“Our partners all have a shared history of centering our work on youth and recognizing the many assets they bring with them,” says Skye Louis, coordinator of AVNU (pronounced “avenue”), an open-learning platform where young people aged 13 to 29 can access workshops, mentorship, and networks. “At the same time, we are keenly aware of the complexity of barriers that youth are facing and the way these barriers are integrated into existing social and institutional structures. For years, our work has been focused on building capacity for youth to overcome these barriers; it’s a great approach but it can be frustrating to see that the larger patterns remain the same. Collective Impact represents a promising way to address some of these systemic issues directly. That way we can shift some of the responsibility for change from the shoulders of individual youth and bring some focus on the larger systems that are creating barriers in the first place.”
Many organizations who have traditionally tried to tackle these issues on their own and have moved towards using the Collective Impact approach find the experience daunting. The sheer complexity, time, and resource commitment required for a successful Collective Impact initiative can feel overwhelming, but most find the experience well worth it.
“We came away from the workshop with more questions than we started with, which is a good thing,” reports Louis. “The workshops have helped us define where we are at in the process, identify where our existing strengths lie, and understand which areas we need to develop in order to move forward successfully.”