Cross-Sector Partnerships

Points of Light CEO meets with Edmondson, other Ohio leaders

In her latest ChangeNotes newsletter, Points of Light CEO Michelle Nunn speaks about her recent encounters with collaboration, collective impact, and compassion. One such encounter was with Jeff Edmondson, where Nunn was "taken by Jeff's vision of the importance of a multi-sector approach - how his community of Cincinnati is finding that downtown development, education and virtually every other advance is dependent upon cross-sector collaboration and civic leadership."

Public-Private Partnerships For School Improvement Efforts

Emily Richmond, public editor of the National Education Writers Association, highlighted the efforts of the Strive Partnership in her article on the recent policy forum held in New Orleans, hosted by The After-School Corporation and the Partnership for Youth Development.

The Necessity of Cross-Sector Collaboration

In her commentary, Becky Ceperley (CEO of the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation) speaks to the necessity and growing desire for cross-sector collaboration when facing social issues, and commends Strive for its "remarkable results."

To read the full article, follow this link: Sharing in School Reforms

Sharing Accountability for Student Success

In this Education Sector blog post, Christopher Caruso speaks to the importance of school partners, strong relationships, shared goals, and shared accountability towards making real change in our schools. Caruso highlights the Strive Partnership for its success and strategies. 

To read the whole article, follow this link: Sharing the Heavy Lift on School Improvement

A Promise for Albany's Kids

The Albanay Promise, a new initiative that aims to take a more holistic approach to educating children, is modeled in part after Strive: "Now, along comes a partnership of dozens of school, business, and community stakeholders to form The Albany Promise, billed as an effort to change a cycle that has seemed all but unbreakable. Its goal is nothing less than giving children in the city's poorest neighborhoods the same chance in life as middle- and upper-class kids."

Civic Infrastructure Assessment


The Assessment helps communities gain a deeper understanding of the Framework for building Cradle to Career Civic Infrastructure, while also helping StriveTogether ensure that we are maintaining quality and rigor in our Network. It is an important first step for communities wishing to join the Cradle to Career Network. The Assessment serves as a tool to help communities understand unique strengths and obstacles through progression in the Theory of Action. It is meant to assess how communities move through the Theory of Action Gateways in achieving specific quality benchmarks. By crossing through each Gateway, there is a greater likelihood for sustained impact and improvement over time. These quality benchmarks are essential for ensuring a community transforms how they serve children. Most importantly, communities achieve population-level impact when the community-level outcomes set by the Partnership consistently trend in the right direction. To this end, partnerships should complete a Progress Assessment annually to detail progress through the Theory of Action.



StriveTogether has developed the Civic Infrastructure Assessment based on the Theory of Action. The Assessment process is structured to help partnerships understand where they are in terms of the Theory of Action Gateways and which quality benchmarks they have met on their way to becoming a Proof Point. The process is not intended to be punitive. StriveTogether will work to organize Cradle to Career Network resources and supports around these benchmarks and Gateways, directing partnerships twoard appropriate tools, resources, and strategic assistance, as well as helping partnerships connect with others working on the same issues. The Assessment process also serves as an accountability measure and a way for partnerships to demonstrate their commitment to working to meet quality benchmarks.

We have heard from partnerships across the Network that the quality benchmarks outlined along the path toward building a sustainable civic infrastructure provide a picture that is easy for cross-sector partners to understand.  Luckily, most communities approach this work with some history of partnership and collaboration and, as a result, can identify existing assets in the community to aid in accomplishing these quality benchmarks much more expeditiously.  

Communities who wish to join the Cradle to Career Network should begin by completing the Civic Infrastructure Assessment. To do so, please contact Bridget Jancarz at for additional information and instructions, including a link and password to access the Assessment online. Once complete, the StriveTogether team will contact you to discuss your responses and next steps.To fully join the Network communities will need to have achieved all of the quality benchmarks in the Exploring Gateway, signed a Commitment to Quality, and paid a membership fee.

For questions regarding  the Civic Infrastructure Assessment, please see the Frequently Asked Questions page or contact Jennifer Perkins, Impact & Improvement Associate Director at or Bridget Jancarz, Impact & Improvement Associate at


The StriveTogether Story

For decades communities have worked to improve student achievement through a piecemeal set of reforms and siloed set of systems and programs. These efforts have not led to the desired improvements in student achievement, calling for a dramatically different means of supporting student success.

Promoted by community leaders in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, an effort was launched in 2006 to target a problem of being 'program rich and system poor.' This effort, The Strive Partnership, is contributing to improved student outcomes. These successes have been achieved after significant investments of time, talent, and treasure by cross sector community leaders committed prioritizing education for their region. The Partnership engages executive and grassroots partners in the vision, works through turf issues among service providers, and encourages funders to move existing resources to proven strategies.

During its first five years in Greater Cincinnati, Strive noted positive improvements in 40 of the 53 educational outcomes it measured. Consider just a few of these statistics:


There has been a 9% rise in kindergarten readiness. Research shows the importance of beginning as you plan to go on. If a child is ready to learn on the first day of the first year of school, the chances of continued academic success are greatly enhanced.


An 11% increase in high school graduation was achieved. Graduation is not the end of education, but it is an important step towards a successful career and a continued lifetime of learning.


A 10% increase in college enrollment was recorded:  To succeed in the 21st century workforce, post secondary education, either college or technical training, is a must.


The founders of The Strive Partnership included Nancy Zimpher, then president of the University of Cincinnati, Michael Graham, SJ, president of Xavier University, and James Votruba, president of Northern Kentucky University, along with the superintendents of the Cincinnati, Ohio, and Covington and Newport, Ky., school districts. The founders thus represented the three public school districts at the region’s heart, as well as the region’s three largest teacher training centers. Top executives from several of the area’s major employers and charitable foundations were brought on board, along with directors of civic groups such as the United Way and Urban League.

This was a broad and potent mix of influence and leadership, but it could not have succeeded without a willingness of the partners to set aside individual agendas in favor of a collaborative approach to raising student achievement.  

The Strive partnership in Greater Cincinnati learned several important lessons in achieving its success. Those lessons now are passed on to other organizations joining StriveTogether’s Cradle to Career Network:

  • Strong leadership must be balanced with authentic partner engagement.
  • Shared accountability and shared responsibility must be established early in the process.
  • It is important to engage in strategic planning with education stakeholders from throughout the community.
  • Credibility is built through clear and open communications of the organization’s successes – and its failures.

The strength of the partnership has outlasted the presence of many of the original members. It is the shared vision and dedication of the partnership to a common purpose that continues to propel The Strive Partnership’s success in Greater Cincinnati.

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