Thrive Chicago is a local initiative modeled after and supported by the national StriveTogether Network, which provides a roadmap for harnessing the power of collective impact. By bringing together organizations across multiple sectors, agreeing on common outcomes of focus, and uniting efforts spanning the entire continuum from cradle to career, Thrive Chicago will result in citywide alignment that benefits all children.
In June 2013, the Mayor’s Office brought together nearly 200 organizations for a daylong Design Institute that marked the launch of Thrive. Participants included colleges and universities, nonprofit providers, research and advocacy organizations, museums and cultural institutions, education systems and industry and philanthropic partners.
Much of the initiative’s first year was spent analyzing relevant data, identifying key outcomes, developing necessary infrastructure and building widespread support for the collaborative work ahead. Thrive Chicago’s partner organizations divided into five Change Networks focusing on specific outcomes along a child’s trajectory from cradle to career: kindergarten readiness, engagement in enrichment and academic activities, high school graduation, college completion and employment at living wages. Members of each Change Network used available data to determine where to focus their initial efforts, considering where there was the most need for intervention and where a coalition like Thrive could have the biggest impact. They also determined metrics for measuring progress and created action plans for their work.
As Thrive moved into its second year, the Change Networks have begun to implement action steps and specific strategies for systemic improvement across each of the five core outcome areas. Achieving the expected systemic impacts will require a shift in how stakeholders serve children across Chicago, and will necessarily be an iterative process. We expect to start seeing evidence of systemic change in 2015 and 2016 as a result of early collaboration across all sectors.
Thrive Data Pilot
Since effective use of data is a key component to advancing a collective impact model, Thrive Chicago helped initiate a partnership between Chicago Public Schools and eight community-based organizations and city agencies to pilot a set of data tools — the Thrive Chicago Toolkit.
Through the pilot, Thrive Chicago, in partnership with the Mayor’s Office and Chicago Public Schools, is leading the development of a citywide data warehouse to connect program data from partner organizations to student characteristic and outcome data. The partners will have access to a web-based dashboard to contextually view their data linked to aggregated (1) demographic data; (2) outcome data; and (3) program characteristic data.
After completing a successful pilot implementation of the data tools, Thrive Chicago will expand its use to other organizations.
Beginning in August 2013, Thrive’s Leadership Council has met on a quarterly basis to provide strategic guidance to the initiative. To date, the group has:
- Helped shape Thrive’s overall strategy;
- Supported the Change Networks as they developed their initial action plans;
- Provided feedback on the data tool;
- Reviewed Thrive Chicago’s baseline report; and
- Helped identify a fiscal sponsor and host to support Thrive’s operations during the next phase of the initiative’s development
Moving forward, this group will remain Thrive’s critical advisory body, informing all aspects of the initiative’s progress.