Spreading Innovation Through Collective Impact
Stories of Collaboration Between Community-Based Organizations and Public Systems
Community and civic leaders are doubling down in the search for cross-sector solutions to pressing social and economic issues. Many are turning to collective impact, the current term for a set of strategies that leaders across the public and private sectors can use to focus their energies on a defined challenge facing the community. Collective impact is proving to be a particularly attractive approach to bring to bear on the situation faced by opportunity youth—young people between 16 and 24 years old who find themselves outside the mainstream education and workforce institutions at a very critical and vulnerable time in their lives. At the same time, as the young people themselves point out on surveys or in interviews, many of them are not entirely disconnected, for example some connect to local community-based organizations (CBOs). When the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions launched the Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund (OYIF) in 21 communities across the United States in 2013, nonprofit organizations in each of these communities served as neutral conveners of stakeholders serving opportunity youth.This brief shares stories from the OYIF sites—the first section offers examples from the sites on how collaboratives are working with youth-serving CBOs to align and sequence their programming, track progress, fill gaps, and reduce redundancies. The second section explores ongoing work at the sites to bring together innovative partnerships between nonprofit CBOs and public systems. Our hope is that this brief will be useful to participants in collective impact efforts across the country as they try to tackle one of the central tasks and compelling promises of collective impact—to fashion systemic solutions that go beyond and knit together the disparate programs that have sprung up to address challenges faced by the young people who are being shut out of opportunity.