Community Engagement for Collective Impact: Lessons From Alaska

shaking hands
Forum for Youth Investment
Karen Pittman
October 14, 2014

People who run collective impact efforts say one of their toughest tasks is keeping community engagement going beyond the "summits" where everyone gets fired up. What does it mean to keep communities engaged in the mission that they've signed on for? Why is it so hard to do this well?

I mused on these questions in an earlier blog ("Putting Community Into Community Engagement"), promising to return with a story from a group that found a way to put community members at the head of its change efforts. My search took me as far from my comfort space (improving opportunities for urban, disadvantaged youth) as I could go: rural Alaska.

I didn't actually travel to Alaska -- only to Aspen, Colorado. That's where I met Brian McNitt, program officer for the Alaska Conservation Foundation and lead staff for its Sustainable Southeast Partnership. At the Collective Impact Funders Forum (hosted by the Aspen Institute and FSG) last spring, Brian told of how the foundation created a network of professional staff (called "catalysts") in the communities where it works. These catalysts keep the local work moving and keep the communities connected with each other and the foundation.

I interviewed Brian to find out more about how they made this work. Here are the six things I learned:

Define "community" the way the residents do. Southeastern Alaska is no more a community than Northern Kentucky (a region where the Forum works). Brian and the Foundation had to acknowledge that convening people from different geographically and sometimes culturally isolated communities to discuss how to address community problems was convenient for conveners, but did nothing to catalyze change locally. They decided to decentralize the effort and build capacity in 12 small communities.

Pick people, not organizations, to mobilize people. They waited to start organizing for change in a community until they found a resident "community catalyst" who had the passion, networks and skills needed to build momentum. In one community, the Foundation even stopped the work because it couldn't find an appropriate replacement for the original local catalyst.

Give the catalysts the right supports. Understanding the challenges and complexity of the work, they carefully created support scaffolding around these local leaders. First, they asked the community catalysts to help identify a local organization to host the local work. This organization then received a grant to hire the catalyst and support the effort.

Second, they hired regional catalysts with expertise in the each of their four resource issues (food security, renewable energy, sustainable economic development, natural resource management) to support the community catalysts. Third, they provide a rich array of online and face-to-face networking opportunities for both groups of catalysts.

Build the shared agenda from the bottom up. The Partnership has a central table. Several of the host organizations join Brian (the only Foundation staff person) on a Leadership Team that crafts and monitors progress toward a shared agenda. This agenda reflects the projects and priorities selected by advisory groups in each community. Brian noted, "We start with a person who has interest and connections, and work outward."

Believe in the tipping point approach. The Partnership works with seven of the 30 communities in Southeast Alaska, and hopes to expand to 12 within a few years. It does not think it needs to work directly in all 30. The Partnership is starting with the communities that are the most ready, hoping that deeply changing the norms in about one-third of the communities will eventually change norms across the region.

Stay true to the model. Brian was not only open but proud of the fact that the Foundation has gotten it wrong sometimes. It has replaced host organizations that weren't a good fit, usually because the host didn't embrace the collaborative spirit that is central to the initiative. Foundation staff have come close to wanting to speed things up by pressing through decisions or just doing the work themselves. They quickly realize (or are reminded of) the biggest lesson they have learned: "Unless we really embrace and support the idea of a community base -- people in the community, from the community, engaging others in the community -- and let that base tell us what's important, we won't get the level of buy-in necessary to move the agenda."

I asked Brian two questions that you're probably asking yourself: 1. Can you give me an example of change that has happened that you're sure would not have happened with a different approach? 2. This worked in rural Alaska, but do you think it has relevance for the rest of the country? His answers were not only yes, they were inspiring.

To see those answers and to learn more, read these excerpts from the interview.

Share this SparkAction Link: click here to shorten
The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

دانلود قسمت 14 چهاردهم سریال عاشقانه با لینک مستقیم, دانلود رایگان سریال عاشقانه, دانلود سریال جدید عاشقانه ایرانی دانلود سریال عاشقانه با لینک مستقیم, دانلود فیلم های جدید و برتر, دانلود رایگان فیلم و سریال با لینک مستقیم
دانلود قسمت 14 عاشقانه

July 18 at 08:40am

I highly recommend you continue on the following superb deliver the results plus I actually look ahead to extra within your magnificent content.
NutraTrim TrimFx Review

July 14 at 10:01am

Did you ever want to react on webform submission using rules but couldn't find the proper event ?
obat mata minus herbal
Webform Rules makes it possible to catch webform submissions by rules and do whatever you'd like to do with it (meaning: do whatever rules let you do with it) ...

June 21 at 10:23pm

Thanks for all your help and wishing you all the success in your business.

April 16 at 03:19pm

On the wood is the famous Lebanese bakery in Sharjah serve all kinds of bread, pastries and sweets. Dial 600546008 for FOOD DELIVERY service in Sharjah. You can also come and enjoy the finest Lebanese sweets.
Lebanese bakery in sharjah

April 14 at 08:26am

Offering wide collection of men designer bags made from high quality materials. Our bags made in Italy and we ship it for free to you.
designer mens leather messenger bags

April 4 at 08:36am

Brilliant .i love it reading.
Bluetooth Speaker Promotional Item

March 29 at 11:44am

Hmm… I read blogs on a similar topic, but i never visited your blog. I added it to favorites and i’ll be your constant reader.
Moreno Valley seo

March 28 at 12:57pm

The information you have posted is very useful. The sites you have referred was good. Thanks for sharing..
Creatif Designs

March 27 at 03:44pm

We can save you hundreds of dollars on new electric facial beds, manicure tables, pedicure chairs, led light therapy systems , nail salon equipment, massage tables, spa supplies, aromatherapy supplies, facial and massage therapy, aesthetic tables, facial steamer, a diamond microdermabrasion system, or even a crystal microdermabrasion machines.
Please take a few minutes of your time today and become a member to receive the best deals on salon and spa equipment and products; including private sale specials, exclusive coupons and other money saving deals from our wonderful selection.

March 27 at 09:32am

I truly enjoyed reading your post. we will bookmark your blog for future refernece. I want to encourage one to continue your Great post

March 26 at 05:04pm

Bosna Hersek Üniversiteleri türkiye temsilciliği Bosnada Eğitim Resmi Web Sitesi Study İn Bosnia Herzegovina
Bosna Hersek Üniversiteleri

March 26 at 12:20pm

High Quality Follower, Likes, Views, Comments, Website Traffic from Real User at the HQlike online shop.
buy Comments

March 26 at 08:49am

Excellent information on your blog, thank you for taking the time to share with us.

March 24 at 01:00pm

Nice knowledge gaining article.
pregnancy massage NJ

March 17 at 12:08pm

I love the way you write and share your niche! Very interesting and different! Keep it coming!
Traffic Trigger

March 17 at 10:08am

Agen Judi Online Bola, Taruhan Bola, Casino Online Dan Poker Online Terpercaya , Partner resmi Master Agen 805bet Yang Menyediakan Jasa Pembuatan akun betting Judi Online Terbaik, Aman Dan Terpercaya sejak 2011. Buktikan!!
agen judi

March 16 at 09:30am

The sites you have referred was good. Thanks for sharing..

March 15 at 03:34pm

In one place, experts get a quality checked and transparent overview of all Life Sciences jobs that we can find on the internet. BrightOwl is the place to be for Life Sciences experts looking for a job. We believe in the perfect mix of technology and a personal touch. A learning algorithm helps experts to filter out those jobs that best match their personal preferences and we help in the recruitment process with screenings and personal interviews.
laboratory jobs

March 14 at 04:51pm

I have read your blog it is very helpful for me. I want to say thanks to you. I have bookmark your site for future updates.
leased line costs

March 13 at 04:50pm

I really enjoy simply reading all of your weblogs. Simply wanted to inform you that you have people like me who appreciate your work.
Sell Your Annuities

March 13 at 02:38pm

Paper Writing Experts is a reputed and leading provider of custom academic papers and proofreading services. Our highly qualified writers can produce high quality academic essays and dissertations within short deadlines. We guarantee Plagiarism-free content and 100% confidentiality.
essay help online

March 13 at 10:55am

Je Trouwpak kopen bij Suits at Sea is een gezellig en leuk uitje voor de bruidegom met aanhang. Ze verkopen luxe Trouwpakken voor mannen, die je zelf tot in detail style'd. En met oog voor detail worden je Trouwpak op Maat gemaakt, topkwaliteit. En tevredenheid wordt gegarandeerd. Wil je ook je Trouwpak op maat laten maken? Check de site!
Trouwpak kopen

March 12 at 04:25pm

howdy, your websites are really good. I appreciate your work.

March 12 at 02:44pm

I am appreciating it very much! Looking forward to another great article.
here hair care and skin care tips website

March 11 at 05:14pm

Luxury timepieces, Rolex, Hublot, Omega, Cartier, Breitling, Ulysee Nardin, IWC, Chopard, Diamond watches.
shop diamond rings

March 11 at 03:04pm

Luxury timepieces, Rolex, Hublot, Omega, Cartier, Breitling, Ulysee Nardin, IWC, Chopard, Diamond watches.
shop diamond rings

March 11 at 03:02pm

Webmusic In Hindi Songs Bollywood latest Movies Songs Free Download in

March 11 at 11:22am

but this articles quality is much, much better. How you do this..
does male extra really work

March 9 at 05:03pm

Among the lots of comments on your articles. Thanks for sharing.

March 9 at 03:25pm

Thank you for this post. Thats all I are able to say. You most absolutely have built this blog website into something speciel
kou tea reviews

March 9 at 02:02pm

I would like to say that this blog really convinced me to do it! Thanks, very good post.
brestrogen amazon

March 9 at 10:41am

Thanks for this great post, i find it very interesting and very well thought out and put together. I look forward to reading your work in the future.
fda approved nootropics

March 8 at 02:08pm

I’m excited to uncover this page. I need to to thank you for ones time for this particularly fantastic read !!
where can i buy human growth hormone

March 8 at 11:31am

Someone Sometimes with visits your blog regularly and recommended it in my experience to read as well.
free numerology reading online

March 8 at 08:59am

Very nice article, I enjoyed reading your post, very nice share,
custom retail bags with logo

March 6 at 05:15pm

I use this Article to show my assignment in is useful For me Great Work.
imprinted shopping bags

March 6 at 12:19pm

I really liked the design and out look of this blog. Keep up the good work. It really made my day!
online marketing

March 3 at 01:59pm

Teratak guesthouse is a cosy yet affordable accommodation located in bandar hilir, the historical malacca city. It is a must try budget homestay and hotels in Melaka town. Homestay Teratak menyediakan tempat penginapan murah dan bilik hotel bajet di bandar hilir Melaka
Melaka budget homestay

March 1 at 11:25am

We expect articles saying that ecommerce solutions are very modern way to get new impacts from the internet presence.
course ecommerce solution

February 28 at 05:15pm

The number one website and blog to visit for animal tips, articles, advice and how to guides. Great destination for pet owners, visit

February 23 at 11:25am is a full-service residential and commercial landscaping company servicing Plainfield, Naperville, Bolingbrook and Romeoville, IL. On Demand Grass is the only full-service landscaping company to offer on demand landscaping services in Will County, IL.
Low pricing, reliable service, locally owned and operated.
Landscaping Companies Bolingbrook

February 22 at 03:54pm

Cheap holidays | the hotels, apartments, villas, camp houses, rent the boat, hotels with exclusive discounts | children free | Booking directly from the provider
cheap holiday

February 18 at 02:52pm

Will surely going to share this URL with my friends.
does d bal really work

February 10 at 05:44pm

You just got a new biggest fan!..
how to hide your man breasts

February 10 at 03:46pm

I Always prefer to read The Quality and glad I found this thing in you post. Thanks
liposomalni vitamin c

February 8 at 12:12pm

I've just decided to create a blog, which I have been wanting to do for a while. Thanks for this post, it's really useful!
gastric bypass weight loss

February 7 at 06:25pm

Your site furnished us with profitable to work with. Each and every tips of your post are marvelous. You're the best to share. Continue blogging.
how can i apply for financial aid in joplin mo

February 7 at 04:30pm

I think this is a really good article. You make this information interesting and engaging. You give readers a lot to think about and I appreciate that kind of writing
pharmacy technician training joplin mo

February 7 at 02:35pm

very interesting post.this is my first time visit here.i found so mmany interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion..thanks for the post!
click here

February 7 at 10:28am


receive our updates

Back to:

Spark Tweets