The new Partnership for Families analyzed Richmond, looking for an area that was small enough to be impacted, but large enough to be meaningful.
They settled on Northside. The area’s 27 neighborhoods had no community-wide support system for young parents. Many families had no medical home; their only option was the emergency room and getting there required multiple bus rides. There were often no books in the home. Affordable, safe, high quality childcare was nearly impossible to find.
Coming up with realistic goals for meeting all those needs took longer than expected. There were more than a dozen high-functioning non-profits and agencies in the community, but no one organization could successfully tackle the myriad challenges.
So the Partnership brought them all together, asked for their support, and put out an RFP. Those who wanted to partner were asked not only what they would need from the Partnership, but also what they would bring to the Partnership.
One of the biggest challenges was to get everyone on the same page. Creating genuine collaboration required patience, perseverance, and many one-on-one interactions. “It was a relationship-based effort,” says Sally.
Trust was essential. The Partnership for Families had to first earn the trust of each non-profit’s leadership and staff. But once they did, the non-profits began to leverage the trust they’d earned from the community on behalf of the whole Partnership.
One of the first partners was Family Lifeline, an organization that provides families in need with everything from diapers, formula, and books, to job-hunting clothes and bus tickets. Two of their outreach workers would drive around in a Family Lifeline van, or ride around on city buses, passing out brochures and business cards. If they saw a young mother, for example, they’d ask if there was anything they could do to help. Whatever was needed, they could now draw on the resources of the Partnership’s growing number of partners. ►