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On our blog, Collective Impact Forum staff, partners, and guest contributors share the latest learning, innovations, and stories from the field.

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  • What’s Equity got to do with it? It is Key to the Success of Collective Impact

    Carrie Boron

    July 28, 2014

    My colleagues and I posed this question—“What’s equity got to do with it?”—to those who took part in our session at the Collective Impact Forum’s funder convening in May. As foundations explore how best to support collective impact efforts amongst their grantees, they need the chance to explore blind spots when it comes to ensuring that there are no barriers in place to full community participation. That is, are there foundation practices or policies at work that may deter people of different backgrounds—racial/ethnic, educational, economic, sexual orientation, gender and language—from participating in a collective impact effort, and thus having the genuine impact they all seek?
  • Working Across Sectors Creates More Opportunity for America’s Youth

    Collective Impact Forum

    July 25, 2014

    By Melody Barnes - Just over a year ago, I stood on stage at the Aspen Ideas Festival to announce 21 communities across the country that were selected for inclusion in the Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund (OYIF), an initiative of the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions. The Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund awarded grants to fund promising cross-sector collaboration in communities seeking to build successful education and employment opportunities for young people disconnected from work and school.
  • Putting the Community into Community Engagement

    Karen Pittman

    July 22, 2014

    Community. Engagement. These two words get a lot of air time at the tables where coalition leaders exchange ideas about how to create "needle moving change," whether the topic is childhood obesity, teen pregnancy or college readiness. Every group of leaders believes community engagement is critical to success. Every group laments they don't do it soon enough, often enough, long enough or well enough. Post mortems of community change initiatives frequently cite "lack of community engagement or buy-in" as a reason for failure.
  • Finding Our People … Just Like the Girl in the Bee Suit

    Jeff Edmondson

    July 17, 2014

    In the Blind Melon 90s alternative rock video, “No Rain,” a young tap-dancing girl in a bee suit wanders throughout town looking for someone to appreciate her talents after being laughed off stage. At the end of the video, the lonely girl discovers a field full of other people dancing in bee suits – she finally found like-minded people who shared her passion!
  • Building the Collaboration "Muscle"

    Emily Wexler

    July 14, 2014

    While several months back, May’s funder convening in Aspen showed that more grantmakers recognize that no single organization can go it alone when it comes to addressing social issues that are complex, dynamic and intersecting. With efforts like collective impact initiatives that are seeking to transform whole systems, grantmakers can play an essential role in encouraging and supporting nonprofits to work together to achieve better results. To borrow a term that came up many times during the forum, grantmakers are essential partners when it comes to building a community’s “civic muscle.”
  • Exploring Collective Impact – Perspectives from The Philanthropist

    Larry Gemmel

    July 10, 2014

    Since its introduction in the Winter 2011 edition of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, the theory of collective impact presented by FSG consultants John Kania and Mark Kramer (2011) has attracted considerable attention in the United States, Canada, and around the world. According to Regina Starr Ridley, Publishing Director, "Collective Impact is SSIR's most viewed article with close to 300,000 page views, more than any other article SSIR has published.” The framework certainly has resonance with many people in the social sector, and its potential promise of fostering innovation and addressing complex social issues has spawned a virtual movement of those adopting the approach and eager to learn more. But is collective impact merely a re-branding of collaborative approaches that have been used for years, or does this model provide new insights and techniques that will in fact break through on some of the most intractable problems affecting western societies?
  • 8 Yummy Tensions of Collective Impact

    Tynesia Boyea-Robinson

    July 8, 2014

    I had the great fortune of attending the first learning community of the Working Cities Challenge (WCC), an initiative led by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston to advance collaborative leadership and support ambitious work to improve the lives of low-income people in smaller Massachusetts cities. Passionate leaders talked through a number of challenging issues that have the potential to sow bitterness and discord in collective impact Initiatives. By addressing the conflicts and holding the tensions in balance, that bitterness can become a sweet recipe for catalyzing enduring change.
  • The Tango of Collective Impact

    Liz Weaver

    June 23, 2014

    This weekend, I had the pleasure of watching couples dance the tango in a public square in London. The intricacies of the dance, coupled with the individual styles of each dance partner made for an intriguing couple of hours. As each new song filled the square, the couples would wait for a few strands of the music and then proceed to move together. Often with their eyes closed, each couple moved around the dance floor.
  • The New Science of Evaluating Collective Impact

    Srik Gopalakrishnan

    June 5, 2014

    In her seminal book, Leadership and the New Science, Margaret Wheatley takes a stance regarding the kind of leadership that is required in today’s world. She urges readers to stop clinging to the limits of “Newtonian” science and embrace the science of systems and complexity. Wheatley writes,

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