This past Monday, October 24th, five local Collective Impact initiatives presented their reports, detailing their highlights from their first-year of work. These initiatives represent a range of supports and activities, with the shared goal of strengthening our community’s resources around the needs of children and families. The initiatives range from supporting children’s development prenatally to adulthood, assuring children and families have access to healthy food, providing supportive housing and employment to people with disabilities, and job training and educational opportunities for people re-entering the work force. These initiatives are described in detail on the Community Foundation’s website.
There was a concerted effort by the Community Foundation of Tompkins County to bring people together to spur awareness and collaboration across projects; to learn from one another- what is working, what isn’t, and what themes would emerge. For example, in “Bringing Collective Impact Home to the People,” Phoebe Brown and Michelle Jones highlighted the importance of building relationships and trust, and that without these key factors, it is very hard to create any kind of change and to know what people really need. This often involves going to the same places (like Loaves and Fishes) and meeting with same people again and again. In “Reshaping the Local Food System,” Holly Payne described the critical need to support children and families nutritional needs in Tompkins County; 1300 + families are in chronic poverty, 40% of children in the district are eligible for free and reduced lunch. Relatedly, the “Cradle to Career” project is designed to support child development from prenatal forward. For the “Developing an Effective and Comprehensive Job Training Model,” Anise Hotchkiss, with the Fingerlakes Reuse Center, described the barriers such as incarceration, substance abuse and structural poverty issues that relate to unemployment, and the need for effective and appropriate job training programs to be established. “Challenge Workforce Solutions,” is working to ensure that people with disabilities have access and skills required for employment and one key point made was ensuring that young adult’s needs are assessed and addressed before graduating from high school so they can set their goals and aspirations in advance of navigating the workforce.
As I got to sit and watch these inspiring collective impact presentations, I couldn’t help but notice the themes that emerged across each of them. For one, they all take time to develop and become established. They all take immense effort and energy, and perhaps most importantly, they rest on the building of relationships. I also couldn’t help notice how they are all connected.
For more information about these collective impact projects, please visit the Community Foundation of Tompkins County at: