What We Do
The mission of the Prosper Waco initiative is to build an environment in which all members of our Waco community are able to measurably improve their education, health, and financial security.
Our Vision & Values
Prosper Waco is an innovative approach to community work that consolidates and builds upon the efforts of existing nonprofits and community leaders. Our vision is a Greater Waco in which all people and institutions work together for the common good. To do this, we use the Collective Impact model, which brings together key leaders and organizations in the areas of education, health, and financial security to comprehensively:
Identify and quantify challenges facing our community;
Articulate a shared vision;
Establish measurable goals;
Facilitate implementation of strategies to address each challenge;
Monitor progress against each goal;
Share data and resources necessary to accomplish our collective goals; and
Engage a broad spectrum of community partners (including recipients of services) in the design of its work.
The strategy is to raise awareness among all members of the community, focus alignment of mutually reinforcing activities for more effective outcomes, and increase levels of engagement of individuals and organizations to bring about measurable and sustainable change in citizens’ health, education, and financial security.
Our community has an expansive desire to be a place where all people have an opportunity to prosper. Large vision and big thinking are required in order for the varied sectors of Greater Waco to pursue common goals. And we move toward a large vision by paying attention to specifics. This calls for convening regularly, using effective mechanisms of response to emerging issues, and getting feedback immediately from community voices.
Promoting Systems Thinking
A community is made up of varied systems enabling individuals and organizations to work together for specific purposes. These systems are complex and interlocking. Responding effectively to community challenges requires understanding those systems and helping system leaders to work both within their system and with other systems.
Directing Collective Impact
Prosper Waco functions as a Collective Impact initiative, helping community leaders understand, communicate, and collaborate around community challenges. Out of this understanding, communicating, and collaborating, Prosper Waco helps the broader community develop and enact a vision of prospering that is adequate to the level of complexity of the systems that drive our collective life.
Building Community Capacity
When challenges exist, new or expanded systems capacity is required. Change is needed. There are emergency and chronic challenges. COVID-19 presented an emergency challenge. Poverty is an example of a chronic challenge. Both require understanding the situation through data and narratives. Both require communication among key city leaders. Both require collaboration across systems.
Together, we can improve Waco
Positive change in peoples’ lives is directly linked to improvement in education, health and financial security. These are three primary drivers of change toward prosperity. Both research and results-based best practices show us that improving the quality of life for all Waco residents requires looking beyond a single data point or a single sector to the interrelated nature of these three.
The city’s economy has continued to grow over the last few years including home sales, hotel revenue, retail spending, and employment according to the Greater Waco Economic Index. However, financial security for all Waco residents is still of concern. According to the 2018 ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) study, over 45% of McLennan County families struggle to afford basic living costs, such as health insurance, quality childcare, and reliable transportation. This income insecurity is a contributing factor to both the overall health and education levels of Waco area residents.
We also see disparate outcomes in many measures of health including obesity rates and access to care. Even life expectancy can vary more than 10 years from East Waco to West Waco.
Within McLennan County, 19 public school districts and eight charter schools strive to provide a high-quality education for children from early childhood through high school. Students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds are concentrated within eight school districts, each with more than 60% of students qualifying as economically disadvantaged: Waco ISD, Connally ISD, La Vega ISD, Bruceville-Eddy ISD, Gholson ISD, Mart ISD, McGregor ISD, and Moody ISD. Only 15% of economically disadvantaged students from McLennan County graduated from an institution of higher education in 2018.