Collective Action for Community Development

Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

Year: 2014

Realizing that disconnected silo-based efforts cannot effectively address these interrelated conditions on their own, innovators within the community development field have increasingly experimented with a different approach that speaks to linked community challenges. In this emerging approach, professionals from different but related community development sectors work together in a multi-sector coalition toward a common goal with an aim to holistically improve conditions for a group of people, neighborhood, or region. This approach is referred to as cross-sector community development, collective action, systems-level change, or collective impact, among other names.

This issue of Community Investments explores this emerging approach and lifts up early learnings from pioneers in the field. The articles discuss how to establish and grow collective action leadership organizations and working groups and build a strong but flexible initiative framework; consider how government can be an effective partner in collective action work; and convey the critical role of data and measurement in these initiatives. We also examine some early examples of collective action initiatives in practice.

Table of Contents:

CI Notebook

It’s not surprising that the idea of collective action has gained rapid interest and followers recently. The framework, which seeks to produce true alignment of purpose across related sectors working on social, economic, and environmental challenges, offers a great deal of promise for making significant improvements in the life chances for disadvantaged populations.

Embracing a Collective Action Approach to Community Development

What is collective action, and why is it emerging as a comprehensive community development model?

How Do You Build the “Right” Cross-Sector Partnership to Implement Collective Impact Approaches?

Discover the central role of a strong cross-sector partnership in organizing and leading collective impact initiatives.

Committing to Collective Impact: From Vision to Implementation

Flexible and adaptable working groups are key components of putting a collective impact effort into action.

The Magnolia Community Initiative: The Importance of Measurement in Improving Community Well-Being

Learn how shared data and measurement systems are helping a collective action initiative to improve community health and well-being.

THE Network: A Cross-Sector Approach to Lowering Transit + Housing + Energy Costs in California

Affordable housing advocates and their allies employ a collective impact strategy to work toward reducing housing, transportation, and energy costs for lower-income Californians.

The Sustainable Communities Initiative: Collective Impact in Practice

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Transportation, and Environmental Protection Agency work with local communities to build a partnership that fosters collective action approaches to local and regional planning and development challenges.

Data Snapshot

If the entire population of the 12th District were 100 people, where would they live, how many would be employed, and how many would live in poverty?

Research Briefs

New studies consider the impact of veterans’ personal finance management on their housing stability, and examine what options municipalities have to support affordable housing after the Great Recession