 21st Century Community Learning Center. Funds from the US Department of Education were awarded to several San Diego area schools to become 21st Century Community Learning Centers. The goals of this initiative are to improve academic performance, school attendance, decrease youth violence, improve life skills, decrease the number of community and police reports; and increase parental involvement. The national initiative works with these schools and community partners to develop safe environments for youth and their families. Community partners in the collaborative include YMCA-Youth and Family Services, Mentor America, Balboa Park Collaborative, Healthy Start, Pathfinders, Springfield College and Children's Hospital. The collaboration coordinates development of after school-tutoring sessions, one-to-one mentorships, parenting classes, parent education, anger management classes, literacy projects, health education and prevention and other youth and family development activities. Funds are distributed through the schools and program and administrative details are handled through the YMCA.
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