Collective Impact

by Jeanne Bernish on December 22, 2010

The Stanford Social Innovation Review recently published “Collective Impact,” an article about large-scale social change requiring broad cross-sector coordination. Written by John Kania and Mark Kramer, the overarching principle is that the social sector largely works in isolated segments of need – each foundation has its own mission, its own purpose, its own cause. And although the outcome desired may be identical or similar in scope and breadth, rarely do foundations work together to attain it. Scalable education reform has been elusive for the U.S. – in spite of heroic efforts on the part of educators, administrators, nonprofits and others to create some system-wide progress. One remarkable exception? Strive, the cradle to career partnership.

“Why Strive has made progress when so many other efforts have failed? It is because a core group of community leaders decided to abandon their individual agendas in favor of a collective approach to improving student achievement. More than 300 leaders of local organizations agreed to participate, including the heads of influential private and corporate foundations, city government officials, school district representatives, the presidents of eight universities and community colleges, and the executive directors of hundreds of education-related nonprofit and advocacy groups.”

How is this effort any different from other collaborations? Collective Impact. By creating an organization whose only goal is to coordinate the process it helps to facilitate, the Strive Partnership pulls together agents from different sectors to a common purpose – in this case, solving a specific social problem. As a backbone support organization, Strive can remove itself from narrowly defined mission statements and focus on achieving the end result – student success. The implications for reimagining how the social sector can move from isolated impact to collective impact is far reaching and, we hope, transformative.

For a quick slice of how Strive coordinates efforts of nonprofits watch the 6 minute TEDxCincy video featuring Jeff Edmondson, President of Strive.

For more information about Collective Impact, join the SSIR webinar, “Creating Large-Scale Social Change” on January 19th.

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