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April 1, 2016
We bring them up a lot – our Community Impact Partners. I imagine a lot of people don’t fully understand what these partnerships entail, and why they are important to our community. So, here’s a behind-the-scenes look at what they do and how their work changes our community for the better.
Community Impact Partners are a huge part of the work being done by United Way of Larimer County. They are the center of our Community Impact Agenda, which includes things like helping kids be ready for school, keeping kids on track to graduate, helping working families thrive, and meeting basic needs. Only by meeting the needs in these four areas can we break the cycle of poverty and create a brighter future for everyone in Larimer County.
Currently, there are more than 70 Community Impact Partners from all different sectors of the community, including nonprofit human services agencies, school districts, community organizations, professional associations, volunteer groups, the faith community, government entities, and foundations. These partners are broken down into three different collaborative groups dedicated to working together in new and different ways to address the root causes of poverty in Larimer County. In addition to the three collaborative groups, many of our partners focus on basic needs and safety net services. Each collaborative group applies for a United Way grant with the goal of advancing their combined work. Once they are awarded their grant, they decide how the funds should be split up between the group’s members, and how it is best used to achieve their part of the collective goal of reducing poverty in Larimer County.
Poverty is a community-wide issue and often not something that can be fixed by one program or initiative. By working together, local organizations no longer need to compete for resources or duplicate efforts. They can come together to address the long-term needs of the community like ensuring kids are prepared to learn and families have the tools they need to remain employed. “It is energizing to work with a group of visionaries who, instead of competing for precious resources, are eager to share and collaborate for the greater good of the people we serve,” stated Stephanie Slayton, Program Manager with Project Self-Sufficiency, a partner focused on helping working families thrive.
Linda Nuss, Program Director for Homeless Gear, a partner in the working families thrive collaborative group, explains, “With this collaborative, we have an amazing collective of organizations that clearly understand each other’s programs and can easily and accurately reach out to each other to streamline the process and get quicker and better results.”
While this collaborative work is relatively new to our community, we are already seeing progress being made. Nuss says this collaboration has directly impacted Homeless Gear by connecting them in a way that wasn’t happening before. It has created new, creative, and effective solutions that couldn’t have been done without the United Way Community Impact agenda. Additionally, Toni Zimmermann, one of the Directors of Campus Connections, one of the partners focused on helping keep kids on track to graduate, stated, “The creative synergy of the group has led to initiatives that otherwise would not have occurred.”
We are excited to see how the work done by our Community Impact Partners changes the outlook of poverty in the next several years. “Not every community can say that they have banded around a common goal and are willing to take some creative risks to try to reach that goal. Often, in this work, it is easy to get stuck in a pattern of service delivery. Working with a collective group gives you space and energy to look beyond that pattern,” said Slayton.
Copyright 2015 United Way of Larimer County