Sponsored by: Trident United Way
By: H. A. Fisher
Dozens of Charleston area organizations are dedicated to educating the next generation of community activists, employees and business leaders. With so many organizations all devoted to a similar cause, it’s easy to duplicate services and miss unmet needs.
That’s why Trident United Way has moved to a collective impact model to invest in local direct service organizations. Rather than simply providing financial assistance to nonprofits, Trident United Way is taking an active role in the work of the nonprofit community to bring like-minded organizations together to share and leverage best practices for greater community impact.
“We can harness the power of multiple nonprofits and organizations to effect bigger change,” said Christy Boudolf, vice president of marketing and communications.
The concept involves grouping together nonprofits that have a similar agenda and shared measurements. Trident United Way serves as the central support, managing the effort and continuously communicating with the various stakeholders, especially nonprofits and community members, Boudolf explained.
Trident United Way’s latest strategic plan is built around a mission of being the catalyst for measurable community transformation through collective impact in education, financial stability and health.
A perfect example of the collective impact model is in the area of kindergarten readiness. Trident United Way is the convening partner under the umbrella of the Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative (TCCC). Formed in 2012, this community wide initiative is tasked with improving educational outcomes for all children throughout the tri-county area.
TCCC’s first Regional Education Report found only 24 percent of kindergarteners were proficient in vocabulary and 40 percent were proficient in social and emotional development. Children, especially those who come from low-income families, who start school already behind have a tough time getting caught up.
Fred Jones, director of education innovation at Trident United Way, is spearheading the kindergarten readiness network, coordinating roughly 120 individuals representing the nonprofit, business and government sectors, including experts in early childhood development and education in crafting a strategy to ensure children are fully prepared for kindergarten. This includes starting with pregnant women to provide prenatal care, then making sure that children are developing not only physically but mentally so they are fully ready for kindergarten from day one, Jones explained.
“In terms of kindergarten readiness, we’re looking at it from a macro sense,” Jones said. “Across the tri-county how do we capture what’s going on currently and how do we make it better with all the partners who have a vested interest in improving kindergarten readiness.”
It will take some time for the full strategy to be complete, Jones said. But once it’s done, organizations can then figure out where they fit into that strategy and how they can contribute.
“Not one organization can do everything, but together we can do it all,” Jones said.