Children First for Oregon Partners with United Way to Break the Cycle of Poverty

Leading Area Non-Profits Utilize “Collective Impact” Approach to Reduce Poverty for Children and Families

Children First for Oregon is pleased to announce that it has been chosen as one of 30 select organizations to participate in United Way of the Columbia-Willamette’s new Community Strengthening collaborative cohort designed to improve outcomes for low-income children and their families, and ultimately break the cycle of childhood poverty in the four-county Metro region.

The collaborative cohort, which is based on the “collective impact” approach, is part of United Way of the Columbia-Willamette’s new strategic direction to leverage the expertise, resources, and effort of multiple organizations across the region in working together toward one common goal: breaking the cycle of childhood poverty.

United Way’s Community Strengthening cohort is comprised of 30 emerging and established non-profits serving low income and culturally specific communities across the metropolitan area. The cohort will work together for a period of three years (July 2014 through June 2017) to create and participate in learning communities designed to share experiences, exchange data and information, and build collective knowledge around new and promising practices to improve outcomes for low-income families and their children. Each member of the Community Strengthening cohort will be awarded up to $50,000 per year, to complete this critical work. (*Funding to Children First and the other non-profits in the cohort is contingent on the funding United Way receives as an organization to its Breaking the Cycle fund.)

“We are honored to participate in United Way’s Community Strengthening cohort. Now is the time for collective action to improve the lives of children and reduce childhood poverty in our region,” says Children First Executive Director Tonia Hunt. “United Way is leading the way.”

Each non-profit organization participating in United Way of the Columbia-Willamette’s Community Strengthening cohort has agreed to share their results through a common measurement framework, to work together on critical problems and innovations in the field, and to build a common knowledge base about collective impact on childhood poverty in our region.

“We are ecstatic to be collaborating with the outstanding organizations selected to be a part of our Community Strengthening cohort on breaking the cycle of childhood poverty. The issue of poverty is incredibly complex, with multiple facets; it’s a far greater issue than any one organization can resolve alone,” said Keith Thomajan, CEO of United Way of the Columbia-Willamette. “In utilizing the collective impact model, we are confident we can amplify and accelerate the impact we are making in our community specific to student success, family stability, and connected communities to give every child, regardless of their socioeconomic status, a fair chance at success. Quite simply, we are better together.”

 The Collective Impact Model

The collective impact model, as articulated by the non-profit consulting group Foundation Strategy Group (FSG), is a model of work that brings people together, in a structured way, to achieve social change. There are five conditions** of “collective impact” that lead to meaningful results:

  1. common agenda: All participants have a shared vision for change including a common understanding of the problem and a joint approach to solving it through agreed upon actions
  2. Shared MeasurementCollecting data and measuring results consistently across all participants ensures efforts remain aligned and participants hold each other accountable
  3. Mutually Reinforcing Activities: Participant activities must bedifferentiated while still being coordinated through a mutually reinforcing plan of action
  4. Continuous CommunicationConsistent and open communication is needed across the many players to build trust, assure mutual objectives, and appreciate common motivation
  5. Backbone Organization: Creating and managing collective impact requires a separate organization(s) with staff and a specific set of skills to serve as the backbone for the entire initiative and coordinate participating organizations and agencies (The backbone organization for the Community Strengthening strategy is United Way of the Columbia-Willamette.) 

**Source: Foundation Strategy Group (FSG) http://www.fsg.org/OurApproach/CollectiveImpact.aspx

 To learn more about United Way’s Community Strengthening strategy and the other organizations involved in the cohort, please visithttp://www.unitedway-pdx.org/community-strengthening-investments

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