Democratic Engagement

Collective Impact

 Bridging Educational Inequality with a Shared Vision of a Cradle to Career Pathway

“For decades communities have worked to improve student achievement through a piecemeal set of reforms and siloed set of systems and programs. These efforts have not led to the desired improvements in student achievement, calling for a dramatically different means of supporting student success.”  Strive Together 

  No single agency will alleviate the scale of inequality that is lived out right across the state and nation. History has never been on the side of the poor, represented disproportionately by people of color, when it comes to accessing and profiting from a quality education. A cross-sector approach that supports inclusive access to opportunity can strive for the sort of collective impact that can counteract these inequalities once and for all. New Jersey Campus Compact is seeking partners and systems to promote this work and will advocate and convene around the issues we should stand together on.

Practices and Processes

Practices and Processes

Evidence-based research  points to some of the vital processes and practices that will have a significant impact on the civic engagement field in the 21st century if the movement is to attain legitimate success on a scale that is required:

  1. Cradle to career approach that has a clearly articulated continuum/persistence pathway
  2. Coordinated through a centralized infrastructure and dedicated staff a. Eg, project manager, data manager, and facilitator (reflecting adaptive leadership throughout)
  3. Involves a structured process that leads to a common agenda, shared measurement, continuous communication, and mutually reinforcing activities. a. Developing a common vocabulary, utilizing shared virtual platforms
  4. Requires cross-sector involvement of government agencies, corporate and private foundations, school district leadership, leaders among the local higher education cluster, and the business and nonprofit sectors. a. From these sectors – set up an oversight group/steering committee/executive committee. b. Have targets – Match small number of indicators with working groups. See the video on assessing large-scale projects.
  5. Shift the funding conversation: Overcome the funding challenge, meaning, confront funders’ reluctance to pay for infrastructure and preference for short-term solutions, for example, by focusing on a social return on investment

Phases of a Collective Impact

 Phases of Collective Impact

 Below offers a brief picture of the Phases of Collective Impact put forward by the Stanford Social Innovation Review:  Phases of Collective Impact Current

STRIVE - a Leading Collective Impact Network

STRIVE – a Leading Collective Impact Network

Strive Together offers a simple tagline – Every child. Cradle to career. Launched in in Cincinnati in 2006, the Strive Partnership aimed to tackle the ‘program rich, systems poor’ narrative of their approach to student success. According to the report by Education Sector, “Striving for Success”:

“70 percent of the city’s children live in low-income households. Until recently, less than half of the entering kindergartners were deemed ready to start school. Nearly three in 10 students were dropping out of high school, and most of those who graduated were not well prepared when they enrolled in local colleges”.

A coalition was formed to respond on a scale worthy of the challenge. The founders of The Strive Partnership included the following sector leaders:

Higher Education Nancy Zimpher, then president of the University of Cincinnati Michael Graham, SJ, president of Xavier University James Votruba, president of Northern Kentucky University

K-12 Superintendents of the Cincinnati, Ohio, and Covington and Newport, Ky., school districts

Corporate Top executives from several of the area’s major employers

Charitable Top executives from several of the area’s major charitable foundations

Civic Directors of civic groups such as the United Way and Urban League

Over a 5-year period, a snapshot of 3 milestones along the pathways shows:

+9% rise in kindergarten readiness +11% increase in high school graduation was achieved +10% increase in college enrollment was recorded

STRIVE offers A Framework for Building Cradle to Career Civic Infrastructure  and is built around four foundational pillars:

1. Shared Community Vision   – A broad set of cross-sector community partners come together in an accountable way to implement a cradle to career vision for education and communicate that vision effectively 2. Evidence Based Decision Making  – The integration of professional expertise and data to make decisions about how to prioritize a community’s efforts to improve student outcomes. 3. Collaborative Action  – The process by which networks of appropriate cross-sector practitioners use data to continually identify, adopt and scale practices that improve student outcomes 4. Investment and Sustainability  – There is broad community ownership for building cradle to career civic infrastructure and resources are committed to sustain the work of the partnership to improve student outcomes

For a video overview of the Strive Framework, see this video by Jeff Edmundson, Managing Director of Strive.

Collective Impact in Action

 Collective Impact in Action – the Say Yes Syracuse Coalition

Say Yes Syracuse is a coalition formed in order to deliver year-round, comprehensive supports to Syracuse City school students from K-12 through college, including FREE TUITION to admissions-eligible students. According to the Say Yes to Education Foundation report, Rebuilding Communities

“The program approaches educational improvement as a vehicle for transforming the city. By making the Syracuse public school more effective and more appealing, Say Yes assumes that homes will become more desirable, property taxes will rise, business and industry will be attracted to the city, and will ensue.”

The profound belief on the coalition is that every student can graduate a post-secondary institution of their choice when given the appropriate supports, resources, and opportunities. The coalition is made up of the following:

“Syracuse City School District, Syracuse University, Onondaga Community College, Say Yes Higher Education Compact partner colleges, Say Yes to Education, Inc., the Syracuse Teachers’ Association, the Syracuse Association of Administrators and Supervisors, the City of Syracuse, Onondaga County, the American Institutes for Research, and a diverse group of Syracuse area corporate, non-profit, and philanthropic organizations”.

View this video on this page to see what Say Yes has done to transform Syracuse. For generational mobility and opportunity of a sufficient scale, coalitions must outlast the terms of designated leaders. The was given credence in the Center for American Progress report, Achieving Results Through Community School Partnerships :

“That’s where the rubber meets the road,” says Kevin Ahern, president of the Syracuse Teachers Association, who serves on this group “You need to have decision-makers from all these places at the table.” Speaking to the sustainability of the initiative under this collaborative structure, he adds, “We’ve managed to get this done [Say Yes] under two different mayors, two different superintendents, three different union presidents. That’s the kind of commitment it takes.”




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