Anne Kubisch and Patricia Auspos of the Aspen Institute’s Roundtable for Community Change engaged in a conversation with Mark Cabaj of Tamarack about vertical collaboration and collaboration across neighbourhoods.
On this page you’ll find:
Kubisch, co-director of the Roundtable, manages a variety of research
and leadership development programs aimed at improving policies and practices
that address the needs of poor communities. She works on topics such as
community economic development, racial equity, evaluation of antipoverty
programs, philanthropic practice, and the role of government, and has
authored many publications on those issues. Learn more about Anne here.
Patricia Auspos has been a Senior Associate at the Aspen
Institute Roundtable on Community Change since July 2000. She has worked
on various projects relating to evaluating and building knowledge about
Comprehensive Community Initiatives (CCIs), mapping pathways of community
change, understanding the value of civic capacity in community change
efforts, and distilling lessons about good practice. She is a co-author
of several publications about building knowledge around community change.
Before coming to the Roundtable, Pat researched and wrote about CCIs as
a consultant with several foundations. She was also a Senior Policy Associate
at the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC). She has a Ph.D.
in British History from Columbia University.
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on Community Change was established in 1992 as a forum in which people
could engage in Comprehensive Community Initiatives (CCIs). It serves
as a place where people can meet to discuss the lessons that are being
learned by initiatives across the country and to work on common problems
they are facing.
Two of the Roundtable’s most influential publications
are Voices from the Field I (1997) and Voices
from the Field II (2002). The first volume describes the overall
function of Comprehensive Community Initiatives (CCIs) and highlights
fundamental challenges in their design and implementation. The second
volume reviews experiences and learning from the intervening five years,
and attempts to synthesize that learning to provide lessons about effective
strategies and a framework to guide future action.
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To understand the importance of vertical collaboration
and cross-neighbourhood collaboration, we began by asking what community
residents and local organizations can achieve on their own, without outside
Essentially, there are three areas where community-based
organizations can make a significant impact on their own. They can:
- Provide services and goods within the community, if they have sufficient
organizational capacity to do so.
- Work to change the social environment or cultural norms of the neighbourhood.
For example, they can help change local attitudes towards health-related
behaviours (like teenage sexual activity or smoking) or values around
- Build civic capacity by promoting collective action, and encouraging
local residents to vote and to lobby for their interests.
Without outside support, an organization’s ability
to make significant change is limited. The larger economy has a profound
impact on poverty levels locally, and economic change requires combined
input from the neighbourhood, city, the province or state, the nation,
as well as the private sector, which operates on all of these levels.
All of these systems overlap, and interact with each
other in an “ecology of change.” Even when a problem –
in poverty, housing, or education, for example – is primarily focused
on a local area, it is part of larger systems.
The reality is that community initiatives must work with
organizations from beyond the neighbourhood, such as government, funders
and grantmakers, and larger agencies. The challenge is to create intentional
working relationships with these organizations in a way that increases
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There are three broad categories of capacity-building
that are core to any effort to implement vertical collaboration:
- Political voice, including leadership development
and organizing strategies.
- Specialized strategic knowledge, including understanding
policy-making and budgeting processes in the social services sector;
and knowing where funders are and how they make their decisions.
- Problem-solving partnerships, including partnerships
with “anchor” institutions in the community such as hospitals
Vertical collaboration can be quite simple, or it can
be extremely complex and sophisticated.
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In order to build effective working relationships between
neighbourhoods, Anne and Pat recommend that neighbourhood-based CCIs focus
on developing the following capacities:
• Expertise in the subject field (poverty, education,
health, housing, etc.).
• The ability to monitor and evaluate collaborations.
• The ability to hold outside partners and themselves accountable.
• Developing a relationship with an “anchor,” such as
a local hospital, university, or college. This brings stability, helps
outside partners build trust and helps enforce accountability in the neighbourhood.
Building and Civic Capacity, Susan Saegert presents a variety
of models for capacity building, with case studies and outcomes for each.
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Aspen Institute Roundtable on Community Change – The
Roundtable’s website contains information about their various programs,
and PDF versions of many documents to download. To visit the site, click
Areas Foundation (IAF) – An IAF group in San Antonio,
Texas, successfully turned its attention to job training and support for
job trainees. You can link to the main IAF page by clicking here.
Benefits Agreement with the Staples Centre, LA - This document
provides background about the Community Benefits Agreement that was developed
around the construction of the Staples Centre in Los Angeles. You can
access the PDF here.
Neighborhood Houses, NYC – This umbrella organization
for the Settlement Houses in New York City provides specific technical
knowledge and staff support around policy issues, to bolster individual
groups’ own capacity. To view their web page, click here.
Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) –As an intermediary
organization LISC supports Community Development Corporations (CDCs).
LISC does considerable behind-the-scenes work with city staff, and as
a result, wields significant influence on behalf of individual CDCs. To
access their web page, click here.
Measures Project – The Success Measures Project is
an attempt to track and evaluate local indicators of success in community
development initiatives. To view their web site, click here.
Neighbourhood Vitality Index –
United Way/Centraide Canada is developing this new index of neighbourhood-based
success indicators, and doing beta-testing through the Action for Neighbourhood
Change initiative. There is no public release available yet, but we will
update this page when it becomes available.
Building and Civic Capacity – This paper, written by
Susan Saegert for the Roundtable, discusses a range of community building
strategies and their impact on civic engagement at different levels (individual,
network, organizational, and community-wide). To view the PDF version,
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from the Field II – This document reviews experiences
and learning from Comprehensive Community Initiatives, and attempts to
synthesize that learning to provide lessons about effective strategies
and a framework to guide future action. To view the PDF version, click
Knowledge about Community Change – This 2004 report
reviews 15 years of evaluating community building/revitalization efforts.
It asks three questions: How are we learning about community-based change?
What are we learning from the evaluations? Where do we go from here to
increase learning in the future? To access the PDF version of the report,
Kubisch on Collaboration – During a 2005 Tamarack tele-learning
session, Anne Kubisch discusses different forms of collaboration. The
page includes audio from the call, as well as highlighted information
and resources. To learn more, click here.
The Art of Revitalization – This
book by Sean Zielenbach discusses the revitalization of decayed inner-city
neighborhoods by exploring the role of social capital in stabilizing and
turning around distressed communities, and highlighting the roles that
local actors can and do play in the revitalization process. [Source: Sean
Zielenbach, The Art of Revitalization: Improving Conditions in Distressed
Inner-City Neighborhoods. Garland Publishing, 2000.]
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| Audio Description:
|Community Change: A Dialogue with
Anne Kubisch and Pat Auspos (runs 01:16:34)
Depending on your internet connection speed, the audio file may
take a few minutes to download.
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Action for Neighbourhood Change
was in operation from 2005-2007. This site exists to capture and share
the learnings that emerged from this initiative, but new material is
no longer being added on a regular basis. ANC is not responsible for
the content of external links, which may change; however, if you find
a broken link, please let us know.