Nonprofit news roundup, 10.16.15

Hirsch named CEO at Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina

Sharon Hirsch, executive director of Donate Life North Carolina, will join Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina on October 26 as president and CEO.

She succeeds Anne Sorhagen, board treasurer and former vice chair of the board of directors for Prevent Child Abuse, who has been serving as interim CEO.

Hirsch previously held two leadership roles at the Durham County Department of Social Services, where she created the department’s Leadership Academy to develop future agency leaders, and managed an agency budget of over $300 million.

She also has served as the first executive director of the North Carolina Association of County Directors of Social Services, and as staff director at The Council for State Governments in Lexington, Ky.

Golden Corral boosts expansion of Beginning Teacher Network

A three-year, $150,000 investment from Golden Corral will help he Public School Forum of North Carolina expand its Beginning Teacher Network to Mecklenburg and Union Counties in spring 2016.

With support from Golden Corral, the Forum launched the Network as a pilot program in Wake County earlier this year with 24 early-career teachers, and this fall increased it to more than 80.

The Public School Forum began recruiting teachers in Mecklenburg and Union Counties this month, and is in talks to expand the program to two additional counties by the spring.

The Network focuses on education policy, cross-career collaboration, and professional development.

Greensboro-based Junior Achievement wins top rankings

Greensboro-based Junior Achievement of Central North Carolina ranked first in student growth among Junior Achievement chapters throughout the U.S. for the 2014-15 academic year, according to data released by Junior Achievement USA.

The local chapter also ranked second in volunteer hours served, and fourth in class growth.

Driving the chapter’s top ranking was  expansion throughout Forsyth, Alamance, Rockingham, Randolph, Guilford and Montgomery counties.

Triangle Battle of Bands nets $1 million for nonprofits

Triangle Corporate Battle of the Bands, the annual fundraising event of ad agency McKinney for corporate musicians to raise money for a local charity, has netted $1 million in donated funds in its first nine years.

Since 2006, the effort has support nine nonprofits, including SeeSaw Studio; Communities In Schools of Durham; Center for Child & Family Health; Kidznotes; NC Arts in Action; East Durham Children’s Initiative; The Hill Center; Urban Ministries of Durham; and, this year, Book Harvest.

The 10th anniversary Triangle Corporate Battle of the Bands is scheduled for Sept. 17, 2016.

Donated hemophilia therapy shipped to developing world

The first shipments of hemophilia therapy have begun to arrive at treatment centers in the developing world through a partnership among Biogen, Swedish Orphan Biovitrum, or Sobi, and the World Federation of Hemophilia.

The donation will provide up to 500 million units of hemophilia therapy over five years to the Hemophilia Federation.

The initiative is the first phase of a 10-year commitment by Biogen, which has a facility in Research Triangle, and by the Swedish firm to produce 1 billion international units of hemophilia therapy for humanitarian use.

Pro bono awards to recognize lawyers, advocates

Council for Children’s Rights, Legal Services of Southern Piedmont, and Legal Aid of North Carolina-Charlotte will host their fourth annual Pro Bono Awards on October 20 to honor local attorneys and advocates who have donated their time and expertise to underserved children, families and individuals in legal crisis.

Winners to be honored at the event, which will be held at 5:30 p.m. in the Sonia and Isaac Luski Gallery at Foundation For The Carolinas at 220 North Tryon Street, include:

* Katherine S. Holliday of James, McElroy & Diehl — Distinguished Pro Bono Service Award, a lifetime achievement honor.

* Rolly L. Chambers of Smith, Currie & Hancock; John A. Fagg Jr. of Moore & Van Allen PLLC); and Jodie Hermann Lawson of McGuireWoods — Outstanding Pro Bono Service.

* Mary Schilli — Outstanding Volunteer Service Award.

* Horack Talley and Moore & Van Allen — Outstanding Firm Service Award.

* Pro-bono participants of the Safe Child Immigrant Project at Legal Services of Southern Piedmont — Outstanding Collaboration Service Award.

Winston-Salem Foundation awards $452,000 and scholarships

The Winston-Salem Foundation awarded 22 community grants totaling $451,810 to organizations serving Forsyth County in the areas of animal welfare, arts and culture, community and economic development, education, environment, health, human services, public interest, and recreation.

The Foundation also named three recipients each of the 2016 Dean Prim Scholarship, which offers a summer travel program to China and a college scholarship of $1,500 a year for four years, and the American Institute for Foreign Studies Scholarship, a travel scholarship for China study.

ArtsGreensboro launches grants program

Greensboro-based nonprofit arts organizations are invited to submit letters of interest to ArtsGreensboro funding through its pilot Arts Innovation grants program.

Supported by the Joseph M. Bryan Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, the program will provide a total of $50,000 to fund grants ranging from $5,000 to $10,000.

Groups receiving grants must provide a dollar-for-dollar match for the grants, which are designed to help arts nonprofits engage new audiences.

Impact Alamance gives $82,530

Impact Alamance awarded the Town of Green Level $82,530 to improve access to physical activity for nearby residents.

The funding will be used to build a new basketball court and a family outdoor fitness equipment area.

Two join board of Early Childhood Foundation

Geraldine Dawson, director of the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development, and Heather Graham, principal at Education First, have been appointed to the board of directors of the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation.

United Arts Council to hold dinner event

On November 5-7, United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County will host its annual “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” event.

The event will include 11 individual dinners November 5 and 6 in private homes or other venues, each with a featured artist.

The event also will include The Art of Celebration on November 7 featuring 25 mystery artists at a 200-person dinner at CAM Raleigh.

 HorseFriends to mark 10 years

HorseFriends, a therapeutic horseback riding program in Reidsville serving individuals with special needs, will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a Fall Fun Show and Costume Contest on October 24.

The event, which starts at 9 a.m., will be held at Flintrock Farm, Route 158, 221 Flintrock Trail, in Reidsville.

Better Business Bureau honored

The Better Business Bureau of Southern Piedmont has received the 2015 National Outstanding Operations Award from The Council of Better Business Bureaus.

The Charlotte-based group won top honors in the large-sized category of Better Business Bureaus with over 4,000 accredited business members.

The organization previously won the National Outstanding Operations Award in 2012 and 2014.

Salvation Army gets coats from motorcycle club

The Salvation Army of Wake County has received a donation of coats collected by the Ruff Ryders Raleigh motorcycle club.

The Salvation Army collects and distributes over 7,000 coats each season.

Arts Council awards mini-grants

The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County seven community enrichment mini-grants totaling $3,500 to community groups and individuals.

The grants are designed to spread the arts throughout the community, promote creativity, provide greater access to the arts and bring people together. 

Nominations open for business support of arts awards

United Arts Council of Raleigh & Wake County is accepting nominations through November 16 for the 2016 Business Support of the Arts Awards.

The awards, co-sponsored by The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce are presented each year to businesses, organizations, and individuals that promote the arts and humanities in Wake County in a significant way.

The 2016 awards will be presented in January at the 5th annual State of Arts and Culture in Wake County event.

Applications available for regional artist grants

ArtsGreensboro is accepting applications through November 16 for the 2016 Regional Artist Grant program, which ArtsGreensboro administers on behalf of a consortium that includes Alamance, Caswell, Guilford, Randolph, and Rockingham counties.

In 2015, 12 artists received a total of $18,000 in grants from this program, which aims to foster relationships between regional arts councils and networking among artists across counties.

Funding for this program is provided by the North Carolina Arts Council and matched by participating Arts Councils in the five counties.

Show the value of planned giving

Planned gifts can make a big difference for charities by providing a long-term source of critical support.

So charities should invest the time and effort to tell the story of why those gifts matter, how they are created, and their impact on the people they serve, their communities and their donors.

Planned gifts often are deferred or involve complex transactions and assets such as businesses, real estate or securities. They often support endowments. And in addition to advancing causes they care deeply about by donating significant assets, donors often structure their planned gifts to meet both current and future personal and family needs.

While planned gifts can be complicated, it is essential to tell their story simply and show their value to donors and to advancing their causes.

So invest the time to create profiles of donors who make planned gifts. What were the donor’s charitable and personal goals? What life event may have created the opportunity to make the gift? What assets did the donor use? How did the donor structure the gift? What role, if any, did the donor’s professional advisers play? How did the charity work with the donor and adviser? What difference did the gift make for the charity, the people and community it serves, the donor, and the donor’s family?

Then share those stories on your website and in your fundraising materials.

Investing in a gift-planning program can generate significant gifts that can change the way a charity operates and the difference it makes in the lives of the people it serves, clients and donors alike.

So tell the stories of the planned gifts your charity receives so donors can see the value they will add to their communities and the causes they care about, and in their own lives.

Want professional help?

Philanthropy North Carolina is a consulting practice that provides writing and strategic communications support for nonprofits, foundations, colleges and universities, and others working for social good.

To find out more about hiring Philanthropy North Carolina to work with your organization to improve your communications, contact Todd Cohen at 919.272.2051 or

Catholic Charities focuses on the poor

By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — Every Saturday and Sunday at the Oak City Outreach Center just off Moore Square in downtown Raleigh, volunteers feed four meals a day to a total of 875 homeless people.

Coordinating 40 to 45 volunteer groups that take turns preparing and serving meals at the Center, which is housed in the city-owned former Salvation Army warehouse, is Catholic Charities, an arm of the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh.

Catholic Charities traces its history to 1898, when a Catholic orphanage was established on the Nazareth property in western Raleigh that will be home to a new cathedral the Diocese is building.

The agency serves 54 counties in the eastern half of state — a region in which one in five children grows up in a household that is poor. Working to address the needs of the poor not met by other agencies, it provides 65,000 to 70,000 people a year with emergency assistance, programs aimed at reducing poverty, and clinical mental health services.

“We are Catholic and because of our faith we serve people who come in the door, regardless of their faith, and in a way that tries to meet the need they present to us,” says Gary Skinner, executive director of Catholic Charities.

At Oak City Outreach Center, the agency coordinates volunteer groups on behalf of the Center’s two of other partners, including the Raleigh/Wake Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness and the City of Raleigh.

Now, the Partnership, the city and Wake County have selected Catholic Charities to be the operating partner in developing a new Oak City Center, which will offer multiple services for the county’s homeless population.

To be developed in two to three years and financed with private and public dollars, the new center will serve as a one-stop shop to refer homeless people in Raleigh to health and human services they need, and as a central repository of data on services to the homeless.

Catholic Charities will work with the community and the three partners to develop an integrated system of services to the homeless population

The center might provide “consolidated-intake” services, for example, as well as showers and laundry facilities, Skinner says.

Catholic Charities operates with an annual budget of $5 million, 54 employees, and 450 to 500 regular volunteers, and counts on the Diocese for just over a fifth of its budget, eclipsing all but four other Catholic Charities organizations in the U.S. in the share of its funds it gets from its Diocese.

It also receives funds from foundations; five local United Ways, including United Way of the Greater Triangle; individual donations; contributions from local parishes and other giving; events that include an annual gala that this spring raised $176,000 and next will be held in October 2016; investment income; and fundraising by local offices in Catholic Charities’ eight regions.

Annual donations to Catholic Parish Outreach, a food pantry in Raleigh that is the largest in the state, for example, totals about $530,000, or three-fourths of its annual budget.

And the Stewardship and Advancement Office for the Diocese provides Catholic Charities with support for generating planned gifts. In the past year alone, Catholic Charities received two bequests totaling $900,000.

In each region it serves, Catholic Charities designs it services to meet local unmet needs, Skinner says.

Depending on the region, emergency assistance might include food or financial assistance for utilities, medicine or transportation. Poverty-reduction programs include employment support, resume writing, interview preparation, and access to health insurance and health care. And clinical mental health counseling, both in English and Spanish, works to help clients deal with issues ranging from anxiety and depression to managing stress, recovering from trauma, and coping with problems in marriage.

Together, the region that includes Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and Burlington, accounts for nearly half of Catholic Charities’ work.

In Durham, Catholic Charities provides about $100,000 a year in financial assistance to about 500 families. In New Bern, it provides $70,000 worth of vouchers to about 130 seniors who cannot afford to pay for prescriptions and used the vouchers to buy medicine worth about $260,000.

Catholic Charities provides immigration services in Raleigh, Greenville and Wilmington and, by the start of 2016, will expand those services to Burlington, Fayetteville and Goldsboro. Those services focus on helping immigrants become citizens, get work permits and, if they are victims of a violent crime or human trafficking, obtain visas for which they are eligible that are needed to help protect them from further harm and enable them to assist in apprehending the perpetrators.

Those services focus on helping immigrants become citizens, get work permits and, if they are victims of a violent crime or human trafficking, obtain visas for which they are eligible. Visas involve immigrants with police, enabling them to assist in apprehending perpetrators of a crime.

Catholic Parish Outreach, a food pantry that is Catholic Charities’ single biggest program, in its most recent fiscal year distributed $3.5 million worth of food to 48,000 people, mainly in Wake, Johnston and Franklin counties.

The program receives donated food and buys food from the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina and the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, among its other suppliers. It also receives food from drives every Catholic parish in Wake County holds each month.

Individuals may visit the food pantry once a month to get a week’s worth of food, typically driven by the uncertainty of living on the edge in a tough economy.

“Catholic Charities provides people with food and other assistance to meet their immediate needs,” Skinner says. “And we work to help them become economically self-sufficient.”

Nonprofit news roundup, 10.09.15

Triad philanthropists, fundraisers honored

William F. Womble of Winston-Salem, Fred andBarbara Wilson of High Point, and Eric and Susan Wiseman of Greensboro were named outstanding philanthropists, and Pamela Anglin of the Children’s Museum was named outstanding fundraising professional by the Triad Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

The awards will be among those presented by the chapter at its National Philanthropy Day Luncheon on November 9 at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro.

Keynote speaker at the event will be Elizabeth Carlock Phillips, executive director of the Phillips Foundation in Greensboro.

Other awards to be presented at the event, and the winners, are:

* Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser — Shelley Wheeler.

* Outstanding Business in Philanthropy –HighPointBank and State Employees Credit Union in Winston-Salem.

* Outstanding Philanthropic Organization –  Friends With Flowers in Greensboro and The Women’s Fund of Winston-Salem, a fund at The Winston-Salem Foundation.

* Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy — Troop 749 of the Boy Scouts of America.

* Lifetime Achievement Award — Priscilla McCall and the late Sam McCall.

* Outstanding Emerging Philanthropist — Amy and Overton Harper.

Family foundations seen lagging on social-justice funding

Foundations funded and led by wealthy families largely fail to support strategies that address the root causes of political, economic and social injustice, a new report says.

Between 2004 and 2012, only 9 percent of grant dollars from family foundations went toward social-justice strategies such as advocacy and grassroots organizing says “Families Funding Change: How Social Justice Giving Honors Our Roots and Empowers Communities,” a report from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.

In comparison, the report says, private foundations, community foundations and other types of grantmaking institutions gave 14 percent.

Previous research from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy found those strategies generate a return of $115 for communities for every dollar spent.

Meredith College gets $3.5 million

Meredith College in Raleigh has received a $3.5 million gift from the family of Raleigh developer Jud Ammons to renovate Johnson Hall and add new welcome center to the facility.  

The Jo Ellen Ammons Welcome Center, named for Ammons’ late wife, a Meredith alumna, will house admissions, financial assistance, registrar, and business office.

Nicklauses co-chair Greensboro events that raise $300,000

Golf legend Jack Nicklaus and his wife, Barbara Nicklaus, chaired a gala and the inaugural A. Darrell Harris Memorial Tournament at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro on September 28 and 29 that raised over $300,000 for Brenner Children’s Hospital in Winston-Salem, and for the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation.

Harris was founder of Furnitureland South.

$250,000 grant to support new recreation complex

The Friends of Graham Recreation and Parks has received a two-year, $250,000 grant from Impact Alamance to support development of its new regional Graham Recreation Complex off Jim Minor Road.

NewBridge Bank gives $111,000

NewBridge Bank in Greensboro will award $111,225 to the 24 Triad high schools that participated in the 2015 NewBridge Bank Invitational Jamboree.

Total giving from the event now exceeds $1 million since it was launched in 1999.

American Red Cross responds to flooding

The American Red Cross deployed disaster relief teams with emergency vehicles, food, water, and shelter and emergency supplies throughout the Carolinas a week ago and over the weekend in response to heavy rain and flooding.

The Red Cross had opened five shelters that were available as needed in Brunswick, Cumberland, Hyde, New Hanover and Pamlico counties in North Carolina, and also opened six emergency operation centers.

Lowes Foods donates water for South Carolina

Winston-Salem-based grocer Lowes Foods donated three truckloads containing 170,000 bottles of water to the South Carolina Emergency Management Disaster Receiving Center in Winnsboro, S.C., to  support relief efforts underway in the wake of the recent flooding across the state.

Arts Council gets $2.8 million

The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth Council received over $2.5 million to its Annual Fund in the fiscal year ended June 30, plus $300,000 in funds targeting new, impact-based initiatives, all from 4,250 supporters.

Habitat International CEO to speak at Wake Forest

Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International, will speak on Oct. 20 at 6 p.m. in Brendle Recital Hall in Scales Fine Arts Center at Wake Forest University.

The event, free and open to the public, is part of The Leadership Project, a leadership development program at Wake Forest.

Greensboro United Way to host ‘Trunk-or-Treat’

The Young Leaders group at United Way of Greater Greensboro will host its annual “Trunk-or-Treat” event on October 31 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the United Way office at 1500 Yanceyville St.

At the event, young Leaders and community volunteers decorate their trunks and fill them with candy and treats for children and families

In 2014, over 350 children and families participated in the event, which also gives families an opportunity to learn about community services supported by United Way.

JDRF to hold walk event in Raleigh

The Triangle/Eastern North Carolina chapter of JDRF will hold its annual One Walk event on October 24 at Walnut Creek Amphitheatre at 3801 Rock Quarry Rd.

Five thousand walkers are expected to participate in the event, which aims to raise $853,000 to fund research for children, adults and families affected by type 1 diabetes.

In 2014, 200 JDRF walks throughout the U.S. raised over $60 million.

Benevolence Farm gets $15,500

Benevolence Farm in Alamance County has received a $15,500 grant from Impact Alamance in Burlington

The grant will enable Benevolence Farm to buy a tractor and tools to substantially increase fruit and vegetable production. 

Benevolence Farm will provide jobs and transitional living for up to two years to women leaving prison.

Event to benefit Different Roads Home

The Jeanne White-Ginder Food Pantry at Different Roads Home in Charlotte will benefit from the 6th Annual Evening of Hope and Inspiration, to be held November 21 at the Booth Playhouse at 7:30 p.m.

At the event, Different Roads Home will present its Humanitarian of the year award Pastor John Pavlovitz.

Greensboro Realtors help repair home

Members of the Greensboro Regional Realtors Association are volunteering two days this week to give home repairs to a Greensboro homeowner for the 7th Annual Realtors Rebuilding project with Community Housing Solutions.

Band Together names board members

Band Together in Raleigh has named new members to its board of directors and advisory board.

Joining the board of directors are Doug Miskew of Public Sector Group; Kim Phillips of U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management; and Henry Ward of Loden Properties.

Joining the advisory board are Robin Anders of NAI Carolantic Realty; Daniel Baum of Troutman Sanders; Matthew Cooke of Davis Moore; Chuck ReCorr of Merrill Lynch; Joan Seifert Rose of theCouncil for Economic Development; and Jonathan Taylor of Paragon Bank.

Explain your nonprofit’s work and impact

A great way for your nonprofit to engage donors, volunteers and other partners is to make it easy for them to understand what you do, how you do it, and the difference you make for the people and places you serve.

Despite what your website or printed materials may say about your organization, or its legacy in the community, never assume that people know much about your work or truly understand exactly what you do, why you do it, and your impact.

So make it clear.

Explain the community need you address, and how it affects people. Describe the services you provide, how and why they work, and the lives they help change. Talk about the partners and supporters you count on. And show people how they can get involved.

Keep your story short, and use words anyone can understand. Avoid the technical terms, jargon and acronyms your peers favor but that can turn off people who simply want to find out about your nonprofit.

Make it easy for people to understand the problems in your community, and their causes, however complex, the value you add to the lives of the people you serve.

Making your story human makes it easier for people to understand and want to help.

You also should develop talking points that tell your story quickly. And train your board and staff to use those talking points whenever they have an opportunity to talk about your organization.

To help advance the work of your nonprofit, make your story sing, and always be telling it.

Want professional help?

Philanthropy North Carolina is a consulting practice that provides writing and strategic communications support for nonprofits, foundations, colleges and universities, and others working for social good.

To find out more about hiring Philanthropy North Carolina to work with your organization to improve your communications, contact Todd Cohen at 919.272.2051 or

Business seen as key driver in ‘collective’ fix for local schools

Business can play a leading role in shaping and advancing local collaborative efforts to better prepare children in poverty to thrive in school and life, a new report says.

The report looks at 145 communities in which business, government, nonprofits, public schools, parent groups and religious organizations coordinate their work through a strategy known as “collective impact.”

In those communities surveyed in which students have shown progress, business leaders and employees have been instrumental, says Business Aligning for Students: The Promise of Collective Impact, a report from Harvard Business School.

Business frustration

U.S. businesses contribute billions of dollars and countless volunteer hours every year to public education, says the report, which is based on interviews with 70 business and collective-impact leaders, and on the first national survey of leaders and business participants in collective-impact initiatives.

“Yet business leaders are often frustrated by the slow progress in improving outcomes,” it says.

‘Delivery chaos’

Much of business support for education targets nonprofits that serve students outside the classroom, and each supported nonprofit typically addresses only a single piece of a complicated educational “ecosystem,” the report says.

“The nonprofits seldom collaborate with each other, rarely share common goals, and measure outcomes inconsistently,” it says. “The result is service delivery chaos: Some services are duplicated, others are missed, and great providers do not displace poor ones.”

The process and structure of collective impact, however, can “shift the service delivery system from chaos to coherence,” it says.

While the strategy differs in each community, it brings schools, nonprofits, government, parent groups, businesses,  and religious groups together, keeps them working together, and focuses on developing common goals for students, improving the quality and coverage of services, identifying best practices, and measuring results, the report says.

Kids in poverty

Nearly 12 million students are likely to  drop out of school over the next 10 years, and will cost the U.S. $1.5 trillion in lost income, according to estimates from the Alliance for Excellent Education, the report says.

Over the past 30 years, despite pockets of progress, an achievement gap among racial groups in the U.S. has persisted, and it has narrowed at a snail’s pace.

In 1982, black students scored 34 points below their white counterparts on the math portion of the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Three decades later, the gap still was 28 points.

And between 1994 and 2013, the number of U.S. public-school students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch grew to more than half of all students from a third.

“Many impoverished students begin kindergarten with a deficit that often cannot be overcome during their lives,” the report says.

Dysfunctional system

Despite an infusion of resources over the years, the system for delivering services to meet the needs of young people affected by poverty has shown little change, the report says

“Most government programs and nonprofit organizations operate in isolation and have little or no outcome data available to prove effectiveness or to compare one programs’s results to those of another,” it says.

That lack of data, it says, “makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for business leaders and others to know how to allocate their resources efficiently.”

Most communities, the report says, suffer from  “an overabundance of nonprofit service providers,” and may have multiple programs to address a single need, but none to address other needs.

In 2013 alone, it says, over 89,000 nonprofits — up 7 percent from a year earlier — provided services to young people “from cradle to career.”

Throughout the U.S., the report says, too many government programs and nonprofits work independently, with “few if any shared goals,” as well as “service redundancies existing alongside service gaps, and inadequate means to measure effectiveness.”

Collective impact

Dating from the early 2000s, the strategy of collective impact “fundamentally changes the way essential services are delivered to young people living in poverty,” the report says.

Applying the strategy to education, it says, the “rate of educational improvement will accelerate, particularly for students living in poverty, if the numerous service providers in a community delivering programs from ‘cradle to career’ work together and in partnership with the school district to align their activities around a set of agreed-upon goals, use metrics to make decisions and determine progress, and identify and implement best practices.”

In greater Cincinnati, the report says, leading business executives concerned about the lack of improvement in public schools helped launch one of the first collective-impact initiatives eight years ago, and still are active in leading it.

As a result of that community-wide effort, the number of children ready for kindergarten is up 13 percentage points; reading proficiency in 4th grade is up 21 percentage points; 8th-grade math proficiency has improved 24 percentage points; high school graduation rates are up 14 percentage points; and post-secondary enrollment has grown 11 percentage points.

Changing the ecosystem

Collective impact is an “innovative process that provides a clearly articulated structure for achieving educational ecosystem change,” the report says.

The strategy provides “a powerful mechanism for coordinating and improving programs outside the classroom,” and “helps the changes in teaching and curriculum occurring inside the classroom realize their full potential.”

Collective impact “could be the game changer we have sought for so long in American public education,” the report says.

But the strategy is “not an easy or quick fix,” it says.

“If transformation of the education ecosystem is the key to sustained improvement in education outcomes — and we believe it is — then Collective Impact is a good bet,” the report says. “It may succeed in some places without business being involved, but we have learned that if the business community lends its support and expertise, the odds of success are greatly enhanced.”

Authors of the report are Allen S. Grossman, a senior fellow and retired professor of management practice at Harvard Business School, and Ann  B. Lombard, a senior researcher for the U.S. Competitiveness Project.

Todd Cohen