No city can go it alone — nor should they have to. As U.S. cities work to meet the diverse needs of their communities while coping with strained budgets, local governments are increasingly turning to nonprofit, academic, and business partners to stretch local, state, and federal dollars and accelerate change. Collaboration across sectors is essential. It’s also challenging, but well worth the effort.

Envision Charlotte is a collaboration between Duke Energy, Cisco, Charlotte Center City Partners, and city government to make buildings in Charlotte more energy efficient. The initiative aims to decrease energy use in Charlotte by 20%, and its success has already spurred 10 other U.S. cities to launch their own Envision programs.

Denver, another What Works city, recently utilized its Housing Trust Fund, supported by donations from foundations and local businesses, to help residents who just miss qualifying for public housing to find homes.

In Boston, Harvard University’s Achievement Gap Initiative partnered with several local for-profit, nonprofit, and public organizations to teach evidence-based ways of boosting child development to parents in the city’s poorer neighborhoods.

There’s a lot of untapped potential to expand and improve collaborative projects. Here are five recommendations to make it easier:

  1. Cultivate multi-sector “translators.”
  2. Invest in developing leadership talent across all sectors.
  3. Play to each sector’s strengths — and minimize weaknesses.
  4. Create a common language for cross-sector collaboration.
  5. Use a framework to structure collaborations.

By approaching partnerships as cultural exchanges, we can transform them from transactional interactions to true collaborations. The upside of success is far too great not to try.

Read the full article about boosting cross-sector collaboration in cities by Simone Brody at What Works Cities.