Our names are Susan M. Wolfe and Kyrah K. Brown and we are consultants at CNM Connect where we provide evaluation and capacity building services to nonprofit organizations. Our work also includes evaluating community collaborations and coalitions. To effectively address most health, education, and other social issues at a systems level requires that communities address inequity and injustice.
RAD RESOURCE: In January, 2017 an article titled “Collaborating for Equity and Justice: Moving Beyond Collective Impact” was published in the Nonprofit Quarterly.
The authors presented the following six principles to promote equity and justice and each has implications for how coalitions and community collaboratives are evaluated.
Principle 1: Explicitly address issues of social and economic injustice and structural racism.
- HOT TIP: Nearly all human problems, especially where there are disparities in outcomes, can be traced to social and economic injustice and/or structural racism. As an evaluator, examine whether these issues are being discussed and directly addressed.
Principle 2: Employ a community development approach in which residents have equal power in determining the coalition’s or collaborative’s agenda and resource allocation.
- HOT TIP: Ask who has the actual power to make decisions and set agendas for the collaborative.
Principle 3: Employ community organizing as an intentional strategy and as part of the process. Work to build resident leadership and power.
- HOT TIP: Closely examine the membership and leadership to determine the extent to which residents, or those who are directly affected by the issue at hand, are members and leaders.
Principle 4: Focus on policy, systems, and structural change.
- HOT TIP: Review the agendas and activities to determine whether they are promoting more programs, or facilitating change in policies, systems, and structures.
Principle 5: Build on the extensive community-engaged scholarship and research over the last four decades that show what works, that acknowledge the complexities, and that evaluate appropriately.
Principle 6: Construct core functions for the collaborative based on equity and justice that provide basic facilitating structures and build member ownership and leadership.
RAD RESOURCE: The Collaborating for Equity and Justice Toolkit provided by The Community Tool Box can be accessed at: https://www.myctb.org/wst/CEJ/Pages/home.aspx
HOT TIP: Many nonprofits and health agencies are engaged in collaborative work and are oftentimes looking for effective frameworks to model after. Evaluators can use the Collaborating for Equity and Justice Toolkit to facilitate discussions and coalition development and planning efforts. When you introduce nonprofits and collaboratives to the framework, it may be helpful to provide brief presentations or facilitate interactive planning sessions. Prepare guided questions that help nonprofits to think about the application of the six principles in their work. As mentioned, the application of this framework can prove to be useful in refining or developing coalition goals that are intentional and evaluating their efficiency and effectiveness in meeting those goals.
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