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Collective Impact leads to a winning strategy

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As many of you know, I am a die-hard Illinois football fan and my wife will tell you that my decked-out Fighting Illini trailer is just one example of my obsession. Illinois memorabilia adorns my office, I sport a large orange and blue wardrobe, and, for years, I have been a faithful season ticket holder.

I am also a fan of Collective Impact (CI), the buzz word for collaborative work. I am a fan of CI because it represents one of the best ways to achieve measured social impact and in a similar fashion it helps a football team win championships.

The first element of CI is a common agenda. In football, the agenda is to win. For United Way, our agenda is to fight for the education, health and financial stability of every one in our community.

The second element of CI is shared measurement. Anyone who watches football knows how many yards account for a first down and what the score is. Collective Impact means each party working together is measuring the same thing: one bold goal, one way to measure it, one report to the community.

The third element of CI is mutually reinforcing activities. Just as a football team works to support every player, United Way and its partners work to strengthen and bolster each other's work, eliminating duplication.

Fourthly, CI requires continuous communication. Players cannot turn a deaf ear to the coaches' instructions, the commands given in the huddle, or the directions issued by trainers and officials. Likewise, with Collective Impact, everyone must talk to each other on a regular basis and share critical information.

And lastly, for CI to really be effective there must be a strong backbone organization that is responsible for guiding the vision, building goodwill, and mobilizing funding. Much like coaching, a backbone organization must layout the winning strategy, make sure "players" are working together, and of course, ensure that all needed resources are available.

United Way is uniquely positioned to serve the role of backbone in our community. With our experience of serving the region for 98 years, the support we receive from donors, and our interconnectedness to human service agencies, we remain dedicated to leading a vision for a strong future.

The Black Male InitiativeParenthood Promise and Zion West Enterprises are just some of our game-changing solutions to the problems in our community that follow a Collective Impact model.

Currently United Way is setting a strategic "game plan" for the next three years. Our tactics will follow a collective impact process with partners across the region. While I can't guarantee the Illini winning the Big Ten championship this year (or ever), I can predict, with confidence, that by working together our community has the best chance of winning the struggle to overcome our significant challenges.




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Guest Tuesday, 12 December 2017