“As previous briefs in the Corridors of College Success Series have described, collective impact is a collaborative, place-based model for addressing common social problems (Kania & Kramer, 2011; Karp & Lundy-Wagner, 2015, 2016). Place-based efforts to provide wide-ranging social services date back to the settlement house movement beginning in the late 19th century (Henig, Rebell, & Wolff, 2015). However, one of the defining elements of collective impact that differentiates it from previous forms of place-based collaboration is its approach to partnership formation. The collective impact model is based on the premise that meaningful collaboration requires the development of a comprehensive multi-sector partnership that brings together organizations from key sectors within a community, such as government agencies, foundations, community-based organizations, K-12 school systems, postsecondary institutions, and employers.
Because collective impact work cannot be carried out effectively without the foundation of a strong multi-sector partnership, it is crucial to understand whether communities attempting to engage in collective impact are able to develop one, and what factors facilitate or hinder this type of partnership formation. In this brief, I help to answer this question by examining how postsecondary institutions have attempted to develop multi-sector partnerships within a collective impact context, using data from a study of the Ford Corridors of College Success initiative (“Corridors”). The goal of this initiative is to increase the attainment of postsecondary education credentials that lead to high quality careers among students from underserved populations by creating more student-supported and seamlessly connected education-to-career pathways. Because two-year public colleges enroll so many low-income and first-generation students, this initiative focuses on community colleges as a locus of engagement. Corridors thus requires that each of its five sites include an anchor community college.”