What is Collective Impact?

North Country Thrive is nationally accredited through StriveTogether which supports our initiative with resources, expertise, and overall structure for best practices.


More Than Collaboration

Communities throughout the country have seen hundreds of individual programs, organizations and initiatives work to solve overlapping local social problems. Working in silos, these efforts have traditionally fought for the same pot of money and resources with mixed results. 

While there have been improvements for individual classrooms or schools, long-term, systemic change has seemed unattainable.

Urban school districts in Cincinnati, Ohio and Northern Kentucky were in similar positions when StrivePartnership started as the first cradle to career community in 2006. By bringing together local leaders to improve education in the region’s urban core, the partnership sought to increase student success throughout three public school districts. More than 300 cross-sector representatives joined in the effort, including school district superintendents, non-profit practitioners, business leaders, city officials and university presidents.

StrivePartnership didn’t create a new program or raise more money. Instead, they agreed on a common set of goals, outcomes and 53 success indicators, including kindergarten readiness, fourth-grade reading and math scores, graduation rates and college completion. They aligned resources, and continuously analyzed and shared data to track progress. They used continuous quality improvement, a methodology often used in engineering and healthcare, to coordinate practices and direct resources to what was proven to work for kids. Together, the partnership improved 34 of the 53 indicators in the first four years, and they continue working to improve education for students throughout the city.

That is collective impact.


The StriveTogether Theory of Action

StriveTogether brings proven expertise, effective resources and a nationally-recognized collective impact approach that enables communities to create local education ecosystems to support children and youth from cradle to career.

This approach helps align existing resources to increase impact by using data to determine what works best for children. We support communities in developing shared outcomes and indicators of success to use across programs and systems, identifying promising practices and allowing for meaningful dialogue about local disparities and solutions to close achievement gaps.

Finally, we work with communities to regularly use data to consistently implement and improve strategies through continuous improvement and collective impact.

Built on lessons from StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network Members, our Theory of Action offers quality benchmarks that distinguish this work, not only from traditional collaboration, but also from other collective impact approaches. With this structure, communities develop and sustain local cradle to career partnerships.

The Theory of Action is built on four principles: 

  • Engage the community | Work with a broad array of community voices to create unified education strategies and solutions.
  • Focus on eliminating locally defined disparities | Use local data to identify inequalities in student achievement and prioritize efforts to improve student outcomes.
  • Develop a culture of continuous improvement | Use local data, community expertise and national research to identify areas for constant, disciplined improvement.
  • Leverage existing assets | Build on and align existing community resources to maximize impact of the work.

With these principles in mind, communities are able to chart the path from emerging to sustaining and systems change stages of the Theory of Action. Communities that have embraced StriveTogether’s quality approach have made progress in building civic infrastructure and have seen emerging progress on student outcomes.