As our two-generation, collaborative work enters its next phase, we want to take a moment to share the promising early results from Collaboration Institute 3.0 and thank our generous supporters who made this work possible.

Collaboration Institute has been a five-year body of work at The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham where we have reimagined how we do grantmaking so that we can catalyze systems change that will disrupt the cycle of generational poverty in Alabama.

Because we have achieved great outcomes in bringing nonprofits together to serve whole families through short-term pilot projects, we wanted to figure out how to permanently embed collaboration into our region.

In 2017, we identified three place-based teams in Jefferson, Shelby, and Walker County comprised of local leaders from nonprofits, community colleges, child care centers, and employers.

Over the next 18 months, The Women’s Fund provided these collaborative teams with the strategies, tools, and expertise to help them realign and integrate their services to better serve low-income families, including:

  • Peer-learning workshops, led by the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group
  • $100,000 in start-up funding
  • Site visits to 2Gen models that work in Garrett County, Maryland and Newport, Kentucky
  • A local coach, with place-based knowledge and expertise
  • Technical assistance training in areas critical to collaboration
  • empowOR, a robust database to measure the success of the work

To signify that their work has moved past the design and planning phase, the teams wanted a common name, logo, and messaging to use across their county footprint. Thrive Together is the result of Collaboration Institute. Thrive Together is our region’s network of two-generation collaboratives providing seamless, wraparound services to women and their families.

Thrive Together is implementing what they’ve learned in incremental phases and will start by serving roughly 100 families in their first year.

Here are some of the collaboratives’ early successes:

Thrive Together Shelby County
University of Montevallo, City of Montevallo, City of Vincent, Jefferson State Community College

  • Created a leadership council representing 19 community partners invested in advancing families through the 2Gen approach
  • Created a family expertise council, composed of women from Shelby County who themselves have experienced poverty
  • Received a public investment from the Shelby County Commission

Thrive Together Jefferson County
East Lake Initiative, Hope Inspired Ministries, Serving You

  • Hired an intake coordinator, who is a former HIM program participant, to create one contact for families and reduce the burden of navigating the social service system
  • Co-located in one building, located on the bus line removing transportation as a barrier
  • Received a public investment from the City of Birmingham

Thrive Together Walker County
Bevill State Community College, Jasper Area Family Services, Walker County Board of Education

  • Hired a coach who will have offices on each partner’s campus
  • Implemented “Hopes and Dreams” curriculum to help families reach their goals

The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham is committed to providing continued financial and capacity supports through 2020 to the Thrive Together collaboratives. We are currently conducting an evaluation of the Collaboration Institute process using an outside national evaluator to determine what components of the work will be key for scaling and for replication. Then, we will take what we learn from the report to grow the work and to share our findings statewide to inspire others to join us in the work. That report will be available for your review in Spring 2019.

Thank you again for your commitment to building economic opportunities in our region and state.

Representatives from the Collaboration Institute 3.0 teams, TWFGB board and staff, and the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group at a convening in November 2018.

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