By Hermann Pereira
This concept of collective impact is something that was new to me when I got involved with Prosper Waco in 2017 as a working group leader. I would hear the term and while I never fully grasped how it works, I did understand its importance. The founders of Prosper Waco knew the theory of collective impact was vital to the future of our community. They were a part of many collaborative and coordinated efforts but they knew there was more that could be done. They introduced the collective impact model, and with it came a template as to how the community can work together on the largest issues facing our community.
As a former athlete and coach, I love the feeling of a team that is working together. It does not happen by chance nor by luck; the art of teamwork is crafted by hard work, persistence, and heart. It is not easy, but when it comes together, you are able to achieve more than you imagined. I am a sucker for sports movies, so if you want to see what building a team is all about, watch Remember the Titans, Miracle, or Friday Night Lights.
Now as a staff member at Prosper Waco, the theory of collective impact is our north star. It informs and guides our work as we intersect with community partners in health, education and financial security. It is not something that is prescribed, and it doesn't work every time in every scenario, but we have kept this at the center of our work since our inception and we continue to refine that today. A major takeaway for our team here at Prosper Waco is that by keeping collective impact as our guiding principle, it forces us to understand our partners in a more meaningful way. We listen and try to understand what our community partners are working on and are trying to accomplish. That understanding and empathy gives us the insights to be a value-add in their work. Over the past couple of years, we have been compiling our community partners’ goals, strategic plans, and other foundational documents. In all of our three portfolios of work, we are constantly learning and aligning our efforts with our partners, as gleaned from those documents and from intentional and ongoing communication with partners. This type of effort will move us from coordinated effort to collective impact.
If you want to have a conversation about this and/or other topics about our community please feel free to reach out — firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hermann Pereira is chief program officer for Prosper Waco.