Developing research-based strategies for improving early grade reading proficiency in your community is a critical piece of work. What’s required is changing people’s environments and working through collaborative strategies and implementation approaches to change conditions in the community.
This will be the work of your coalition: creating broad community participation and collaboration, first to ensure that local plans reflect local perspectives, conditions, data and assets and then to implement those plans successfully and achieve lasting change.
This work should be grounded in an understanding of the aspirations, experiences and perspectives of diverse segments of the community. It should be informed by local input, local data, local research and expertise that helps partners and the community:
- Understand the real problems people in your community face, including underlying issues rooted in neighborhood conditions, public attitudes and the policies, practices, access issues, lack of coordination and other attributes of organizations and systems;
- Select the appropriate strategies for addressing those issues, taking current work into account so that efforts complement and support, rather than duplicate or compete;
- Adapt evidence-based implementation approaches to fit local conditions and assets;
- Mobilize and align individuals and organizations to give, advocate and volunteer to support the strategies; and
- Communicate progress and results to demonstrate accountability and engage more of the community in the work.
Collaborative efforts of this size and complexity benefit from having a lead organization that supports, facilitates and coordinates basic functions and moving parts. Different organizations will step into this role in different places. In many communities it may be United Way, having fulfilled this role in earlier multi-sector efforts such as Success By 6®, has the experience, capacity and earned trust to make this contribution to the work.
Whether or not United Way plays a prominent role in implementing these strategies, understanding the issues at play in all of the strategies is vital. Understanding is the first step on the path of credible and effective community leadership.
This work is not for community impact staff only! As underscored in their business model, United Ways’ ability to bring these strategies to life requires cross-functional strategy development work. Doing so can even boost investor relations work because we know bringing investors into the process of refining strategies is part of the work of framing impact strategies as investment products.