When it comes to best practices in collaboration and stakeholder engagement, it all comes down to “systemness.” So say members of the Columbus-based Community Education Coalition, which since 1997 has worked to build stronger links between education initiatives and economic development and, in turn, bolster the area’s workforce.
At the latest meeting of Indiana University’s Council for Regional Engagement and Economic Development (CREED) on Aug. 24, members learned about “best practices” that CEC has picked up over the years when it comes to fostering collaboration and enhancing stakeholder engagement.
In many cases, solving complex problems boils down to dissolving the existing system, learning how its relationships work and then redesigning it to produce the desired outcome, said Jack Hess, executive director for the Institute for Coalition Building, which is managed by the CEC.
“It involves getting people and institutions to see they are a part of something bigger. Which is hard because it’s not a natural mindset. Silos exist and while many communities are system rich, they are program poor,” Hess said.
“To make systems effective, you have to change the relationships in the network. Most are a mess when you first encounter them. But once you come to know them and how they work, you understand how to shape them over time. And that is done through an engagement process that involves collaboration and introduces a common language and common approach. This can take time to do. But over time, you develop a collective leadership — a guiding team — from which you build a collaborative structure where progress can emerge.”
In other items, Ian Steff of the Indiana Economic Development Corp. broke down details of a 10-year, $1 billion initiative to boost innovation and entrepreneurship announced in July by Indiana Gov. and vice presidential candidate Mike Pence. The funding allotments include:
- $500 million from the Indiana Public Retirement System (investments into early stage and mid-market Indiana companies).
- $300 million from the General Assembly (continued funding of $30 million annually into Indiana’s 21Fund, which provides investments and grants into early-stage, mid-market and high-growth companies).
- $100 million from the General Assembly approval of a transfer of the Venture Capital Investment tax credit to make private sector funding more accessible to innovators and startup companies.
- $100 million from the General Assembly to further advance innovation and entrepreneurial education programs and practices through strategic partnerships with higher education and research institutes.
Community Health Partnerships
CREED members also learned about the mission of Community Health Partnerships (CHeP), the community outreach arm of the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute. Its mission is to improve the health of Indiana residents through community-university partnerships, said Lisa Staten, one of CHeP’s associate directors.
CHeP maintains a network of more than 600 community and university stakeholders statewide that include government, public health, industry, non-profit and other community-based organizations. It also conducts several community-based research pilot projects that aim to evaluate or improve certain aspects of health care.
In collaboration with the Indiana Department of Health, CHeP funded 14 pilot projects during the fall of 2015 whose focus areas included infant mortality reduction, increased immunizations, reduced tobacco use and lowering obesity levels. Awards for the 2016 pilot programs will be announced Sept. 13, with projects beginning on Oct. 1.
Earlier this year, CHeP played a substantial role in one of the finalist proposals for IU’s Grand Challenges research initiative. CHeP also engages with patients and provides consulting services, education and training. Its activities are chronicled on a blog known as the CHEP Communicator.
The latest recipient of RED Fund proceeds approved by CREED is the Big Goal Summit, part of an effort in northeast Indiana known as the Big Goal Collaborative. It aims get 60 percent of the residents in an 11-county area served by Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne to attain some level of labor market-valued credential, degree or certificate by 2025.
The Summit hopes to bring together at least 150 employers, educators, economic development professionals and community leaders from throughout northeast Indiana. The event is set for Oct. 18, with the $2,500 Red Fund grant being matched by $3,900 from the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership.
CREED members also heard a brief update from IU’s Government Relations office. CREED’s next meeting is set for Nov. 2 at University Hall on the IUPUI campus.