One of Staten Island’s greatest assets has long been its willingness to come together and collaborate to address challenges. Recognizing this, the Foundation became an early supporter of the Collective Impact Framework as outlined by John Kania and Mark Kramer of the consulting firm, FSG, in their article “Collective Impact”, in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, 2011.

Collective Impact (CI) is a rigorous form of cross-sector collaboration that engages organizations and individuals across the public, private and nonprofit sectors to tackle problems that cannot be solved by any one organization or sector working alone. CI participants designate a Steering Committee, form workgroups, and work collaboratively to advance meaningful population-level change.

Typically, certain conditions are essential to achieve Collective Impact:

  • Common agenda: All participants have a shared vision for change including a common understanding of the problem and a joint approach to solving it through agreed upon actions.
  • Shared measurement: Collecting data and measuring results consistently across all participants ensures efforts remain aligned and participants hold each other accountable.
  • Mutually reinforcing activities: Participant activities must be differentiated while still being coordinated through a mutually reinforcing plan of action.
  • Continuous communication: Consistent and open communication is needed across the many players to build trust, assure mutual objectives, and appreciate common motivation.
  • Backbone support: Creating and managing collective impact requires a separate organization(s) with staff and a specific set of skills to serve as the backbone for the entire initiative and coordinate participating organizations and agencies.

These conditions are maximized when the following Principles of Practice are in place:

  • Design and implement the initiative with a priority placed on equity.
  • Include community members of the collaboration.
  • Recruit and co-create with cross-sector partners.
  • Use data to continuously learn, adapt, and improve.
  • Cultivate leaders with unique system leadership skills.
  • Focus on program and system strategies.
  • Build a culture that fosters relationships, trust, and respectacross participants.
  • Customize for local context.

The Foundation convened and provided seed funding for our first CI initiative in 2011, the Tackling Youth Substance Abuse initiative (TYSA) of the Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness.

Together, TYSA partners went on to achieve major results – for example, in the midst of the opioid crisis they introduced the overdose-reversing drug naloxone, which has saved hundreds of Staten Island lives. TYSA is now recognized nationally as an innovative public health initiative addressing high rates of youth alcohol and substance abuse and is supported at the federal, state, and city levels. Today, by tracking data and engaged in continuous learning and co-creating with partners, TYSA has expanded its mission to include behavioral health.

The Foundation continues to champion CI as a useful approach to community empowerment and problem-solving. We have been instrumental in supporting a number of CI initiatives to improve outcomes for Staten Islanders on a range of issues including:

  • Tackling Youth Substance Abuse
  • Staten Island Perinatal Network
  • Staten Island Alliance for North Shore Children and Families
  • Staten Island Child Wellness Initiative
  • Youth WINS Partnership
  • Equity Alliance of Staten Island

Going forward, The Staten Island Foundation will continue to support the goals of these initiatives.  We invite current and prospective grantees alike to consider how their work aligns with these initiatives and to have a conversation with us to explore how we might strengthen this work together.

To learn more about Collective Impact and the Foundation’s approach, see: