August 31, 2023
Spotlight on Collaboration
To work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor
The Fry Foundation has learned that when our grantee partners come together to solve common problems, good things can happen. The core idea is that working together—developing shared goals, designing solutions, and monitoring progress—gets us closer to realizing shared goals. And ultimately, we all do a better job of serving those we want to serve. We see the strongest collaborations:
- Address complex challenges that can’t be tackled by a single organization.
- Create efficiency by sharing resources and expenses.
- Bring new and diverse ideas to the table which encourages innovation and creativity.
- Amplify voices and influences policy changes.
- Promote learning and shared best practices.
- Lead to stronger and more sustainable programs and organizations.
Because of this, support for collaboration among grantees has been a critical funding vehicle for the Fry Foundation. These collaborations are not planned by the Fry Foundation instead they emerge from conversations and grantee convenings hosted and facilitated by Fry Foundation program staff. Over the years, we have seen these collaborations advance shared goals and result in improved outcomes across our programs. Here we share a few examples of Fry Foundation supported grantee collaborations.
In 2019 the Foundation helped establish the South Side Population Health Collaborative. This collaboration of five health centers is working to address issues specific to Chicago’s south side neighborhoods. These include difficulty recruiting and retaining primary care providers, highly transient patient populations, lack of specialty care services, and lack of high-quality hospitals. A group of clinics serving south-side residents built a system to share access to each other’s electronic medical records so that a patient’s healthcare treatment plan can be accessed and updated regardless of where a patient seeks medical services on the south side. This makes it easier and more likely that patients will adhere to their treatment plans. The need for shared medical records was identified when the clinics looked at their patient rosters and saw the overlap in patients. The overlap results when patients move residents to different areas of the south side due to housing needs. The collaborative clinics are now testing a model for contracting with shared specialty care providers.
(Participating Fry Foundation grantees are Chicago Family Health Center, Christian Community Health Center, and Beloved Community Family Wellness Center.)
In 2010, the Providing Access Toward Hope and Healing (PATHH) collaboration was formed to address persistently long waiting lists for mental health services for children who had been sexually abused, trafficked, or subject to serious trauma. Some children lingered on waiting lists for six to nine months before accessing mental health care. Starting with ten organizations, PATHH now includes 26 nonprofit treatment providers and four groups of private clinicians who collaborate to provide high-quality mental health services for this group of extremely vulnerable children. PATHH partners have developed an enduring infrastructure to serve these children including; a client triage system used by all the participating clinics to assess risk levels among clients based on severity and duration of abuse; a centralized waiting list system to match clients with the first available opening from among the service providers; a therapy support group for families who are waiting for individualized services; a learning community for PATHH members; and an evaluation and tracking system.
(Participating Fry Foundation grantees are the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center, Community Counseling Centers of Chicago, Juvenile Protection Agency, La Rabida, and YMCA Rise Center.)
The Community Based Organization Collective (CBOC) is a collaborative of 16 workforce development organizations, including seven Fry Foundation grantees, working together to connect job seekers from Chicago’s south and west side neighborhoods to employment. These organizations provide access to job resources, skills, and opportunities for south and west side residents. The CBOC offers a one-stop shop for employers to connect with and hire traditionally overlooked talent. Since its founding in 2019, the CBOC has worked to build trust among its members and has developed a standardized way to assess and prepare job seekers for employment opportunities; a shared approach to engaging with employers; common approaches to connecting job seekers with employer partners; a shared inventory of member services; and a plan to track and use data to inform system change. The CBOC has relationships with over 100 employer partners and each year has connected 300 individuals with full-time employment.
(Participating grantees include Fry Foundation grantees the CARA Collective, Chicago Urban League, Heartland Alliance, Instituto del Progresso Latino, Jane Adams Resource Corporation, North Lawndale Employment Network, and Safer Foundation.)
Since 2015, the Foundation has supported Enrich Chicago. Enrich is a collaborative of arts organizations and funders working together to improve racial diversity and inclusion in the sector. Enrich was founded to engage in shared learning about the root causes that perpetuate racial, cultural and funding inequity and inhibit growth and stability in art forms and organizations that reflect communities of color. Since its inception it has doubled in size from 24 to 48 organizations. Activities include anti-racism training, member affinity groups and learning spaces, and progress reports that monitor how members and the sector are progressing toward goals for racial equity. Its 2017 “Portraits of Inequity” report provided benchmark information for Chicago’s philanthropic community about racial equity within the arts sector. It provided insights into the racial and ethnic makeup of funders, arts and culture organizations, arts and culture audiences, and funding trends for arts organizations. It found that on average, BIPOC-led organizations receive 50 cents for each dollar that white-led organizations receive. This prompted many foundations, including the Fry Foundation, to review their grantmaking and work to address this funding inequity.
(Fifteen members are Fry Foundation grantees: the Albany Park Theater Project, Hubbard Street Dance, Hyde Park Arts Center, Ingenuity, the Joffrey Ballet, the Lyric Opera, Marwen, Merit School of Music, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Poetry Foundation, Puerto Rican Arts Alliance, Red Clay Dance, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Snow City Arts, and Urban Gateways.)
The Fry Foundation recognizes that working across organizations can often feel harder than going it alone. But we have learned observing these collaborations that shared commitment, thoughtful organization and collective action are more likely to move the needle than going it alone. We commend these organizations for their willingness to reach beyond their organizational walls to learn and test new approaches to serving Chicago residents.