Highlights of The Integration Initative Stakehoder Survey

The Integration Initiative (TII) is a bold effort to transform the lives of low-income individuals and the communities in which they live by accelerating large-scale systemic change. To achieve system change, TII cities were to break down silos and create stronger collaboration across issue areas, stakeholder groups, and geographies. Living Cities always envisioned TII as a long-term effort, one that would take 10 years to ultimately achieve its audacious goals. The theory of change developed at the outset of the initiative anticipated that by the end of this first phase of work the outcomes in the five TII sites would be largely outputs of specific programmatic efforts and system change as evidenced by stronger cross-sector collaboration. The primary vehicle for building the collaboration was the “one-table,” cross-sector partnerships in which key decision-makers from across sectors and jurisdictions formally convened and worked together to define and tackle a complex social problem in their respective sites. While TII did not formally adopt a collective impact frame from the start, the “one-table” approach was strongly influenced by the principles of collective impact described by FSG in the winter 2011 Stanford Social Innovation Review article as “the commitment of a group of important actors from different sectors to a common agenda for solving a specific social problem.”

Now, at the end of phase I, we are at a juncture to pause and reflect on the progress to date and particularly to look at the progress of these tables in changing systems and breaking down the silos in their communities. The evaluation team will complete a report on the outcomes of Phase I in the summer of 2014, but has some preliminary results to share.

Mt. Auburn Associates and Mathematica Policy Research recently completed a survey of stakeholders in each of the five TII sites to see if they have indeed made progress in building collaboration across issue areas, stakeholder groups, and geographies. This was the second such survey, thus enabling some comparison to “baseline.” The cross-site findings of this survey give an indication of the growth in collaboration among the partners, the perceived impact on the communities, and also some of the challenges of building and maintaining collective impact tables.

The survey results show significant progress toward the goals that TII set for the first three years of the initiative in building the collaboration across issue areas, stakeholder groups, and geographies.

Cross-stakeholder collaboration increased . The increasing ties are most interesting to look at by sector type. Employers deepened community and regional relationships noting the greatest increases in involvement with philanthropy, regional planning organizations, and community-based organizations. Philanthropy deepened ties most notably with regional planning organizations, community development finance institutions, and employers. Community-based organizations saw the greatest increase in involvement with regional planning organizations and local area employers.

Collaboration across geographic boundaries also increased . While all sectors saw increased involvement across different geographies, community-based organizations, often more focused on narrow geographies, saw the greatest benefit.

TII has exposed stakeholders to different issue areas , significantly increasing the involvement of some sector with organizations well beyond their typical area of engagement. Employers particularly noted that their involvement in community engagement and workforce development increased dramatically. Philanthropy also noted a significant increase in their involvement in community engagement and organizing as well as education.

System changes are leading to sustainable and enduring and/or scalable outcomes . The survey findings suggest that these improving relationships, changing perceptions, and expanding boundaries are leading to the kinds of enduring changes that should eventually allow TII to make a significant difference in the lives of low-income individuals in the five sites. The survey noted the following indicators that system change is leading to enduring and scalable outcomes:

  • 86% of respondents felt the initiative had changed their organization or department’s practices ;
  • 75% felt the initiative had influenced how their organization deployed resources ;
  • 85% felt the initiative had changed the way their organization partners with other organizations .

Collaboration is benefitting communities . Stakeholders believe progress will increasingly benefit low-income individuals.

  • 85% of respondents believe their city is better off because of the initiative;
  • 59% of respondents feel low-income individuals are better off ;
  • 81% feel the initiative started making long-term changes that will benefit low-income people more over the next 5-10 years.

The survey results show TII sites moving in a positive direction. The survey shows progress exactly where Living Cities expected it to be at the end of three years—a system of actors with a greater understanding of and relationships with organizations across issue areas, stakeholder groups, and geographies. The evaluation report to be issued this summer will delve into the specific progress made in each site and document the types of sustainable outcomes that are being achieved as a result of system change. We also look forward to continuing to work with TII cities to explore how they continue to progress toward their bold goals of improving the lives of low-income individuals.

Beth Siegel is President and Devon Winey is a Principal at Mt. Auburn Associates, the firm that leads Living Cities' Integration Initiative evaluation efforts.