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New & Next: Innovating Collective Impact

Miriam Peña, director of the Denver Office of Strategic Partnerships, explains the power of Collective Impact 2.0.
The concept of collective impact is one that has been around for many many years, but similar to other "trends" is one that is finally catching on. Collective impact was live and present during the Great Depression; during the Civil Rights movement; and even internationally, for instance, in the Zapatista movement in Chiapas, Mexico.

What all these movements have in common was the coming together of people, with lived experiences, that made them experts towards the goals they were trying to achieve. They realized that resources were limited, and even if they weren't, all existing resources could go further if they worked together. Today, thanks to the evolution of time and technology, among other new tools at our disposal, working across sectors is commonly seen as the most strategic avenue for getting from point A to point B and the most sure way of making deep and wide impact. This is Collective Impact 2.0.

Connecting with people we've never met before is easier than it's ever been. Thanks to Facebook and the like, as a society we're able to organize at lightning speed. Students organize walkouts and protests in high schools with a click of a button or a forward of a text message.

In Collective Impact 2.0, the power of this connectivity requires the responsibility of intentional inclusivity, inclusivity across age, race and sector and, because everyone knows someone that knows someone, we're able to connect quicker. Without this inclusivity, collective impact can't exist. Like many collaborations we've all been involved with, working together requires shared risk and shared benefit -- in other words, skin in the game. While not an easy feat, these collaborations yield the most reward because there is ownership in seeing solutions across the finish line.

No one sector has all the solutions, resources, capacity or lived experiences to take on any issue facing our society today. As we work to untangle the messiness of collaboration and what it means to work collectively, we value even more the role that an office like Denver's Office of Strategic Partnerships plays. It's the role of bridging and translating across sectors, the role of facilitation, making connections and having the bird's eye view of a situation in order to be a strong backbone for cooperation.

Let's return to our roots of depending on one another, while utilizing the partnerships, technology and lessons learned to do it even better. Thank you, Collective Impact!

Miriam Peña is director of Denver Office of Strategic Partnerships.
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