Making daily change to transform systems in Utah
In Utah’s Salt Lake region, community leaders are thinking beyond single organizations and services to come together for better results for kids and families.
United Way of Salt Lake (UWSL) uses collective impact to support different sectors to collaborate on common challenges. These efforts are organized through Promise Partnership of Salt Lake, a member of the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network. Learn about one of the region’s accomplishments below, and read the full case study here.
Improving reading by getting students to school
Third-grade reading is essential to future success because it lays the foundation for nearly all of the learning that follows. In the Promise Partnership region, the latest data shows a troubling trend: Just 47% of the state’s students of color are proficient in reading by third grade, and just 66% of students overall are proficient. At the same time, the rates of chronic absence in the early grades were steadily increasing. Those missed days put students behind socially and academically, including impacting reading.
Partnering to make a change, UWSL and StriveTogether held a series of learning sessions with six teams representing eight schools. The teams started with research, collecting data and speaking with teachers, students and parents. Based on what they learned, the teams then tested strategies like displaying attendance data, holding competitions with rewards and pairing students with adult mentors. Teams shared information in real time, asking questions and learning faster than they would have working alone.
What resulted from all these efforts was significant. At one school, chronic absenteeism among students with disabilities dropped from 21% at the start of the 2015-16 school year to 17% at the end of the year, while the proportion of these students who met reading benchmarks in third grade more than doubled.
Working smarter and sharing learning
Collaborative improvement can be difficult and time-consuming. But Promise Partnership has embedded the improvement efforts in day-to-day work.
“We aren’t asking them to do more. We are just supporting them to do it smarter, and to do it differently,” says Danya Pastuszek, chief operating officer for UWSL.
StriveTogether’s collaborative improvement methodology helps communities working toward better cradle-to-career outcomes for every child, and it starts with the idea that change can only begin with action.
“People want to work together to solve problems, but sharing accountability for population-level results is the key challenge,” says Bill Crim, UWSL’s president and CEO. “Collective impact is about getting people to step back and say, ‘I can be accountable for the whole,’ and to trust that by working in a rigorous way we can actually solve big problems.”