Like many of you, I grew up building with Legos — those varied-shaped blocks that could be used to construct something from our imaginations. Those Legos were unlike most of today’s Lego sets with their specific plans and pieces for producing one pre-planned product. The originals promoted creativity using available resources — blocks.
In my role as chief program officer with Prosper Waco, I get to use building blocks of a different sort. And, together with others in our community, we work to build creative solutions to our challenges in education, health, and financial security.
Prosper Waco’s collective impact process involves two phases — analysis and action.
In order to address challenges related to education, health, and financial security, Prosper Waco guides community partners in understanding the particular “landscape” in each area of concern.
Landscape Analysis makes obscure realities more visible. Data reveals part of the landscape, but discussion among engaged partners plays a role, as well. Landscape Analysis helps reveal gaps between what is and what is desired. Landscape Analysis also helps reveal which community partners may play a role in addressing those gaps.
Goal / Partner Alignment is an outgrowth of Landscape Analysis. Prosper Waco seeks to align their work with the key organizations related to specific challenges and to integrate the findings of key reports. This requires understanding of varied organizational goals to determine the stakeholders in any effort and how their goals intersect.
IDENTIFYING CHANGE AGENTS OCCURS AS GAPS ARE DISCOVERED AND PARTNERS ARE IDENTIFIED. PROSPER WACO ASKS: IS AN ORGANIZATION AVAILABLE AND WILLING TO ADDRESS A SPECIFIC GAP? WHEN AVAILABLE AND WILLING ORGANIZATIONS ARE IDENTIFIED, PW WORKS TO SUPPORT THEM AND/OR TO HELP THEM EXPAND THEIR SCOPE TO ADDRESS THE GAP. IF NO ORGANIZATION IS IDENTIFIED, PW WORKS TO INCUBATE A COMMUNITY RESPONSE. IT IS ALSO POSSIBLE THAT NO EXISTING PARTNER OR NEW EFFORT WILL BE IDENTIFIED TO FILL A GAP.
Support and Expand is the most often used action process. Prosper Waco supports existing organizations by consulting with leaders, convening related partners, starting new or strengthening existing working groups, and providing financial support as needed and available. Sometimes, Prosper Waco helps organizations expand their scope of work by consulting with leaders, convening partners, and providing financial support as needed and available.
Incubating New Efforts is a newer tool in the Prosper Waco toolbox. When there is no organization to address identified gaps, Prosper Waco pursues an incubation process that involves PW providing staff to support implementation of new projects for which there is community and financial support but not a sponsoring organization. The goal is to grow and launch projects that can eventually become free-standing organizations or become part of another existing organization. It is not PW’s goal to incubate services that would remain indefinitely with Prosper Waco.
The building blocks of our Prosper Waco process — analysis and action — are simple, much like the Legos I used to play with as a child. But these Prosper Waco blocks can be used by our community to build creative and effective responses to addressing gaps in education, health, and financial security.
Gaps show us the difference between what is and what is desired. All of us can pitch in together to close those gaps.
Hermann Pereira is chief program officer for Prosper Waco.