“All In for Youth” is a Calgary-based initiative and partnership focused on school completion. Facilitated by the United Way of Calgary, the five-year collective action initiative aims to reduce the high school dropout rate in Calgary by 50% by 2017 and to prototype a new way of working to drive social change. This exciting but complex cross-sector partnership was established with the intention that it would end in its current form in June 2017. This date was established at the outset of the initiative and was not tied to the achievement of the vision for the initiative. As “All In For Youth” (AIFY) neared its fourth full year of operation, the United Way of Calgary and the partners engaged JS Daw & Associates to assist with the process of developing a transition plan.
“All In For Youth” initiative had already resulted in strong outcomes and impacts and the partners have developed a great sense ofaccomplishment and pride. It is this value that is driving the desire to sustain and leverage what has been accomplished in order to reinforce and deepen results.
Co-creating and co-managing a collective action partnership can be tenuous, ambiguous and uncomfortable at times, however it’s those circumstances that contribute the power and growth necessary to strength, scale and sustain the outcomes achieved.
Partnering is about sharing (not mitigating) risk, about co-creating (not dictating) actions and solutions and co-managing the implementation of the work.
Managing the transition phase requires the same degree of care and attention as there was in building and managing the initiative and partnerships.
The transition phase is an opportunity to strengthen the initiative by redefining and reprioritizing outcomes, and objectives for the next stage of this collective action project.
Partnering is a highly collaborative, non-traditional approach to what often are intractable problems. It’s this nonconventional approach that offers the possibility of something original and even transformational.
The community and funders see evidence of a new strategic approach to social change.
New champions and advocates of partnership work exist within the community.
Trust, goodwill and equity have been established with project partners.
There has been a lot of learning about high school completion and what is needed for success.
The results, many originally unintended and/or intangible, are new assets for the community.
The collective action initiative of AIFY is not only facilitating sustainable advances for youth but also has the potential to influence systems change. The programs, the process and the partnership have activated new ways of thinking and working.