In 2008, Foundations of East Chicago grantees brought individuals and members of agencies and organizations together for the first time in an effort to support working systematically toward solutions to existing and emerging challenges in Education and Public Safety. We assessed that these community issues could not be solved by one agency alone.
In January of 2008, the Foundations of East Chicago also adopted a new Strategic Plan. Major aspects of this Plan echoed citizen input which resulted in identifying six critical community priorities:
- -Public Safety
- -Youth Development
- -Family Support
- -Financial Independence & Community Economic Development
The Strategic Plan also noted the following goals:
-Fostering grant making excellence in serving the community of East Chicago with priorities of education and public safety
-Increasing the capacity of local organizations and institutions to meet the needs of East Chicago’s residents
-Measuring the impact of funding and leadership through ongoing evaluation
-Strengthening partnerships with local, regional, statewide, and national entities
-Leveraging additional public and private resources.
These aspects eventually evolved and led to establishing collaboration networks which would share ideas, insights into other capabilities and programs and communicate operational preparedness and agreement with methodologies to address the two most critical issues of Public Safety and Education.
Of those applying to participate in the Collaboration Network in 2008, 41 organizations which represented a conglomeration of public agencies and private organizations which were awarded grants to work with professional facilitators to assess the needs of the community, analyze organizational programs and capacities and define a pathway to help improve East Chicago.
The two Collaboration Networks, one focusing on Education issues, the other focusing on Public Safety issues, began to work together in September 2008. FEC budgeted $200,000 to support this new collaborative approach. Through their efforts, they each worked to prepare a report detailing the process for which they could utilize and help improve the community.
Building on the strategies established from their analysis, they assembled into five strategic areas whose topics included:
- -Reducing Crime
- -Building Neighborhoods
- -Strengthening Families
- -Building School-Community Connections
- -Strengthening Youth Programs to Improve Student Success
Since our inception, it has been our goal to invest in the community of East Chicago through a collaborative approach. The Foundations of East Chicago continues to play a leadership role in improving local educational opportunities by assisting organizations develop strategies and build capacity. Community collaborations offer one solution to building capacity to help improve the lives of children and families.