John F. Kennedy once said that “the time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” We’ve known our roof has leaks — our systems have been designed to produce wicked disparities in American communities for hundreds of years. But now here we are, in the middle of a storm, with no other option but to work to repair what’s broken.
Fortunately, collective impact partnerships are well positioned to lead the desperately needed response, recovery and resilience efforts in communities across the country. In fact, they’re already doing it. After engaging in conversations with more than 40 of these partnerships over the past week, here are some of the ways I see them leaning in.
Response. Graduate Tacoma in Tacoma, Wash., quickly partnered with the local Urban League to establish an online resource hub to share resources on everything from food and housing assistance to at-home activities with community residence.
Recovery. E3 Alliance, which serves Central Texas, is working to mobilize volunteer mentors and tutors to support graduating high school seniors as they prepare to transition to postsecondary opportunities. This isn’t just a recovery response — the region intends to grow and accelerate this practice in the future to ensure all young people have the guidance and resources they need when making a major life transition.
Resilience. In addition to helping design and implement the state of Utah’s emergency child care program, Promise Partnership of Salt Lake is leading a state task force to create a stabilization program for the child care sector so that there is a transformed and more resilient system in place for the long haul.
Across the national Cradle to Career Network, these partnerships have mobilized to respond to immediate needs, even as they prepare to drive long-term systems change. They are nimble. They practice adaptive leadership. They serve as convener, connector, data collector and analyst. They capture stories from the community and make the case for change.
This is our new normal. It can feel quite heavy and daunting. But I’m inspired by the resilience I see in this incredible movement of carpenters leaning into the work they were designed to do.