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January 23, 2014 in Collective Impact, Event, Homelessness, Poverty

Statewide Partnership for Good

by Ellie Krug, Call for Justice

National United Way 2-1-1

“In America the recession is over, and U.S. corporations and Wall Street are doing better than ever. Yet 46% of this country is living in poverty, or near poverty, and today we have the highest number of poor since we began keeping records…” –Harry & Joe Gantz (producers of AMERICAN WINTER)

In a society with declining safety nets and cuts to social services programs, many people—honest, hard-working people—are falling through the cracks. Whether it’s the sudden loss of a job, the absence of a partner, or the unanticipated medical emergency, there are those who find themselves unexpectedly in need of help, with no direction to go.

So what do they do? They call United Way 2-1-1. Read the rest of this entry →

United Way Action Day

July 30, 2013 in Collective Impact, Event, Volunteering

Enjoy a Day of Fun, Service & Community

Action Day logo

In the greater Twin Cities area, more than 116,000 children live in poverty. These children live in families that are barely able to afford basic needs much less school supplies. The goal of this campaign is to raise donations, both monetary and physical, for much needed school supply items to make a difference in a child’s life by giving them a great start to the school year.

The third annual Action Day Supply Drive & Volunteering activities include putting together snack-packs, laundry and dental kits, plus so much more that will benefit 15 United Way agencies. REGISTER

Can’t make it on Aug. 14, but still want to get involved? Donate now to our school supply drive. Or visit our booth in the Mall of America rotunda Aug. 10-14 to drop off an item to help a child learn. All school supplies will be donated to Project for Pride in Living and Keystone Community Services.

Presented by: Land O’Lakes
Event Sponsors: The Mosaic Company and Wells Fargo
Additional support by:, cmoto, Ecolab, Inc., Kellogg Company, LDI, Mall of America, Nemer Fieger and UPS


May 2, 2013 in Caregiving, Collective Impact, Conversation, Health

United Front is pleased to announce the launch of a new online caregiving community, CaregivingNOW, A Network on the Web for MN Caregivers. If you’re interested in joining or would like more information, please email Then meet some of the CaregivingNOW members who are sharing their stories and caregiving journies.

Are you a caregiver? Do you know someone who is caregiving? Join tpt’s Next Avenue Experience to get information and real resources that will help you in your caregiving journey. Hear from experts and get support from organizations providing caregiving resources in Minnesota, such as the Wilder Foundation, Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota-North Dakota, Minnesota Board on Aging, Living At Home Network/Block Nurse Program, along with others.

The Science and Humanity of Caregiving
Saturday, May 11, 2013 from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM


MPR’s Daily Circuit: The State of Nonprofits in MN

April 2, 2013 in Collective Impact, Event

Steve Rothschild, Sarah Caruso and Trista Harris after the show

Imagine sitting around a table of your peers—fellow community leaders—and engaging in a lively discussion about ways to improve something near and dear to your heart?

United Way President and CEO Sarah Caruso was given that opportunity when she joined Headwaters Foundation for Justice Executive Director Trista Harris and Twin Cities Rise Founder and author Steve Rothschild, at the Minnesota Public Radio studios for a roundtable discussion. Read the rest of this entry →

November Joint Annual Conference

October 11, 2012 in Collective Impact, Event, Uncategorized

DATE: November 1 & 2
LOCATION: St. Paul RiverCentre



Join us for mold-breaking plenaries, interactive breakouts, and productive dialogues, where we’ll learn how to harness the power of our differences and truly work together toward a greater good. From the opening session through the final reception, we’ll build upon our collective desire for action. LEARN MORE

Frank Forsberg

Featured Breakout Session
Nonprofit Realignments for Community Results: Engaging Philanthropic and Nonprofit Leadership for a Strong Nonprofit Sector

Judy Alnes, executive director, MAP for Nonprofits; Frank Forsberg, senior vice president, systems change and innovation, Greater Twin Cities United Way; and Greg Owen, senior research manager, Wilder Research

Greater Twin Cities Leads Session Exploring Mergers

April 26, 2012 in Collective Impact, Events

Public sector funding is shrinking and more cuts are anticipated even as demand for services is near an all-time high. Greater Twin Cities United Way believes this is a recipe for an unsustainable system of health and human services in Minnesota – and quite likely the nation.

When the economy was strong, the nonprofit sector experienced unprecedented growth. Now, in the midst of a long term economic downturn and prolonged recovery, the nonprofit sector will contract.

United Way’s role is to provide leadership in strengthening the nonprofit sector through mergers, acquisitions, dissolutions, and similar proactive steps. We have a long-term commitment to a strong and viable nonprofit sector – helping the sector reorganize, and even reduce in size, is the best strategy to help the sector remain strong and vital.

Download Mergers as a Means of Creating Sustainable Change: United Way’s Role (PDF)

Presenters: Frank Forsberg, SVP, Greater Twin Cities United Way and
Judy Alnes, Executive Director, MAP for Nonprofits

Reflections on The Nature of Innovation

April 5, 2012 in Collective Impact

Jed Emerson, Executive Vice President, ImpactAssets
Reposted from REDF (also known as The Roberts Enterprise Development Fund)

It would seem “innovation” is the “it” word of the day!

We have innovation funds, summits and workbooks. We have awards for social innovators and the assumption that without innovation there is no forward movement, no radical insight, no champion of change. In truth, innovation is critical to the advancement of our society, organizations and each of us. But the challenge of embracing a call to innovation is that we must first understand what truly is innovative as opposed to simply old toys in shiny new boxes; the challenge of innovation is cultivating our ability to discern the wheat of heralded innovation from the simple chaff of latest enthusiasms.

There are at least two rules to maintaining our enthusiasm for innovation while restraining our inclination to over-sell or lose track of the ultimate goal (which is, of course, not simply innovation for its own sake, but innovation for the sake of moving us closer to the goals of sustainability, impact and justice…). The first rule is a fairly simple one: Know What You Don’t Know. This would seem, of course, to be a fairly fundamental truism, yet in today’s arenas of social entrepreneurship, venture philanthropy, impact investing, effectiveness measurement and so on, one is often struck by the number of supposed “innovations” which are not actually innovations as much as iterations around established themes.

To truly understand what is “new” one must have a historical perspective of past and current practices and only then may one be able to assess one’s thoughts, proposals and practices as to their relative innovation. This might be seen as obvious, yet in the past 20 years of working to advance “new” thinking and practice, I’ve been struck by how easy it is to be truly ignorant with regard to what exists. Indeed, I’m not afraid to say there have been moments in my life when I’ve been truly ignorant; not stupid mind you (that is for another essay!), but simply ignorant of the true state of knowledge or practice and thus deceived into thinking my “innovations” were unique or insightful. Read the rest of this entry →

Heard in Talking About Collective Impact

March 5, 2012 in Collective Impact, Conversation, Uncategorized

Mark Kramer

Jeff Edmondson

Thanks for joining United Front for an online conversation with Mark Kramer, FSG, and Jeff Edmondson, STRIVE. We hope the exchange between participants and experts provided you with more insights to further your understanding of Collective Impact and that you will join us for future conversations on United Front.

“Mark – I agree. There is increasing political will to support more collective initiatives. Locally, we have applied for Social Innovation Funds to take a model we know works (Hospital to Home) to a much larger scale. Hospital to Home programs target housing stability and supports to frequent users of expensive medical systems (who are homeless) in hopes of increasing their stability and finding a more cost-effective and sustainable health care home. I also think the Obama Administration’s focus on ending homelessness for veterans is a good example – brings together the VA, public housing authorities, HUD, and local homeless outreach and service providers. There has been a 12% reduction in homeless veterans nationwide and a 33% reduction of homeless veterans here in Minneapolis/Hennepin County.”
 Cathy ten Broeke, Minneapolis/Hennepin County Office to End Homelessness 

Download Mark and Jeff’s Collective Impact Q&A (PDF)
Channeling Change: Making Collective Impact Work Article by Fay Hanleybrown, John Kania, & Mark Kramer

Heard on United Front Now

February 29, 2012 in Collective Impact, Conversation, Uncategorized

Talking About Collective Impact

Conversation Topic: Transition Strategies/Models

What are some effective strategies or approaches for causing the sort of “mind shift” amongst partners; from isolated impact to collective impact?

Mark Kramer: Creating “urgency for change” or, in other words, a need for a collective impact approach to solving the complex problem at hand is one effective strategy. In some cases, a crisis might have broken out that convinces people of the need of an entirely need approach. There might be the potential for substantial funding that might entice people to work together. Conducting research and publicizing a report that captures media attention and highlights the severity of the problem is another way to create the necessary sense of urgency to persuade people to come together.

Another strategy includes bringing examples of successful examples that have used collective impact to address similar issues. A strategy we use at FSG is a collective impact role play exercise where participants are split into groups of 7, each given a specific role in “education” within a community. For example, one participant might represent a community college president, another participant might represent a student parent, another participant might represent a superintendent, etc. All participants “have their own agenda” and goals but must work together to find common understanding on how to fix the education system in their community. Through these exercise participants are able to see how inter-related each of their problems are, and how a cross sector collaborative approach to addressing failing education across the community is needed.

Heard on United Front Now

February 28, 2012 in Collective Impact, Conversation, Uncategorized

Talking About Collective Impact

Conversation Topic: Collective Impact ROI

Nonprofits are being held accountable for developing and meeting specific, measurable outcomes, including (and especially) measuring return on investment for their individual programs. There is also a growing movement amongst public and even private funders towards a “pay for performance” model. What implications will this have on developing a collective set of metrics against which success of the collective effort will be measured? How might communities, particularly funders, reconcile conflicting interests?
Mark Kramer: I’m very enthusiastic about the pay for performance model – there are some serious challenges to financing services in advance of getting paid – especially when payment is contingent on results – but it certainly aligns the incentives in the right way if the financing can be managed. One of the interesting side-effects of pay for performance is that the ultimate result often depends on multiple organizations’ efforts, and so it naturally leads to a shared measurement system among multiple organizations that work toward a common definition of success. This again helps align everyone’s incentives behind the ultimate social outcome, rather than their individual organizational agendas.

It is quite true that different funders have different definitions of success – just as different grantees do – and so it is not easy to get agreement on a shared measurement system and single vision of success. But this is just a matter of patient and persistent facilitation. Ultimately, we have seen, time and again, that different funders and grantees can come to agreement on a set of shared measures that are perceived as fair by all participants. Often, it is a pretty basic set of measures: For example, we might argue at length about what a good education looks like, but we can usually agree that basic reading competence by third grade, and math competence in eighth grade, high school graduation, and similar milestones are key indicators of success. Often there is solid academic research to back up what key success factors are on a range of social problems and that can serve as a starting point. Each organization may still have other specific goals it strives to achieve above the common measures, but getting agreement on the basic measures is a huge step forward.