Announcing the Finalists

The 2017 Collaboration Prize is proud to announce the 8 Finalists for this year’s prize, chosen from a pool of over 350 submissions. This is a national award designed to highlight exceptional permanent models of collaboration among nonprofit organizations.

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The eight finalists, chosen from a selection panel comprising of major supporters of nonprofit collaboration, will each receive a $10,000 prize. The grand prize winner will receive an additional $150,000 and will be announced in April 2017.

The 8 finalists are:

Ability Partners, New York, Merger
Happiness House, CP Rochester, and Rochester Rehabilitation underwent a corporate restructuring to strengthen the delivery of a range of educational, therapeutic, family support, residential, employment, and mental health services to differently-abled children and adults as well as their families in upstate New York. These partners selected a particularly flexible form that creates cost savings and efficiencies through shared management, quality control, and administrative functions that support a wide range of programs in a multi-county region. The greatest success has been in not just retaining services through a tumultuous period of change in the underlying financial model of these organizations, but in leveraging their partnership to serve more individuals and families with higher quality. In addition, the strong ties among the three organizations led the Happiness House Foundation to become the Ability Partners Foundation which now raises money to support all three partners.

AgeWell – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Alliance
What began 14 years ago as a partnership among the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh (JCC), Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JF&CS;), and Jewish Association on Aging (JAA) formed to respond to a federal innovation grant has deeply connected three Pittsburgh organizations serving seniors. AgeWell Pittsburgh has reduced duplication of services and confusion for consumers. Staff at every level are engaged with teams of their peers in operating the collaboration and there is shared responsibility for planning, budgeting, and fundraising for the collaborative. Through AgeWell Pittsburgh, the three agencies have been able to rethink both services and service delivery. In 2011, AgeWell Pittsburgh implemented an outcome measurement tool to collect data across all three agencies that is used to strengthen services. The focus on the community and on outcomes has reoriented the cultures of the three agencies. Today 96% of the 7,000 seniors enrolled in AgeWell Pittsburgh services maintain non-institutional status. These results have made Age Well Pittsburgh a model that is being replicated in other communities with the same collaborative structure and spirit.

Chicago Benchmarking Collaborative, Illinois, Alliance
Faced with the question – is better good enough? – the CEO of Christopher House set out to find peer organizations that were measuring outcomes in their early childhood learning programs. She didn’t find others collecting and analyzing outcomes data, but did find a group of like-minded partners willing to explore the potential to jointly collect and share data for analysis, peer learning, and program improvement. Through a discovery process, they developed a set of common outcomes and a technology blueprint to track metrics. The five organizations that are part of the Chicago Benchmarking Collaborative saved $150,000 in the current fiscal year by sharing project management and technology costs while improving outcomes. Their partnership with Northwestern University has helped strengthen their use of data and they have become a national model in their field.

Historic Germantown, Pennsylvania, Merger
Historic Germantown is a partnership among 16 historic houses, destinations, and museums in Northwest Philadelphia that have joined together to protect, preserve, and share some of Philadelphia’s prized historical assets. At the foundation of this partnership is a merger between Historic Germantown and the Germantown Historical Society.

The Germantown neighborhood is predominantly African American, few residents have post-secondary education, and most are lower income. The merger connected the 16 sites in new ways that are creating more community connections and relevance. Historic homes once occupied by wealthy Philadelphians are now being linked with buildings used to shelter slaves on the underground railway, gardens, schools, and other sites that tell the stories of Philadelphia’s early history through a broader and more inclusive narrative. These sites are also being connected to and used to leverage economic development efforts in the neighborhood, the arts and artists, and to create greater community pride and cohesion. The collaboration is creating opportunities for cost savings and cost sharing, and for joint fundraising.

Multi-Agency Alliance for Children, Georgia, Alliance
The Multi-Agency Alliance for Children (MAAC) was born out of a proposal by the state of Georgia that would have dramatically altered the operating environment and financial models for the agencies that created and continue to be participants in MAAC. There was concern that, with managed care, not only would the agencies be in jeopardy, but the high need young people these agencies serve would not receive the level and range of services they had been receiving and which MAAC continues to provide.

The founders of MAAC recruited a group of agency leaders whose organizations provided different services that, combined, would offer an integrated continuum of care to young people in foster care with severe behavioral issues. They envisioned MAAC as a “service mall” with a set of “stores” of various types and sizes that would be able to outfit a young person with everything they need to succeed. MAAC contracts directly with the State of Georgia to deliver services through its member agencies to high need foster youth. Many of these young people have a history of trauma and some have been involved in the criminal justice system. MAAC’s service mall approach allows MAAC to work with the agencies to formulate a course of action designed to meet the needs of these young people which may include receiving services from several agencies or from successive agencies that move the young person from more intensive settings as they become better able to function.

MAAC’s groundbreaking collaborative model offers a fluid framework that has caused it to be recognized within Georgia and nationally for its work.

Power Scholars Academy, Massachusetts and Illinois, Joint Programming
As part of its commitment to strengthening communities, the Y conducted a scan of the field to find a national partner with which it could implement an evidenced-based summer program across its association network. BELL, a leader in the field, was selected and the two began an intentional process to explore the form a collaboration might take. In short order, BELL and Y-USA convened a steering committee, made up of leaders of both organizations, to determine how to bring the BELL summer learning program to Y communities nationwide. From this effort, Power Scholars Academy (PSA) was born. Beginning with a pilot initiative serving 300 youth in the summer of 2013, the program has now grown to serve 5,000 predominantly low-income K-8 students at 60 Y associations throughout the country. Together, the two organizations are on track to grow PSA ten-fold in the next several years.

P.S. Arts / IOCA, California, Merger
Leaders of P.S. ARTS and IOCA had worked together in the context of a collaborative effort to increase children’s access to quality arts education. This experience made it evident to the respective Executive Directors that the two organizations complemented one another. P.S. ARTS worked primarily at the elementary school level, while IOCA worked with middle school students. When an opportunity arose to explore a deeper partnership, the two organizations jumped at the opportunity. Over a year of careful deliberations, they streamlined the management structure, reimagined programs, and fully merged staff, governance, programs, and functions. Today P.S. ARTS is serving 7,000 more children than were served by the two organizations before the merger, has a wider geographic reach, and is attracting positive attention for its work — including from new donors.

Stand! For Families Free of Violence, California, Merger
STAND! For Families Free of Violence represents the innovative merger of STAND! Against Domestic Violence and the Family Stress Center which address child abuse. As a unified agency, STAND! has the scale, expertise and community networks to address these interdependent problems with interlinked solutions. STAND! today is one of the largest family violence nonprofits in Northern California and is a respected leader in the field. The merger of the two agencies reduced administrative overhead and created other organizational efficiencies that allowed the organization to absorb, integrate, and re-create a comprehensive portfolio of services while effectively doubling its annual operating budget from $3.3 to $6.4 million. The impact on the community has been impressive, allowing victims to access services from four offices and nine satellite sites located in police departments, hospital emergency rooms, schools, and other social service agencies. Furthermore, victims and their families can recover and rebuild within one comprehensive system. Its pioneering approach has made STAND! a sought-after partner and in 2012, STAND! was selected as one of four organizations in the country to pilot a national initiative designed to mitigate a domestic violence victim’s risk for homicide by an intimate partner. Through all of its work, STAND! seeks to end the multi-generational cycle of family violence.