(BPT) – Most of us can come up with at least one good idea to help solve our community’s most pressing challenges.
Moving that solution past the kitchen-table discussion stage to implementation is the challenging road down which every idea must pass. It takes time, effort and capital to develop an influential cause from the ground up. But more importantly, it often takes teamwork with multiple sets of hands pulling in the same direction to create real, lasting change.
The Thriving Cities project has examined how and why some communities are able to work through complex challenges in order to flourish and thrive. Their data shows that cities and communities that are able to establish unconventional coalitions – a collection of groups and individuals that otherwise might not cross paths but are willing to come together to address a common challenge – establish far greater success over the long term.
There are myriad examples of organizations across the Pacific Northwest that are utilizing the unconventional coalition model to enlist support from individuals, nonprofits, business partners, government officials, faith-based leaders, community groups and educators to serve the common good. Consider these five nonprofits who are harnessing the power of collaboration and embracing the diverse ecosystem of community partners to make a positive difference in their local communities.
Bridging divides to put foster children first: More than 11,000 children spend at least one day in foster care in Oregon every year. Providing comfort and support to these vulnerable children, as well as helping ensure they find a permanent, loving family, are significant priorities for a variety of organizations and communities across the state that have not traditionally worked in concert with one another. Building on a model piloted by Embrace Oregon in the Portland region, Every Child Oregon has facilitated strategic partnerships that bridge traditional gaps to bring government offices, faith-based groups and locally-focused community organizations together to serve children in need. Since its inception, the nonprofit has provided a variety of resources to help care for children and families in the foster care system, from helping recruit, train and support new foster parents to assembling tens of thousands of welcome boxes to help children transition into foster homes. They are now on track to work in every county in the state.
A multifaceted way to tackle homelessness: Rasmuson Foundation, an organization with an aim of making a better life for Alaskans, is partnering with the municipality of Anchorage to bring together local business leaders and local service providers such as Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) on Greater Opportunities for Affordable Living (GOAL) to invest in housing developments throughout Alaska’s largest city. Their goal is to build 18,000 housing units in the next decade.
Full speed ahead for a city’s kids: In a new, co-designed building on a university campus that embeds teacher preparation inside a public school, hundreds of students in Portland, Oregon, are getting a chance to pursue their highest dreams, with a distinct focus on wellness to grow healthy minds and bodies. Concordia University-Portland has pulled together partnerships with Portland Public Schools’ Faubion School PK-8, Trillium Family Services, Basics Market and Kaiser Permanente to create a unique and dynamic campus that prepares teachers while educating and enriching students and their families through the ‘3 to PhD’ initiative.
Building better health solutions: PATH is an international organization that brings scientists, health professionals, engineers and expert front line practitioners from other specialties together to tackle some of humanity’s most challenging health issues, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Ebola and HIV. As a result, they develop exciting new innovations that reach over 150 million people a year in 70 countries.
Stronger support for children with disabilities: When a child is born with a disability or experiences a developmental delay, their family needs support and guidance. With the help of Kindering, which has four campuses in Washington (Bellevue, Bothell, Redmond and Renton), more than 5,000 families a year get access to a deep well of special education and developmental therapy expertise. Kindering has formed partnerships with hospitals, government agencies and medical facilities, in part, to connect families with early interventions children need during that critical window of brain development occurring between birth and age 3.
Making a difference in your community
As the above examples show, organizations and individuals can unite and make meaningful change in unexpected ways. The next time you’re inspired to make a difference, think beyond your inner circle. You never know who’s out there, wanting to help as much as you do!
For inspiration and to learn more about the ways the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust supports partnerships such as these, visit Murdocktrust.org.