Researchers conducted comparative case studies of eight collective impact education initiatives between 2015 and 2017. They conducted over 290 interviews and observations and gathered extensive documentation on the initiatives.
It takes a village to improve U.S. educational outcomes. More specifically, experts point to cross-sector collaborations, partnerships that can involve government, schools, business, universities, foundations, and nonprofits. Through this “collective impact”, a term coined in 2011, multiple parties team up to address issues too complex for one institution to solve on its own.
But does it work?
With that question in mind, Wallace commissioned Teachers College at Columbia University to produce a three-pronged study. This report is the third and final in the series. It presents the findings of research into eight collaborations from 2015 to 2017. The goal: To learn about how communities created and developed their initiatives.
Researchers did an in-depth study of three collaborations. They included Say Yes Buffalo, Milwaukee Succeeds, and All Hands Raised in Multnomah County, Ore. In addition, the research took a more limited look at five other initiatives. They were Alignment Nashville, Chatham-Savannah Youth Futures Authority, Northside Achievement Zone in Minneapolis, Oakland Community Schools, and Providence Children and Youth Cabinet.
The research revealed findings about important features, experiences, and challenges, including:
The primary goal of the research wasn’t to evaluate outcomes. Researchers also suggested that the collaborations and networks required a longer period of time to show improved results.
At the same time, they concluded that the partnerships showed great potential for improving educational outcomes. “Most of the collaborations we studied seem to have helped calm often-contentious urban education politics and establish enough stability for partners to move forward,” they write.
Our research represents an attempt to lay the groundwork for a broad enterprise of additional research still to come.
How successful were the initiatives ultimately?
How did the collaborations evolve?