In early 2016 the data in the Wilder Research Risk & Reach Report motivated NMF personnel to interview stakeholders in the region who work with at-risk children and their families. We heard first-hand about families overwhelmed by substance abuse, children who do not have enough food to eat, and children sleeping without mattresses. Conditions and risks for the children are getting worse, not better, with higher levels of substance abuse and more people living in poverty than before.

We will initiate a deep dive into three (3) targeted communities with high poverty rates and disparity gaps to help strengthen children and families through improved family supports. We will promote and facilitate the Collective Impact structured framework to organize community-led, community-driven “coming together” for a shared vision and action.  The Collective Impact framework recognizes that no single organization can address the type of social change that is needed for children and families.  The following table outlines the five conditions for Collective Impact work. We Build Better Lives when the support around our region’s children & families are better able to meet their needs and to help them reach their goals.

 

The Children & Families program uses a closed application process. Proposals for funding are accepted only from communities and organizations that are invited to apply.

Collective Impact Framework: The Five Conditions of Collective Impact

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.

Collecting data and measuring results consistently across all participants ensures efforts remain aligned and participants hold each other accountable.

Participant activities must be differentiated while still being coordinated through a mutually reinforcing plan of action.

Consistent and open communications is needed across the many players to build trust, assure mutual objectives, and create common motivation.

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.

Where needed, we will provide the backbone support that the partners need to be successful and to carry out the shared vision.

 

Possible areas for action in each community include (the following is not an exhaustive or final list; the priorities must be community-led, community-driven):

  • Pre-natal supports for families
  • Quality early child care and education
  • Kindergarten readiness
  • Housing situations stabilized and chronic school absenteeism reduced
  • Food stability
  • Supports for mental health, substance abuse, and/or social-emotional behavior
  • Family and parenting support including entrepreneur & small business development
  • Grade 3 reading proficiency
  • Families at risk for foster placement remain intact
  • High school graduation rates

 

We are looking for challenges and communities that fit the following criteria.

  1. A critical issue is defined related to children and families (program goals), backed up by data and evidence of the issue.
  2. A community collaborative is ready to go, relationships are established.
  3. Delivery systems are established, in service of the target population.
  4. Ability to capitalize on an opportunity, timing, local momentum, external funding.
  5. There is a role for NMF to play, where we can make a real difference.