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United Front Webinar Series

October 21, 2011 in Collective Impact, Events, Uncategorized, United Front 2011, United Front Blog Archives

Leadership for Collective Impact
Friday, November 4; Noon – 1 p.m.
At United Front 2011, keynote speaker Mark Kramer discussed the power and importance of broad, cross-sector coordination to drive large-scale systems change. These collective impact initiatives require leaders at all levels to develop and use “21st century” leadership skills in their work. Webinar participants will explore the alignment between the trends in leadership and the adaptive skills required for collective action, and have a chance to participate in a simple self-assessment. You will leave the webinar with an awareness of 21st century leadership skills and ideas for how to further develop your own leadership. Download the presentation.

Critical Times – Critical Board Questions Webinar
Thursday, November 17;  Noon – 1 p.m.

If you missed the Critical Times – Critical Board Questions breakout at United Front 2011, no need to worry. A version of this session will be delivered via webinar by MAP’s director of strategic development services, Christie Hammes. This session is designed to help executive directors and board members frame the questions and discussions that can propel their organizations’ work. Participants will learn about practices and tools to create powerful boardroom conversations that can bring fresh understanding to complex situations. Download the presentation.


About the Facilitator
Christie Hammes, MAP‘s director of strategic development services has nurtured the development of organizations and their executives, board members, and other leaders as consultant, trainer, coach, and facilitator — first through her own consulting firm, The Milestone Group, and since 2000 as director of strategic development at MAP. From an earlier career in the corporate world to more recent work in nonprofits, government and business, Christie has honed her leadership and organization development skills from work in all three sectors.

Conversations to Navigate the Rough Road Ahead

October 13, 2011 in Events, Uncategorized, United Front 2011, United Front Blog Archives

A colleague of mine on the West Coast recently quipped that nonprofit boards of directors operate at “glacial” speed.” I knew what she was talking about. Many boards of directors (and their staff leaders) are stymied by how to make sense of the rapid changes in funding streams, client needs, and external factors that are threatening the very existence of many organizations. Many nonprofit board responses can be best described as “stalled out” or “deer in the headlights.”

Chait, Ryan, and Taylor created a framework that has helped boards of directors grapple with the toughest challenges of governance in a model they call “Governance as Leadership.” Their model puts forth that boards of directors operate in three essential modes:  fiduciary, strategic, and generative. They argue that boards spend most of their time in either the fiduciary or strategic mode and that neither of these modes is likely to yield the “sense-making” or fresh perspectives needed to grapple with the most daunting challenges of the day. And “sense-making” is truly what we need more of.

In the generative mode of governance, nonprofit boards are invited to reframe the questions that their organizations should be asking to reveal fresh approaches. Mark Kramer, the keynote speaker at United Front 2011, posed a timely and provocative generative question. He asked, “How would Steve Jobs reinvent the nonprofit sector?” Indeed, Chait argues that leaders exercise their greatest power by framing the issues that need to be addressed. A question thinly veiled in the Governance as Leadership model is “why do we relegate our finest thinkers – our board members – to a strict diet of binary choices fed to boards by well-intentioned staffs?”

This shift in thinking about the premier contributions of good governance requires a different kind of conversation in the boardroom – one that involves curiosity, different points of view, and disagreement.
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Forum Focuses on Combating Financial Insecurity in the Twin Cities

October 13, 2011 in Financial Fitness, Jobs & Training, Uncategorized, United Front Blog Archives

New Data Reveals that Communities of Color are
Disproportionately Affected by the Downturn

A forum exploring strategies for increasing financial security and opportunity in the Twin Cities and statewide. Speakers will include Mayor Chris Coleman, State Rep. Morrie Lanning, St. Paul City Council Member Melvin Carter, Minneapolis City Council Member John Quincy, Commerce Commissioner Michael Rothman, and other state officials and national experts.

When: 8:30 to 11:30 a.m., Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Northwest Area Foundation
60 Plato Blvd East, Suite 400
St. Paul, MN (click here for directions)

See press release

Asset Reports:
Assets & Opportunity Profile: Minneapolis
Assets & Opportunity Profile: Saint Paul
Assets and Opportunities in the Twin Cities and Across Minnesota Presentation

United Front 2011 Summary

October 11, 2011 in Collective Impact, Events, United Front 2011, United Front Blog Archives

Go to Conference Materials

United Front 2011 Summary

I had the opportunity to attend United Front 2011 this morning, focusing on Collective Impact. One of the more interesting parts of the morning session was the presentation by Jay Kiedrowski from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs over at the University of Minnesota. In a marvelously data-laden presentation, he made some startling (if sobering) key points.

  • The Minnesota elder population is increasing and it’s going to continue its dramatic increase as the Baby Boomers move into their senior years. By 2030, seniors (age 65+) will outnumber children (ages 5-17).
  • Minnesota has lower child poverty rates than the nation (14% compared to 20%), but from 2000 to 2009, poverty rates here increased much faster than they did nationally (56% increase locally vs. 18% increase nationally). This is a disturbing trend.
  • Home prices will continue their downward march until at least 2014. (Though I recently heard 2020 as a more realistic—or pessimistic—date.)
  • The proportion of income eaten up by healthcare costs increased from 7% in 1970 to about 17% today, and is expected to continue to increase (especially if incomes continue to go down!).
  • The resolution to the Minnesota budget deficit of $5 billion in this biennium was not a resolution but merely a stopgap measure based on borrowing and shifting monies around.

Thus was the stage set for the day.
Mark Kramer, collective impact guru, was the keynote speaker. Kramer is co-founder of FSG, a nonprofit consulting firm, and is also the author of a much-read article on collective impact in the winter 2011 issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

He focused on the need for government, corporations, and the nonprofit sector to align to solve problems. Moving to collective impact is a paradigmatic shift in how we address complex social problems (e.g., poverty, education, health care). It’s hard work but the rewards, when successful, are significant. Collective impact is more than collaboration (which in and of itself is not so simple!) and requires five conditions:

  • A common agenda with a shared vision and a single goal.
  • A shared measurement system.
  • Mutually reinforcing activities (different players may address different parts of the puzzle, but they fit into a cohesive whole).
  • Continuous communication (weekly, monthly, virtual and in person).
  • An organization that provides the backbone (infrastructure) of support to the initiative—coordinating the effort, developing and implementing measurement systems, driving the continuous communication, and reporting out.

This was followed by a panel focused on cross-sector innovation and redesign efforts. Cathy ten Broeke spoke about the Heading Home Hennepin initiative with the ultimate goal of ending homelessness in Hennepin County. Jonathan Sage-Martinson talked about the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative which is focused on supporting small businesses during and after the construction of the central corridor light rail line. Les Fujitake talked about the partnership the Bloomington School District is undertaking with Fairview Health Systems, Greater Twin Cities United Way, and the McKnight Foundation—an initiative focused on linking early childhood efforts with K-3 operations to close the achievement gap and improve graduation rates.

Bottom line: We have a lot of work ahead of us. But I left feeling optimistic. I think we can do it. Together, we can get Minnesota back on track and working for all of us!

Elizabeth A. Peterson, Ph.D., Contributor
Director of Research & Planning
Greater Twin Cities United Way

October 6, 2011 in Uncategorized, United Front Blog Archives

Thank You!

During these challenging times, United Front 2011 is hopeful that the model for collective impact presented at today’s event offers new insights, inspiration and ideas that will create an ongoing conversation in our community.

You can be a part of the conversation. Take a minute to register on United Front and begin exploring the potential of a collective impact through online conversations hosted here on this Website. You can also find presenters’ materials— general and breakout session video and Power Point presentations–posted  here on the site within the next couple of days.

Thank you and we look forward to seeing you here on United Front!

United Front 2011 Team

United Front 2011 LIVE Stream

September 28, 2011 in United Front Blog Archives


Click Here for LIVE Video Stream

Thursday, October 6 at 8:00 a.m. CST  St. Paul River Centre Main Ballroom

You may submit questions to presenters during the live stream at or use the Twitter hashtag #unitedfront2011.  Be sure to check back for a follow up Q&A after the event.

Streaming Schedule
8:00 – 8:15 a.m. Welcome
Sarah Caruso, CEO & President, Greater Twin Cities United Way

8:15 – 8:20 a.m.  Welcome/Introduce Jay Kiedrowski
Ellen Goldberg Luger, Executive Director, General Mills Foundation

8:20 – 8:40 a.m. What Do We Know?
Impact of 2011 Legislative Session & Economic Forecast— Jay Kiedrowski
Senior Fellow at HHH Institute, U of M

8:40 – 8:42 a.m. Sarah Introduces Mark Kramer

8:43 – 9:15 a.m. Keynote: Collective Impact:
A cross-sector framework for achieving large-scale social change

9:15 – 9:55 a.m. Cross-Sector Innovation and Redesign EffortsPanel
9:55 – 10:00 a.m. Closing Remarks

Be sure to check back for posting of all  materials from United Front 2011.Go to Conference Agenda and Breakout Sessions Details

Browser Requirements
Live streaming of United Front 2011 is provided by Alpha Video. If you are a Mac user, you will NOT be able to view in Safari. Please use Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox instead.

Technical Issues
Jody Kessner, 612-340-7574

Fighting for Our Children’s Future

September 15, 2011 in Uncategorized, United Front Blog Archives

Early childhood educators and those invested in improving early childhood education are engaged in a spirited discussion here on United Front about how a grant from the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge fund would benefit Minnesota’s children:

“I would like to see home visiting dollars being integrated into other programs such as School Readiness. If these programs had more access to these dollars, the amount and quality of family support could be greatly improved. This would allow for more creative programming so that families who do not fit into our “traditional” educational models can be involved in their children’s education (i.e., are unable to read, have had negative experiences within a “school” system, have basic needs that are not being met, are suffering from a mental health disorder, etc.). It would also allow educators to provide support to high-risk families and to become a family’s “secure-base” as they grow and develop parenting skills.” Trodee Jore (Early Childhood Family Education & School Readiness

“More study is needed to address the myriad issues integrated data systems raise, but the RTT can be the impetus to make real progress toward using technology and the large amount of information already collected toward improving outcomes for children and their families. Better integrating data also is important to an accountability system that focuses on the outcomes most important to educational and social services. A wide variety of stakeholders, including families, should be involved in the discussions.” Marcie Jefferys (Children’s Defense Fund MN)

Please visit the Minnesota Race to the Top Application page where we’ve posted the application criteria in an interactive format and use this opportunity to provide feedback and links to existing resources that address the specific criteria/policy areas/questions from the federal application.

Leadership for Collective Impact

September 15, 2011 in Uncategorized, United Front Blog Archives

Not long ago we were invited to work with an executive director and board members who were experiencing a clash.  The board’s proposed solution was to increase the amount of time it met in executive session. The executive director proposed to reduce his input to formal monthly reports. Needless to say, both proposals constituted one miserable formula for any mission achievement in that single organization.

So what can transpire when leaders from multiple organizations and multiple sectors come together to move the needle on a seemingly intractable social issue? What leadership characteristics support collective advancement? What characteristics stand in the way?

As committed as you may be to the five conditions required for successful collective impact (see Kania and Kramer’s Collective Impact), collective action also demands that the participants are equipped with an authentic desire to be curious, welcome different ideas and forge a common agenda that may require compromise. Leaders need to be willing to strive for jointly agreed upon measurable outcomes that will undoubtedly change their usual way of working. They will need to stay connected and in communication with collaborators including those with whom they disagree.

Over the past three years, MAP has studied what makes for successful leadership, resulting in this profile: The effective leader is one who mobilizes self and others to tackle tough challenges while keeping the societal issue at the center of the work. Such leadership rests on keen emotional intelligence including self-awareness, self-management, and relationship skills.  Studies have shown, in fact, that emotional intelligence is twice as important as IQ and technical skills combined as a predictor of leadership success. Leaders who are interested in producing collective impact will require all the skills named above. Sound too hard? The good news is that these skills can be developed and strengthened through intentional learning and practice.
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2010 Crime Victim Survey Released

September 15, 2011 in Domestic/Family Violence, Uncategorized, United Front Blog Archives

We recently completed the initial analysis of the 2010 Minnesota Crime Victim Survey and presented them at the United Against Violence Summit. The Crime Victim Survey is the result of a partnership between Greater Twin Cities United Way and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Justice Programs. This is the second time we’ve done the survey (the first was in 2007). Data was collected January-April of 2011, asking about experiences with crime in 2010. Using a mail survey methodology with a random sample of residents throughout Minnesota, we obtained a response rate of 60% (which is excellent for a mail survey and represents more than 6,000 completed surveys).

Crime Victim Survey Summary
Minnesota Department of Public Safety-Office of Justice Programs

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Race to the Top LIVE Stream

September 8, 2011 in Uncategorized, United Front Blog Archives

Join Us to Learn More About Minnesota’s Application

Friday, September 9 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. watch the LIVE streaming
Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge information session at TIES in St. Paul.

Watch the LIVE Stream

  1. Click on the link above (a new window will open)
  2. You should see the banner page for the event  –  click on the “play” arrow in the
    center of the banner
  3. After a short “buffering” experience the live stream will be shown
  4. To switch to full screen display, double click anywhere in the window (if using Adobe Flash)

Have a question while watching the presentation?
Email questions to or