“Go fast, go alone; go far, go together”

As I continue on my journey as an education evangelist, I keep coming back to the this idea of collective impact and Stanford Social Innovation Review’s article from last winter on how collaboration among non-profits can lead to the long-term systemic results that we’ve been chasing for decades in various social sectors. The key lesson is that achieving collective impact not only requires shifting investment of time and money towards long-term goals, but more so a shift in non-profit and philanthropic culture to value and fund collaborative efforts, including the operational costs needed to establish conditions for effective collaboration.

The research team goes on to outline the five conditions of collective success:

  1. Common Agenda
  2. Shared Measurement Systems
  3. Mutually reinforcing activities
  4. Continuous communication
  5. Backbone support organizations

In thinking about the scale needed to reach all the students that need help now, this point resonated with me the most- “In the field of education, even the most highly respected nonprofits—such as the Harlem Children’s Zone, Teach for America, and the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP)—have taken decades to reach tens of thousands of children, a remarkable achievement that deserves praise, but one that is three orders of magnitude short of the tens of millions of U.S. children that need help.” Through a collective approach, do you think successful programs could scale more effectively and efficiently to reach kids who are in failing schools today?

Do you know if anyone in the Bay Area is trying out this approach? I’d love to hear from you and them!

Want to read more on this topic? Check out David Bornstein’s New York Times article (March 2011) on Collective Impact  titled, “The Power of Partnerships.”

Citation: The title of this post is an abbreviated version of Warren Buffet’s statement- “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

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