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Collaboration College 2.0 teams make impact on Nashville community

Kim Chaudoin | 615.966.6494  | 

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The Center for Nonprofit Management, Lipscomb University, Baptist Healing Trust and The HCA Foundation and local businesses partners hope to encourage collaboration through unique program

A group of Nashville-area leaders is on its way to making an impact on the community through collaboration by participating in the second convening of the unique Collaboration College program.

Recently seven teams comprised of representatives of nonprofit and government organizations were selected to participate in Collaboration College, an innovative initiative designed to encourage collaborations among a cross-sector of organizations in Middle Tennessee. The program is organized by Lipscomb University, the Center for Nonprofit Management, c3/consulting, HCA and North Highland Worldwide Consulting and made possible through funding by Baptist Healing Trust and The HCA Foundation.

Last fall, more than 150 nonprofit agency leaders, board representatives and public or private partners interested in learning more about collaboration and collective impact attended Collaboration 101 – From Collaboration to Collective Impact: Principles, Case Studies and Best Practices event. In February, teams submitted proposals of collaborations or collective impact initiatives to be considered for further development through the Collaboration College program.

Earlier this month, seven teams were selected to move forward with visioning, strategic thinking, conflict management, business results and other areas critical to the success of their collaborative project. These teams will receive 50 hours of consulting services targeted specifically to the developmental needs of the project. Each team is matched with two consultants from strategic consulting partners c3 consulting, North Highland Worldwide Consulting and HCA to develop its proposal.

The yearlong program continues throughout the school year as teams will be led through a curriculum and consultative experience, resulting in the top teams receiving financial awards. The teams with the best collaborative ideas will receive a $25,000 grand prize and two $10,000 finalists awards from The HCA Foundation and Baptist Healing Trust.

On March 11, the seven teams came together at Lipscomb University for a daylong workshop — Collaboration 201 — focusing on building skills and competencies essential to successful collaboration and collective impact. Teams also met their consulting partners at the event.

“There is a great need within the community for collaboration,” said Toni Cole, consulting partner from HCA. “I want to be a part of this process, to help make a difference in the community. It takes an investment of time on the front end. But in the long run it will help all of us—taxpayers, businesses and the human good.”

“The ability to impact the community is very important to us,” said Ryan Tabor, managing consultant from c3 consulting. “We feel very fortunate to live in such a wonderful, thriving community. What excites me about Collaboration College is that it’s about finding innovative ways for nonprofits to work together for the greater outcome. This program aligns perfectly with the philosophy of c3 as well as me personally.”

“We are always looking for ways to give back to the community through our profession,” said Anna Boon, consulting partner from North Highland Worldwide Consulting. “It is always rewarding to give time to programs that have sustainable outcomes. Collaboration College is designed to have long-lasting benefits. It is a sustainable model that is supported and encouraged and will strengthen this community. Nashville has an incredible amount of nonprofit activity, and there is a great benefit to groups coming to the table to collaborate.”

Participants said they are looking forward to discovering how collaborations will not only impact their organizations but also the community.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to have a program that gives us the time and opportunity to work together on a common problem and tapping into a variety of resources,” said Tom Starling, of the Mental Health Association of Middle Tennessee. “I think it has the potential to be a big benefit to the community.”

“The opportunity to have facilitated conversation has been great,” said Jennifer Drake, of the Family Center. “I can feel the excitement of our team members as we begin to dissect the issue [of child abuse and neglect] and break it into components that are easier to navigate and discuss.”

Collaboration College 2.0 teams and areas of focus are:

  • Tennessee Scholars, Kiwanis Club of Nashville and the Urban League of Middle Tennessee are partnering together to prepare cohorts of underrepresented students for post-secondary education and careers through academic support, career awareness and service learning.
  • Nashville CARES, Neighborhood Health and Street Works are collaborating to coordinate and integrate HIV prevention and other support services.
  • Members of the Safety Net Consortium, which includes Tennessee Disability Coalition, Saint Thomas Health Services, Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center, Neighborhood Health, Faith Family Medical Clinic, Family and Children’s Service and the Mental Health Association of Middle Tennessee, are joining together to increase the number of vulnerable community members connected to primary care homes.
  • The Metropolitan Homelessness Commission, The Mayor’s Office of Innovation, Nashville General Hospital, Metro Public Health Department, National Health Care for the Homeless Council, Room in the Inn and Neighborhood Health are collaborating to link hospital and social services systems in order to create a pathway to housing for high utilizers of emergency services who are chronically homeless.
  • The South Nashville Family Resource Center and Vanderbilt University’s School of Nursing are partnering with community organizations to address food insecurity for refugee and immigrant families in South Nashville.
  • The Family Center, Prevent Child Abuse and the Metro Public Health Department are collaborating to prevent childhood trauma and provide every child with the opportunity to thrive and prosper.
  • Rocketown of Middle Tennessee, Youth Encouragement Services, Salama Urban Ministries and Barefoot Republic are developing an inter-agency system of support that will impact the social, emotional, spiritual and academic needs of youth in Nashville.

For the next three months, teams will develop their initiatives with coaching and support from their consulting team. On June 2, each team will present its initiative in a mock presentation to a panel of judges who will give feedback to each team on ways to improve or enhance their presentations and initiatives. Teams will present their final initiative on Sept.1 and winning teams will be announced at the Center for Nonprofit Management’s Salute to Excellence on Oct. 22.

The Collaboration College program began in 2011 and gave six teams of nonprofits the direction, resources and encouragement they need to collaborate successfully. Six teams made up of leaders from 18 nonprofits in Middle Tennessee, participated in the yearlong program. The majority of collaborations are still delivering effective outcomes today.  From the creation of a back office shared services model that saves youth service organizations 18 percent of their administrative costs to the development of a shared staff position to provide culturally appropriate behavioral health services, the collaborations developed through Collaboration College met existing needs and empowered local nonprofits to expand their impact.

Collaboration College was born out of an event in January 2009 – Collaborate for a Cause – hosted by Lipscomb’s Institute for Law, Justice and Society then-housed in the College of Professional Studies and CNM’s previous efforts to encourage nonprofits to consider collaboration as a means to expand their reach in the community.

For more information visit or contact Lipscomb’s College of Professional Studies at 615.966.1100 for more information or to register.