“Collective Impact is a framework to tackle deeply entrenched and complex social problems. It is an innovative and structured approach to making collaboration work across government, business, philanthropy, non-profit organisations and citizens to achieve significant and lasting social change.”
The Collective Impact Framework | Collaboration for Impact
In order for collective impact to occur, certain preconditions need to be in place, namely: an influential champion, urgency for change, and adequate financial resources. In the case of Project AWARE – the influential champion is at multiple levels – at the Federal level, the Substance Abuse and Mental Heath Administration that has invested millions of dollars in improving the mental health for children in the U.S. At the state level, state educational agencies have invested time, and at the local level are community management teams – who are peopled by passionate and caring stakeholders who want to make a difference in their communities for their children. They bring a sense of urgency to this work and are committed to serving as effective overseers to the large amounts of funds that are pouring into their communities to enhance the mental health of their children.
Along with these preconditions that are being met, there are five other conditions critical to collective impact. These are: a common agenda, shared measurement, continuous communication, backbone support, and mutually reinforcing activities. The state and local educational agencies that are utilizing this framework have a common agenda through their work plan that was developed during a year-long planning session. Along with this work plan, they also have developed an evaluation plan that will assist them in collecting data and measuring results consistently. The agencies have also set up clear and consistent communication paths within and between the state, the Federal agency, and technical assistance center to ensure continued support as they work to achieve their objectives. Some state and local agencies are doing this work with the support of a separate organization providing coordination, while others are tackling this work internally. Lastly, all these agencies are using a coordination and integration plan to reinforce the plan of action.
So what does it take to ensure transformation once these preconditions and conditions are in place?
- Funding that takes into account the social problems and identifying the solution based on the involvement and interaction of many stakeholders at the community level creating a much large system for service provision.
- Engaging multiple and diverse partners from within the community to be involved in this transformation
- Doing work that allows for progress toward the same goals
- Learning together and actively coordinating actions and sharing lessons learned
- Replicating what works on a larger scale and increasing learning and alignment among many more organizations and many more communities.