As our organization has evolved over the past 20 years, we’ve worked to intentionally build out this idea of Collective Impact. Often, people get the general idea – yeah, let’s come together and make a difference – but what do we really mean when we say Collective Impact?
Definition: Collective Impact
1. broad cross-sector coordination focused on large-scale social change involving a structured process guided by a backbone organization that leads to a common agenda, shared measurement, continuous communication, and mutually reinforcing activities among all participants.
At Earth Force, we care deeply about the future of our communities and our democracy, so having a knowledgeable, engaged populace is critical. In our ideal community, organizations are holding up a world where young people are actively engaged today.
Earth Force’s contribution is guiding a transformative process that combines the best strategies in service-learning, environmental education and action, and youth civic engagement and leadership (depicted here as the yellow brick road), to guide young people through a process (represented by the speech bubbles) where they engineer strategies to address a wide range of environmental issues in their community. As you can see, young people work with each other, and with adults, to gain practical experiences and confidence in their abilities to be change agents in their communities.
We work to build, foster, and support collective impact in 50 communities across the country. In Wentzville, MO, the City of Wentzville, General Motors, Wentzville Middle School, Holt High School, and Earth Force engaged nearly 550 students last year in working with their community to develop solutions to water quality issues in Peruque Creek.
In Washington, DC, 120 students from Cesar Chavez Public Charter School – Parkside, the SEED School of DC, and Dunbar High School addressed litter and waste in the Watts Branch stream this year through support from District Department of the Environment, Groundwork Anacostia River DC, Cacapon Institute, and Earth Force.
On September 22, 2014, our work in Collective Impact will be on display at 20 Years: Celebrating a Watershed Moment in Earth Force History, our 20th anniversary party in Washington, DC. We invite you to join us on the Cherry Blossom Riverboat as we share and celebrate improving communities and the amazing work of all our educators, youth, and partners while cruising along the Potomac River.
So many of us are working to make a difference in our communities. Our goal is to connect these efforts so that we can have a larger impact, together. Join us on the 22nd and toast to the strides made and those yet to come.