Collective Impact

A Proven Strategy for Social and Economic Development
by Dr. Leslie L. McKnight

There are many opportunities in the Peoria area to be a part of the solution.

America’s communities are facing more complex socioeconomic issues than ever before. High poverty and unemployment; increased health risk factors; loss of funding from local, state and federal governments; and overall economic decline are placing undue burdens on already shrinking resources. Historically, public and private institutions have worked in silos to address single contributing factors to such issues, but in today’s rapidly changing environment, these issues are often interrelated, requiring multiple solutions and resources in order to solve the root of the problem.

Community and civic leaders are recognizing the need for better approaches to improving the health and well-being of communities. They also understand that solutions must involve various sectors through collaboration, inclusion and overall sustainability. As a result, hundreds of communities across the nation have adopted a collective-impact framework to improve outcomes for their children and families.

Collective impact brings together cross-sector leaders and organizations behind a common vision to implement evidence-based strategies utilizing combined resources to close disparities and provide economic opportunities. The 2011 Stanford Social Innovation Review article, "Collective Impact," provides five conditions for an effective framework to beginning and guiding community action:

  1. Common agenda. All participants have a shared vision for change, including a common understanding of the problem and a joint approach to solving it through agreed-upon actions.
  2. Shared measurement. Collecting data and measuring results consistently across all participants ensures efforts remain aligned and participants hold each other accountable.
  3. Mutually-reinforcing activities. Participant activities must be differentiated while still being coordinated through a mutually reinforcing plan of action.
  4. Continuous communication. Consistent and open communication is needed across the many players to build trust, assure mutual objectives and create common motivation.
  5. Backbone support. Creating and managing collective impact requires a separate organization(s) with staff and a specific set of skills to serve as the backbone for the entire initiative and coordinate participating organizations and agencies.

Many of Peoria’s organizations and anchor institutions are adopting the collective impact model to align resources for a more collaborative, inclusive approach to solving multiple community problems. The following are emerging collective impact strategies in Peoria involving cross-sector partnerships:

Alignment Peoria. Peoria Public Schools District 150’s Alignment Peoria initiative coordinates community resources and diverse stakeholders to raise student achievement and solve issues related to student retention, health, academic achievement, career pathways and adverse behaviors.

Regional EDC. The Greater Peoria Economic Development Council’s comprehensive economic development strategy involves collaborations with regional businesses and organizations to advance workforce development, entrepreneurship, education, industry-cluster attraction and new technologies in the Greater Peoria Area.

Regional Fresh Food Council. The Greater Peoria community is collaborating to form a healthy food access ecosystem that includes coordinated strategies with urban and regional farmers, civic and social agencies, health and education institutions, and farmer’s markets.

Peoria South Side Redevelopment. The National Resource Network, a Washington, DC-based consulting agency, is mobilizing businesses, civic leaders and community stakeholders in a comprehensive analysis of Peoria’s South Side to identify anchor institutions that will lead efforts in reducing poverty by providing social and economic opportunities for the residents of the South Side.

These are just a few of the many initiatives in the region in which public and private sectors are partnering to address Peoria’s toughest issues, and in the process, discovering the many benefits of working together. You and/or your organization can get involved in collective impact strategies in Peoria by participating in strategic alliances, partnerships, joint ventures and volunteerism. Your newfound relationships will yield synergistic opportunities to access and leverage more resources, build informal and formal networks, and improve your organization’s performance goals and objectives. As you can see, there are many opportunities in the Peoria area to be a part of the solution. Won’t you join us? iBi

Dr. Leslie L. McKnight is Senior Economic Development Specialist for the City of Peoria.

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