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Franklin County Communities that Care Coalition is a collective impact initiative to reduce substance use and improve the ability of youth to reach their full potential in rural Franklin County, Massachusetts. A resource for collective impact backbone organizations, funders, and partners, this case study provides an overview of the initiative, along with lessons learned.

Top Takeaways

  1. The fundamentals of the work can happen at the workgroup level: having cross-sectoral, volunteer-staffed workgroups lead the bulk of the work fosters deep understanding of community needs and creates collective ownership of success.
  2. Be rigid in vision and goals, but flexible in strategy: Collective impact initiatives succeed when they are rigorous in agreeing to what they will accomplish, but adaptive and flexible with strategies to accomplish those goals. Revising its strategy based on a national study indicating that youth who regularly ate dinner with their families were at lower risk of substance abuse, Communities That Care Coalition started a public awareness campaign about family dinners. This change in strategy yielded positive results.
  3. Leverage relationships to secure collective impact resources: to navigate the challenges presented by its rural context, Communities That Care Coalition built community relationships to attract in-kind support and funding.
To encourage broad ownership of the work, Communities That Care Coalition emphasizes each partner’s role in creating change and each partner’s ownership of successes.