Giving Compass' Take:
- Leaders from United Way discuss how funder partnerships in collective impact work can effectively drive community-based change.
- How will shifting power dynamics in collective impact help bring about community solutions?
- Read about the barriers to progress in collective impact work.
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United Way organizations are leading and supporting collective impact efforts globally, some since the model was widely introduced in 2011. Ten years later, Ayeola Fortune, interim senior vice president for impact at United Way Worldwide, sat down with Jill Pereira, vice president of education and impact at United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania; Bill Crim, president and CEO of United Way of Salt Lake in Utah; and Regina Greer, chief impact officer at United Way of Greater St. Louis in Missouri, and talked about the challenging shifts that nonprofits and funders face in doing collective impact work, and what it means to become true partners with the communities they serve.
Each of these organizations has applied the collective impact framework differently. For example, in 2014, United Way of Greater Lehigh Valley used the collective impact approach to organize collaborative efforts addressing issues related to education, healthy aging, and food access. As the collaboration progressed, it provided skills development for local collective impact leaders, and began to address human trafficking, recidivism, and suicide prevention. In Salt Lake City, collective impact has brought rigor to key elements of local collaboration; a backbone infrastructure has aligned and coordinated work on eliminating racial and economic disparities in education and health outcomes, and increased data sharing and accountability. United Way of Salt Lake has seen 60 percent of its regional outcomes trending in the right direction for its cradle-to-career collective impact effort. United Way of Greater St. Louis’s collective impact work includes place-based initiatives to improve opportunities for youth in one of St. Louis’s lowest-income areas. It has increased access to early childhood and out-of-school time programs at the local level, as well as achieved state policy changes to provide safe transportation to and from school.
Shifting to a more collaborative approach is not without challenges, as these United Way leaders discussed, but these efforts illustrate how collective impact can affect broader social change. They also point to the success that comes when funders expand their roles to create change alongside the communities they fund.
The conversation below has been edited for clarity and length. Listen to a podcast of the complete discussion and follow this series for new conversations and essays about collective impact.
Read the full article about collective impact by Ayeola Fortune, Jill Pereira, Bill Crim, and Regina Greer at Stanford Social Innovation Review.