When the Children and Youth Cabinet (CYC) of Rhode Island was founded in 2011, its mission was to gather, analyze, and disseminate data and best practices to support Providence’s children and youth. Over time, CYC staff determined that their organization was not sufficiently equipped to deliver what the community told us they wanted: programs designed for communities of color.

Today, CYC is a very different kind of organization—it’s an intermediary that invests more than $2 million annually in programs that support behavioral health outcomes in Rhode Island’s urban communities. But the journey from a collective-impact coalition to a responsive intermediary that embraces equitable implementation took time. It required changing staffing practices, installing community residents in leadership roles, and restructuring its operating status to become what we call a “nimble” intermediary that pursues programs, funding, and implementation according to what residents say they need, and in a way that is designed to work for them. CYC also had to define and embrace what became the four cornerstones of its approach to equitable implementation: engagement, agency, relevance, and investment.

Longtime Providence residents like Winsome Stone have played a pivotal role in this journey. Winsome is an executive at the Rhode Island Department of Children Youth and Families (DCYF), the state child welfare system. She is also a mother and has lived in the same community for many years. As the implementation field faces hard questions about relevance and design of evidence-based practices and programs for communities of color, the vision and expertise of community members like Winsome are an integral part of the solution.

“We need services that reflect families’ own experiences and we need organizations that actually engage with residents,” Winsome says. “We can’t just say ‘equity’ over and over and expect results.”

Read the full article about Evidence2Success by Winsome Stone, Matthew Billings, and Rebecca Boxx at Stanford Social Innovation Review.