Implement a Coalition or Improve an Already-Existing One— try these steps:
- Assess the Landscape of Existing and Potential Coalition Partners — Stakeholder analysis is a key step for exploring shared interests and identifying the potential risks and benefits of developing coalitions. Use existing tools, like the Ready by 21 Stakeholder Wheel, to begin your coalition building with a comprehensive scan of the landscape of stakeholders with a vested interest in Out-of-School Time. In communities with established OST coalitions, use this same tool to identify gaps in representation.
- Develop and Solidify Your Coalition — Now that you have a more holistic picture of the stakeholders occupying the community landscape on Out-of-School Time, focus actions on engaging new partners to potentially join the coalition. This is a good time to develop partner agreements (if you do not already have them) that clarify expectations and outline partner commitments to the coalition. It is also an ideal time to revisit any existing action or strategic plans with these new coalition members on board.
- Connect to Other Local and Statewide Afterschool Networks — Statewide afterschool networks currently exist in about 37 states. These networks, which are supported with significant investments from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, work individually and collectively on three key goals: (1) creating and sustaining statewide, regional and local partnerships focused on policy development, (2) securing additional resources for afterschool programs to support and sustain Out-of-School Time initiatives, and (3) supporting statewide systems focused on Out-of-School Time quality. Where applicable, your local coalition should connect with your statewide afterschool network to align and leverage efforts for maximum impact. To find out if your state has a statewide afterschool network, click here. Similarly, many local networks and intermediaries are working collaboratively to share systems-building best practices across the country. One group to watch is the Collaborative for Building Afterschool Systems, a group of local OST intermediaries focused on working together to strengthen city-based approaches so that these initiatives are an essential component of wrap-around supports for children and youth.
- Take Action — Check out the page on Actions United Ways Can Take to get some ideas.
- Measure the Value Add of Your Out-of-School Time Coalition — Coalitions serve as change agents. They act as a collective voice on key issues of community concern that individual stakeholders may not have. Your OST coalition exists to focus on systems improvement and capacity building (not direct services). You can leverage and generate resources, build the individual capacities of your members, and create economies of scale by investing in infrastructure to support services and programs. But this work often goes unseen and unaccounted for, in contrast to the greater efforts put into documenting program outcomes. Your coalition must learn to document and describe your efforts and capture the impact of your coalition in relation to desired outcomes for children and youth.
To learn more tips on creating and leading effective coalitions, head to the Learning Modules.