Five Collective Impact Components Guiding Northfield Promise:
- A common agenda: Northfield Promise is adopting a cradle-to-career continuum with key benchmarks.
- Shared community level metrics to assess the impact: Northfield Promise releases an annual community report card, tracking community-level results for each of the identified benchmarks.
- Continuous communication among partners
- Mutually reinforcing activities: Northfield Promise aims to ensure that community partners’ activities build off each other and that examples of local greatness are highlighted, supported and brought to scale.
- Presence of a backbone organization: The Northfield Healthy Community Initiative (HCI) is providing its organizational resources to help serve as the behind-the-scenes support for Northfield Promise.
Collective impact seeks to fundamentally change the way the community operates. Moving forward, instead of blaming others when efforts don’t go as planned, is there a culture of shared accountability? Rather than each institution planning projects in isolation, is there intentional coordination and communication? Do efforts of different institutions build on one another? What is the benefit that partner organizations see — and that the wider community experiences — from all of these sectors working together? If the Northfield Promise initiative truly “works,” the answers to these questions should be different than they would be today.
For more information about collective impact, visit Stanford Social Innovation Review:
Northfield has been named by America’s Promise as one of the nation’s “100 Best Communities for Young People” the last three times the award has been given. However, what does this mean? In a community that values education, why are minority and low-income youth trailing their classmates in average reading and math proficiency by approximately 25%? Why are increasing numbers of Northfield children now on free/reduced lunch (currently 1/3 of the Northfield elementary school population, up 50% since 2004)? In a community that prides itself on its youth engagement, why do one in four teenagers report that adults in the community don’t care about them?
Strive Together is the national leader in collective impact. HCI has adopted the Strive Together framework for Northfield Promise, as the organizations have a shared belief that education is a lifelong experience that begins well before a child ever sets foot in a classroom and continues long past a cap and gown commencement. The only way to reach the goal of success for every student is to think about how the community as a whole can support students at every step, from cradle to career. The Strive Together approach brings together cross-sector community leaders and practitioners, at various points along the education pipeline, to improve outcomes for kids.
One of the reasons partners are drawn to the Strive framework is that it grants communities complete autonomy in picking their benchmarks. While many Strive communities have focused exclusively on academic-related benchmarks, Northfield partners repeatedly stressed the need for the continuum to include both academic and social/emotional/physical benchmarks. Similarly, HCI liked the Strive framework because it respects great work already underway in the community; rather than saying we need to start over from square one, the concept seeks to highlight local greatness, align additional community resources to support it, and bring it to scale whenever possible.
Learn more about Strive Together by visiting http://www.strivetogether.org.