While we often focus on the power of philanthropy as an investor in social change, we’d be remiss not to acknowledge that the U.S. Government is our country’s biggest investor in social programs. The Obama Administration had made significant investments in cross sector collaborations to achieve better outcomes in communities through “place-based initiatives…efforts to support communities in a comprehensive fashion, helping to empower them to address their needs holistically.”
The effectiveness of federally-funded place-based initiatives in achieving positive community outcomes depends on the policies from which they were created, as well as the capabilities of the federal staff who are tasked with supporting and collaborating with those in communities.
The report outlines five areas of competency that are crucial for federal staff engaged in place-based work: providing innovative leadership; working [effectively] within the federal structure; working with communities; communication and interpersonal skills; and other skills, including the ability to navigate between broad issue understanding and topic expertise and the ability to understand and use data.
These competencies are also relevant for funders and intermediaries outside of government working with cross sector collaborations, as well as federal employees engaged in cross sector work: “Looking more broadly beyond the current place-based initiatives, the competencies, supports and conditions discussed in this report may well help this Administration and future administrations achieve the lofty goal of influencing how the entire federal government does business and becomes a more effective partner to communities across the country.”