AT&T and United Way Worldwide (UWW) awarded twenty sites nationwide with a Family Engagement for High School Success Grant, which supports its initiative to help parents and caregivers get more involved in their child’s education, leading to high school success and workforce readiness.
UWW needed to support these sites with the initial planning and awareness building around family engagement in their local communities.
UWW teamed up with Collaborative to facilitate this initial conversation. Bringing in our expertise on not only effective facilitation, but also extensive experience with family engagement, we guided these sites through the initial planning phases and helped them design effective strategies for their outreach.
By providing extensive support from the onset, these sites are equipped with the necessary knowledge and tools to engage families in their communities. The Harvard Family Research Project will be providing an ongoing evaluation of this project, which allows sites to understand the effectives of their strategies. As sites improve outreach, they support the UWW’s long-term goal of cutting the high school dropout rate in half by 2018.
The Education Foundation of Collier County (EFCC) sought assistance with community engagement to bring the community together in a time of turmoil on education issues.
Collaborative teamed up with EFCC to implement a comprehensive community engagement effort, called Connect Now, which included the following:
Structure and facilitation of a steering committee representative of all key stakeholders.
Design, coordination, facilitation and documentation of conversations among residents across all neighborhoods.
Design, facilitation and documentation of cross-sector community-wide forums that build and solidify a community vision for public education.
Collaborative’s experience leading similar efforts gave confidence and support the leadership effort played by EFCC in creating and moving Connect Now forward.
The Connect Now process allowed the community to have ownership of its vision for education. Through Collaborative’s efforts, the EFCC and community stakeholders gained the ability to facilitate effective conversations about education. Building this internal capacity within the community allowed this community to continue discussions, which would lead to the school district’s decision to develop a district strategic plan.
Learn more about what the steering committee members said about this process.
The final product – a statement from the community about the future of education. That statement is serving as the foundation for organizational and school district planning.
Collaborative and the Kettering Foundation wanted to tell the story of the meaningful and widespread engagement in Mobile County, Alabama.
Collaborative worked with the Mobile Area Education Foundation (MAEF) to bring out the deep, meaningful and widespread engagement that took place in Mobile County in the past three years. Furthermore, it wanted to highlight the various historic, civic and cultural conditions in the community that made this engagement possible.
In addition to MAEF, Collaborative met with other key participants including:
Yes We Can campaign
PASSport to Excellence strategic plan for Mobile County public schools
Collaborative's publication work demonstrates how it can actively engage communities to promote education, produce concise and informative products, and disseminate this information-offering examples of how other communities could utilize similar strategies to promote positive change.
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 Harwood Institute for Public Innovation (THI) sought support to implement its Community Engagement Initiative (CEI)-an effort with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to develop and implement new ways for public broadcasters to deepen their local significance and improve the civic health of communities.
Work on the CEI was centered on The Institute's belief that many Americans have retreated into their close-knit circles and are disconnected, but people are yearning to re-engage and become part of something larger. THI saw public broadcasters as among the last boundary-spanning organizations in communities with the standing to counteract these trends. The CEI sought to assist 12 public broadcasting stations in the journey from inward looking radio and television stations into public media organizations that are driven by community input and involvement.
Collaborative led the project management of the two-year long CEI and provided key substantive support. We:
Coordinated the project team, managed an online project space, and facilitated weekly check in meetings and regular, longer team planning meetings
Helped design and facilitate five convenings with public broadcasters, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and THI staff
Identified key turning points in the work and adjusted work plans to account for those findings
Helped create metrics for evaluating stations' impact
Coached six of the twelve stations, providing one-on-one support for the duration of the project to help participants change organizational practices
Documented the progress and needs of stations and the efficacy of the CEI model
As a result of the project team's efforts, The Harwood Institute completed the CEI with documentation and knowledge it could use to standardize its work in the future. Collaborative organized all documentation into a resource library and helped to create final reports and summaries of the CEI's impact on the 12 stations.
Ultimately, stations saw change as a result:
Communities have improved. New networks have grown, people are talking who had been at odds and individuals are connecting with community resources.
Programs are better. They are more relevant and more authentically reflect what is happening in the community.
Stations individually have turned outward and become more significant in their communities. A major funder told one station manager, "You've come a long way, baby," while a prominent community member said to another, "Thank you for caring about our community."
Stations as a group have changed how they work, aligned their efforts for impact and now have ways of measuring their results.
Fundraising is up, even during difficult financial times.
Collaborative supported The Harwood Institute's commitment to using video as a way of sharing knowledge, and regularly included videos in CEI participants' learning. View how participating stations changed their view of community and their role as a public broadcaster serving the community:
Seeing Others as a Resource. Kimberlie Kranich of WILL talks about the challenge of creating change, the need to ask for help and the power that comes from seeing other stations as a resource.
Better Programming Through Engagement. Kevin Crane of WNPT talks about being surprised about conversations that don't turn out the way he would have expected.
The Importance of Metrics. Mark Leonard from WILL talks about the importance of metrics in community engagement work.
Staying Focused When Your Cup Runneth Over. Amy Shaw of KETC talks about trying to move forward effectively at a time when opportunities abound.
The MetroHartford Alliance (MHA) asked Collaborative to assess the future potential of a local education fund (LEF) in Hartford, CT, and to help the Alliance solidify the establishment of the LEF.
Collaborative assisted with the research and discovery process, benchmarking of comparable LEFs, design and facilitation of the Hartford Education Collaborative’s meetings, and developed an initial business plan for the potential LEF.
Collaborative’s efforts have resulted in the development of a strategic plan for the local LEF, which the firm continues to support with guidance. We also created a Web site to help decision makers build understanding of local and national issues relevant to the future of education in Hartford and the role(s) such an organization might play in the community, with the school system and in relation to other existing nonprofits.
MHA also asked Collaborative to provide its Leadership Recruitment Services to help lead a national search for the executive director of the new LEF to ensure the organization begins strongly in its efforts to improve civic engagement in Hartford.