Harnessing community and innovation into collective impact

Senior Vice President of Strategic Planning & Growth, Rebecca Brune, recently spoke on behalf of Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas Inc. at the Council on Foundation's 2016 Annual Conference in Washington D.C. Over 1,300 attendees gathered from across the country to advocate the importance of philanthropy and to connect with others in the field and enhance their skills. As one of three panelists for the "Harnessing community and innovation into collective impact" session, Brune provided an overview of Methodist Healthcare Ministries' Sí Texas: Social Innovation for a Healthy South Texas Project (Sí Texas Project), a Social Innovation Fund program, and its impact in South Texas.

The panel session was moderated by Lois Nembhard, Deputy Director for the Social Innovation Fund – a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service that combines public and private resources to grow the impact of innovative, community-based solutions that have compelling evidence of improving the lives of people in low-income communities throughout the United States.

Session speakers discussed progress made on their shared purpose initiatives. Additional panelists included fellow Social Innovation Fund grantees, Avo Makdessian, director of Silicon Valley Community Foundation's Center for Early Learning, who discussed early childhood education in San Mateo County; and Marc McDonald, director of grants management for the AARP Foundation who touched on back to work economic stability for women age 50 and above nationwide. Brune depicted how the Sí Texas Project is largely centered on the treatment of chronic disease and related behavioral health conditions in twelve South Texas counties.

Sí Texas focuses on integrated behavioral health models that are effectively improving health outcomes in communities with high rates of poverty, depression, diabetes, obesity and associated risk factors. Brune explained that Methodist Healthcare Ministries' Sí Texas project stimulates local solutions that improve both physical and behavioral health together, such as diabetes and depression. The project targets 12 South Texas counties: Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr, Willacy, Kenedy, Brooks, Jim Hogg, Zapata, Duval, Jim Wells, Kleberg and Webb. Methodist Healthcare Ministries is the first faith-based organization to receive funding from the Social Innovation Fund program. The project leverages both federal and non-federal dollars to South Texas that otherwise would not have been available to the region.

Shared measures are essential for any collective impact effort, but agreeing to them can be a challenging process. At the end of the session, attendees were taught how to assess the value of shared measures, and how to align multiple programs around the same performance measures.

For more on Methodist Healthcare Ministries and the Sí Texas Project, visit http://www.mhm.org/programs/sitexas. For more information about The Council on Foundations, which aims to provide the opportunity, leadership, and tools needed by philanthropic organizations to expand, enhance, and sustain their ability to advance the common good, visit http://www.cof.org/