If your community is like most, it already has lots of partnerships in place: partnerships with their own websites, logos, mission statements and memorandums of understanding. These partnerships can be an enormous asset – if you can organize them into a coherent patchwork that meets the needs of the whole child and the whole community.
When you get all of these groups working together harmoniously, you’ll bring everyone’s efforts closer to that concert we talked about earlier. The community will see an alignment of goals, strategies and functions among its leading organizations. Not every problem will be solved, but all of the community’s issues and populations will be covered by somebody.
Here are resources that address common questions:
There must be dozens of partnerships out there. How do I find them and figure out how they fit together?
The Forum for Youth Investment created an adaptable tool to help you get a full picture of the child- and youth-focused initiatives, coalitions and networks in your community or state. The Mapping Moving Trains Packet will show areas for collaboration as well as gaps to be addressed.
Our organizations and groups that focus on youth issues aren’t even aligned. Does that matter?-
It does to them. Because here’s something ironic, as observed by the National Collaboration for Youth: When communities and states form overarching leadership councils to improve youth supports, “too often the sector that is least organized and systematically represented is the youth-serving sector.” There might be coalitions around issues such as child abuse or juvenile justice, but no one group addresses child and youth development broadly nor leverages the collective power of all the organizations serving youth.
One way to bring them together is by forming a Local Collaboration for Youth. The National Collaboration lays out how and why to do that in An Invitation to the Big Picture: Implementing a Local Collaboration for Youth (LCY) in Your Community.
Now we have to create another collaboration to oversee the collaborations?
No. Partnerships can work collectively without redundancy. Don’t Stop Collaborating, Just Stop Creating New Collaboratives shows how states and communities have aligned their existing collaborations.
How can we make government policies line up with our existing collaborations?
They sure mean well: those government policies that address issues for young people by, among other things, mandating the creation of a new board or commission to study an issue or oversee solutions. Sometimes, the result is a hodgepodge of coalitions, commissions and networks with overlapping missions and no coordination among them.
Learn how to avoid this pitfall in Ready by 21 Policy Alignment Series: Align New Policies with Existing Efforts to Collaborate. This white paper provides real world examples of what can go wrong when policy language does not encourage new initiatives to blend with existing collaborations.