The Integration Initiative

Principles

Each site participating in The Integration Initiative is required to incorporate four high-impact strategies into their work to drive systems transformation and achieve impact at scale:

1. Moving beyond delivering programs and instead focus on transforming systems such as transportation, health, housing and jobs.
Decades of investments by government and philanthropy have demonstrated that programmatic and place-based efforts – while important and beneficial to some people - are not sufficient to connect low-income residents to economic opportunity at scale.

In The Integration Initiative, a system is defined as a network of interdependent functions and institutions which make up the whole. These complex systems are not the domain of one sector or institution—such as government--but rather made up of a range of actors which may include individuals, businesses, nonprofits, philanthropic organizations, governments, and communities. We also believe, that these actors often do not recognize themselves as part of a system until organized to do so. Transforming these systems, or making systems change, is the process of changing the behaviors and relationships between the institutions that make up the system in order to yield better results.

2. Building a resilient civic infrastructure, one table where decision-makers from across sectors and jurisdictions can formally convene and work together to define and address complex social problems.
The one table approach is an example of collective impact, “the commitment of a group of important actors from different sectors to a common agenda for solving a specific social problem.”

The one table approach is embedded the frame of adaptive leadership as articulated in the work of Ronald Heifetz. Adaptive leadership recognizes that complex social problems like health and poverty are, “adaptive problems [which] require innovation and learning among the interested parties and, even when a solution is discovered, no single entity has the authority to impose it on the others. The stakeholders themselves must create and implement the solution because the problem itself lies in their attitudes, priorities or behavior, and only a change within and between them will produce a solution.”

3.Bringing disruptive innovations into the mainstream and redirecting funds away from obsolete approaches toward what works.

In the social sector, there are many pilot projects, some of which yield better results than the status quo, but never move beyond the pilot phase or displace the status quo and become the “new normal.” The Integration Initiative sites commit to ensuring that high-impact disruptive innovations move from the pilot phase to the status quo.

4. Supplementing traditional government and philanthropic funding streams by driving the private market to work on behalf of low-income people.
In total, the Integration Initiative sites receive about $85 million, but less than $15 million of that is grant monies. The rest is below or market-rate loans. Each site develops a strategy for using the debt, and that strategy has to be aligned and integrated with the programmatic strategies of the overall initiative. Learn more about Capital and The Integration Initiative.