Communities know they need to collaborate since no organization acting alone can hope to “move the needle” on complex systemic issues. Groups in both urban and rural communities are collaborating in new ways, with new partners to address systemic problems such as structural racism, environmental justice, income inequality, gentrification and displacement, and chronic disease.
In our work, we see both the recognition that collaboration is essential and also a desire for greater understanding of what it takes to work effectively together across sectors, including what is means to have community and equity at the center and understanding that the best ideas and solutions often reside in the community itself.
In response, CCHE developed a collaborative model that is grounded in our 25 years of experience evaluating multi-sector collaborative multi-site, multi-sector initiatives, informed by existing research, frameworks, and approaches. We know that having a clear, consistent framework can help community members, foundations, and evaluators demystify what effective collaboration looks like, support continuous improvement, and identify the role collaboratives play in achieving system change.
The model includes six essential elements for effective collaboration and defines indicators of success for each element. This helps members learn about what’s working and opportunities for improvement as collaboration is evolving. While there are similarities with existing approaches, this model addresses some of the recognized limitations, namely building in an explicit focus on community and having equity at the heart of the work to inform how all the essential elements come into play.
We know that collaboration is dynamic and evolves over time. CCHE’s model can contribute to understanding strengths and opportunities regardless of the stage of a collaborative effort.
The essential elements of the model are:
To see the model in action, check out one of the following examples of how CCHE has used this model to evaluate and support collaboration across the country: