Prosper Waco is a collective impact initiative focused on addressing issues facing the Greater Waco community in the areas of Education, Health, and Financial Security. Collective impact is an approach to addressing complex social problems through a focused, collaborative effort that is facilitated and guided by a dedicated organization called a “backbone.” Prosper Waco has been guided by the work of FSG, a consulting firm focused on social impact that is leading the national collective impact movement. FSG’s pioneering work on collective impact outlines five conditions necessary for a successful collective impact effort: 1) Common Agenda; 2) Shared Measurements; 3) Mutually Reinforcing Activities; 4) Continuous Communication; and 5) Backbone Organization Support. See below for an illustration of how this initiative is built and more information about the roles that various stakeholders play:
Backbone: The Prosper Waco backbone organization is tasked with facilitating the overall initiative. Built on the infrastructure of the Greater Waco Community Education Alliance, the backbone was incorporated as Greater Waco Collective Impact Initiative (also called Prosper Waco), a 501c3 non-profit organization, to serve as the backbone organization for the larger Prosper Waco initiative. Like other non-profit organizations, the Prosper Waco backbone is led by a board of directors responsible for oversight of the organization. The backbone staff includes an executive director and other staff members responsible for guiding the collective impact initiative. The role of the backbone includes convening steering committees of community stakeholders in the areas of Education, Health, and Financial Security to develop a common agenda of measurable goals for the initiative’s work. The backbone also facilitates collaborative work toward the achievement of those goals. The shared measurements embedded in the initiative’s goals are evaluated by the backbone to determine whether the work of the initiative is succeeding. Throughout the process of developing goals, collaboratively pursuing those goals, and evaluating the outcomes of the initiative’s work, the backbone fosters continuous communication between the many partners involved in the work as well as with the broader community about all aspects of the initiative.
Steering Committees: The role of the Prosper Waco three steering committees (education, health and financial security) is to establish measurable goals to guide the work of the initiative, to work collaboratively with implementing partners to develop strategies for achieving these goals, and to recommend the most promising strategies to the Prosper Waco board for support and funding. The steering committees will review progress toward the goals with data provided by the Prosper Waco backbone and will assess and, as necessary, revise the initiative’s goals at least annually. The steering committees are comprised of individuals broadly representing the Greater Waco community. These include local elected officials, business and non-profit leaders, education (both K-12 and post-secondary) and healthcare professionals, and numerous community members who have committed to support the work of the initiative. To learn more about the work of the steering committees, visit our Data Dashboard page.
Implementing partners: The success of any collective impact initiative lies in the mutually reinforcing activities of implementing partners who align their work around common goals. These organizations use the initiative’s goals to drive their thinking about how they can leverage their resources and programs to help achieve the measurable outcomes articulated by the steering committees. In the areas of Education, Health, and Financial Security, implementing partners not only include the local school districts and charter schools, colleges and universities, hospitals, health centers, public health district, workforce and social services offices but also early childhood, daycare, after-school and scholarship programs, YMCA and community health programs, job skills training programs, city departments, businesses, churches, and a variety of non-profit and community development organizations. For a list of local organizations who have committed to engage in the Prosper Waco initiative and seek collaborative solutions for achieving the initiative’s goals, see the Affiliates page of our website. The Prosper Waco backbone convenes working groups of implementing partners to build collaborative strategies for achieving the measurable goals set by the steering committees. The backbone also supports the efforts of a number of coalitions of implementing partners who work on related issues such as the Mentor Coalition, Hunger Coalition, and Housing Coalition.
Community Members: Prosper Waco is an initiative of, by, and for the residents of Greater Waco. The initiative is built on the work of many community members who have contributed to such efforts as the Community Visioning Project, Greater Waco Community Education Alliance and Imagine Waco. Numerous community members participate in Prosper Waco as board members, steering committee members, coalition members and volunteers. But the initiative is also intended to serve the many community members who desire to measurably improve their education, health and financial security. For this to happen, a strong network of social relationships is required so that individuals are connected to the programs and services that develop from this initiative. It is also critical that those who are most in need of improved opportunities are able to contribute their perspective on the goals that are set within the initiative and the strategies that are used to achieve them. The strategies necessary to improve education, health and financial security in one Waco neighborhood may not be the same as those needed by citizens in other parts of our community. Community members from throughout the city must contribute to the efforts of the initiative if we are to achieve our goals. To facilitate this process, the Prosper Waco Community Engagement Council meets on a regular basis to develop strategies for making the initiative accessible to community members in the highest-need neighborhoods of Waco. The council ensures that every community member is able to contribute their knowledge and ideas to the initiative and benefit from the opportunities that arise out of the initiative. Community engagement council members host house meetings and community events to engage with community members and dialogue about how strategies would work best in their neighborhoods.