United Way Worldwide (UWW) sought to engage the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) around the unique challenges of leading Local United Way organizations in these difficult times.
UWW looked to Collaborative to design and facilitate two face-to-face meetings and a series of webinars of a select group of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of Local United Way organizations from across the nation. In these efforts, Collaborative provided the following:
Comprehensive planning team leadership
Overall design leadership for face to face meetings
Logistics and operational support
Through these activities, Collaborative and UWW were able to engage the CEOs around the challenges of leading these local organizations, generate strategies for innovation and creativity in these challenging times, and equip them with the necessary tools to effectively mobilize communities for change.
The School District of Collier County wanted to develop a comprehensive strategic plan for the school district with input from not only district staff and teachers, but also community stakeholders.
Collaborative teamed up the Education Foundation of Collier County (EFCC) to assist the district in developing and implementing its strategic plan. Two phases of work were identified for this 10-month project: Developing a vision and mission document and building operational plans.
In phase one, Collaborative worked with the superintendent, his cabinet, board members, and a strategic planning team of community stakeholders. With each of these groups, Collaborative did the following:
Facilitated discussions to identify the vision, mission and values for the school district
Synthesized notes and shared them will all groups to make sure everyone knew what each team was considering
Developed draft vision document, which was revised several times based on the feedback from each of the groups
In phase two, Collaborative and the EFCC worked with the superintendent to select members for eight operational teams. Each team consisted of a combination of internal and external members, including district staff, principals, teachers and community members. With guidance from Collaborative these teams did the following:
Developed an overall goal for their operational area
Created objectives, indicators and strategies for this goal
Considered implications of these efforts
During these efforts, EFCC conducted focus groups and outreach throughout the community to gain feedback about the draft document, operational team work and the overall process. This comprehensive engagement allowed the community to remain involved throughout the process.
The School District of Collier County has a strong vision document, which outlines the values and strategies for achieving the district’s vision. Through the comprehensive community outreach and engagement, this document truly reflects Collier County’s vision for education.
Learn more about what the community says about the process.
In 2008, the Alliance for Excellent Education was awarded a grant from the James Irvine Foundation to examine high school reform efforts in California to help inform the national dialogue on how to better prepare students for the rigors of college and career, while simultaneously increasing the high school graduation rate.
The project specifically looks at the Linked Learning approach, which is grounded in a set of four guiding principles that focus on preparing students for postsecondary education and career; connecting academics to real-world applications; leading students to the full range of postsecondary opportunities; and improving student achievement.
The Linked Learning movement in California grew out of an effort to address the poor and inequitable student outcomes that have persisted throughout the state for decades—a trend that plagues every state in the union.
Collaborative is supporting the Alliance in the organization’s efforts to draw out the applicable lessons from California’s efforts to transform the high school experience and determine how best to share those implications with national stakeholders to help inform federal policy.
Collaborative worked in partnership with the Alliance, the James Irvine Foundation and ConnectEd—a group charged with advancing practice, policy, and research for Linked Learning—to develop a comprehensive and effective communications plan to help inform national education stakeholders of the impact of California’s Linked Learning Approach.
The efforts focused on a two-day rollout to Congressional staff, officials from the Obama administration and the larger policy community both to inform them of the specifics of the Linked Learning approach, but also to connect the approach to the larger implications for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Action.
Collaborative helped to develop a Hill briefing that included a broad range of stakeholders from California, including representation from the state department of education, the state teachers’ union, a local chamber of commerce, a community-based advocacy group, and a district implementing Linked Learning.
Collaborative moderated a well-attended Hill briefing that included representatives from the James Irvine Foundation, ConnectEd and other supporters who shared their on-the-ground experience in building support for and implementing the Linked Learning approach in California. The briefing was held before a range of audience members, including Congressional staff, officials from the Obama administration, state education officials, local education agency staff, national education groups and the press. The briefing resulted in a lively discussion in which panelists shared their viewpoints, experience and knowledge on what is happening in high school reform in California and how it applies to federal policy.
The Kettering Foundation wanted to know how local education funds (LEFs) in six American cities implemented community forums to determine how the achievement gap is defined and expressed in public education systems, and the causes and possible solutions for closing this gap. The Foundation had created tools for moderators and participants of community forums, and sought to understand how these tools in practice surfaced important themes.
By supporting forums in six cities-Washington, DC; Corpus Christi, TX; Minneapolis, MN; Bridgeport, CT; New Orleans, LA and San Francisco, CA, the Foundation sought answers to the following key questions:
How do people in communities rename the issue known as the academic achievement gap?
What is happening in the six communities as a result of the public dialogues?
What are the challenges associated with using public dialogue to engage communities to address the achievement gap issue?
Since late 2007, there have been 25 community forums about the achievement gap in these six cities, engaging over 1,500 participants from a wide range of backgrounds, including those of Somali, Hmong, Hispanic, Korean, Native American, White, African American and Chinese descent. Educators, superintendents, principals and teachers participated in the conversations.
Collaborative attended at least two forums in each of the six participating cities and also conducted more than 20 follow-up interviews with educators, parents and students impacted by the achievement gap discussions.
Collaborative analyzed findings and compiled a report of key themes and future potential steps for the Kettering Foundation to take when seeking to engage communities in deliberations about aspirations and actions for educational quality.
Collaborative's efforts helped to reveal the nuances and understandings used in different communities when it comes to deliberations on the achievement gap. We found that communities repeatedly narrowed the focus from a broad academic concept of an achievement gap to more personal and local framings.
For example, minority students in Bridgeport compared the actions of White students to their own. Administrators in Minneapolis noted that members of ethnic groups who participated in conversations expressed a concern that the White power structure did not understand or honor their stories and did not help their children reach their full potential. This resulted in conversations around how to help all children reach their full potential.
Ultimately, the Kettering Foundation received a thoughtful analysis of themes from nationwide discussions, and an understanding of how their materials worked in practice to support local dialogue that leads to change.
The Aspen Institute, in partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, formed The Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy. The 17-member group of media, policy and community leaders convened to assess the information needs of communities, and recommend measures to help Americans better meet those needs. The result of their work is the report Informing Communities: Sustaining Democracy in the Digital Age.
Initially, Aspen invited Collaborative to design the print report, yet the project soon expanded when it became clear that both the Aspen Institute and the Knight Foundation wanted to drive national dialogue around the information needs of communities and move people to take action. They knew they wanted more than a simple online PDF and were open to a variety of online approaches.
Collaborative began the project with the print design, creating a piece that balanced large amounts of text with compelling pull quotes and images that reinforced the text. Next, we developed an online platform that closely resembled the look and feel of the print piece. This interactive solution has a built in commenting feature that encourages users to discuss publicly specific recommendations put forth in the report, share ideas and challenge assumptions. The report site is also connected to Aspen's broader social media strategy, through blog posts, Twitter feeds and other online connections. Both the print piece and the online platform are available in English and Spanish.
The Knight Commission launched the report at a high profile event held at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The print piece was available for distribution and Commission members were able to encourage participation in the online dialogue.
Collaborative received the 2009 Summit International Award in the category of Public Service/Advocacy Web site for this work.
The National Art Education Association needed a Web site to convey the benefits of membership to potential members and to deliver value to current members. They wanted a Web site to serve as a virtual home to their audiences—a place where they could learn, share and connect, not just about NAEA but about their shared profession.
To create a dynamic online experience, Collaborative engaged directly with arts educators to learn what they needed in their professional development and to advance their careers. We also worked with NAEA to understand their organizational capacity and identified opportunities to build that capacity. We helped NAEA select and train a Web master. We delivered training and documentation that went beyond technical know-how and included recommendations on keeping content fresh, talking points around the site launch and identified ongoing outreach opportunities. We did more than simply deliver a Web site; we positioned NAEA for ongoing success.
The end-result is a premier, award-winning Web site that is as fresh now as it was when it launched in 2008. Features of the site include a monthly mentor blog, through which seasoned educators share ideas with and facilitate discussion among others in the NAEA community. Site visitors can read featured lesson plans while members can browse a library of lesson plans and submit their own. Members can also create an online gallery of their students’ work. There is a searchable membership directory complete with social networking opportunities. This is more than a Web site—it is the virtual home NAEA envisioned.