Brokering Children and Youth Outcomes Through Cross-Sector Collective Impact

blogimage_billingsBy Matthew Billings, Project Manager, Providence Children and Youth Cabinet

Matthew Billings discusses the intersector workings of Children and Youth Cabinet (CYC), a cradle-to-career network designed to help Providence and Rhode Island’s public and private agencies and systems work together.

The paradigm shift is on. The age of the monolith foundation is coming to a close. Large scale, multi-year grants that sustain both programmatic and operational efforts are coming to market with less frequency. Impact investment products and pay for success agreements are in early implementation, complex to initiate, and require significant infrastructure to deliver. Traditional angel investors seek profit and ownership rather than social outcomes. Providence, Rhode Island, and the Children and Youth Cabinet are preparing for the future, while brokering outcomes today.

The Providence Children and Youth Cabinet
As the backbone organization for the Collective Impact movement in the City of Providence and State of Rhode Island, the Children and Youth Cabinet (CYC) is financing and brokering outcomes now, while building the infrastructure to deliver on complex and innovative financing models in the near future. The CYC is a cradle-to-career network designed to help Providence and Rhode Island’s public and private agencies and systems work in a more integrated way, with cross-system planning as a core strategy. The CYC is currently incubating a national pilot of the Annie E. Casey Foundation that is changing the way cross-sector systems think, act, prioritize, and finance outcomes for all children and youth in the city.

Evidence2Success: A Model for Cross-Sector and Systems Collaboration
While every investment in children and youth is an investment in the future, not all investments yield the same return. Nor do families, communities, schools, public systems, and elected officials necessarily agree on what these investments look like and how they are distributed. Evidence2Success (E2S) is a framework for achieving consensus on local needs and priorities in urban communities through the collaborative action of joint priority setting and joint selection of programs that ultimately guides comprehensive investments. Evidence2Success emphasizes proven programs for prevention, which tend to be more cost-effective than later, more intensive interventions. In particular, Evidence2Success aims to prevent problem behaviors that often lead to intensive, high cost services such as residential placements and incarceration. A study on a related framework in Washington State yielded a benefit-cost ratio of $8.22 per dollar invested in prevention over a five-year period.

Convening Cross-Sector Partners to Build Consensus and Deliver Outcomes
Convening cross-sector partners in networks with clearly defined forms, functions, charges, and deliverables is a hallmark of the Evidence2Success initiative.

Leadership Team
The E2S Leadership Team is composed of systems leaders and executives. The charge of the Leadership Team is to sustain the system-level collaborative nature of the work.

Finance Subcommittee
The E2S Finance Subcommittee is a cross-sector team with representatives from state and city level institutions as well as local philanthropy. The charge of the subcommittee is to prioritize funding strategies.

Citywide Workgroup
The E2S Citywide Workgroup membership represents cross sector representation across Providence. This is the team that looks at programs and outcomes at the highest level.

Community Partnership Table
The E2S Community Partnership Table is made up of residents and service providers from the identified neighborhoods. The charge of this Table is to engage local expertise and resident voices in all facets of the initiative.

A Cross-Systems Financing Plan
Evidence2Success includes a financing component that helps multiple partners bring together their categorical resources to support more preventive and comprehensive services. As a start-up approach, the Evidence2Success Leadership Team identified resources from their own budgets for 2015 implementation, thereby demonstrating their strong commitment to the collaborative work of Evidence2Success. This initial investment of $240,000 has been enough to deliver initial, targeted children and youth outcomes, as well as attract additional investments and funders.

CYC Lands Department of Health, Health Equity Zones Grant
Pace of scale and results are poised to increase exponentially as a result of The Providence Children and Youth Cabinet’s recent award of a Health Equity Zone (HEZ) grant from the Rhode Island Department of Health. The CYC HEZ proposal was a partnership between six E2S partner institutions and organizations. The grant will scale identified evidence based programs. Additionally, the HEZ funding will build key infrastructure that will ensure effective implementation long after the award has expired.

The Horizon is Now
We believe this work in Providence anticipates a major shift in the direction of children’s services across the United States toward proven programming and the absolute necessity of boundary spanning partnerships across service and institutional silos. Providence is proving that communities can work together with their systems and government leaders to both deliver what works, while attracting new public and private investments, that support proven outcomes for all of our children and youth.