Taking Changemaking Into Their Hands
The vibrant Mayfair neighborhood of East San Jose is a historical, working class cultural hub drawing immigrants from Latin American and Asian countries. Four established and respected community organizations—led by women of color—realized that they would be much stronger and more effective working collaboratively to maximize their impact and prioritize community needs. The Si Se Puede! Collective now empowers youth and families through culturally-relevant early education, family engagement, community organizing and cultural activism, and direct social services.
The Collective’s action-oriented strategic plan formalizes their union, using a model of organizational collaboration and interdependence. It’s based on our extensive experience in collaboration support and our research in best and promising practices for collective impact. The effort was also informed by our deep understanding of the intentionality, brave self-analysis, and constant vigilance required to advance equity—a practice extending far beyond simply having all parties present at the table. During regular meetings and retreats, we applied the principles of collective impact to help the Collective self-assess their collaborative functioning and make clear agreements for accountability, communication, conflict resolution and operational protocols.
An accompanying implementation plan includes evaluation and performance measures, as well as MOU Agreements for the Collective and for external partners. The Collective now works together to achieve community sovereignty, challenge existing systems and shift power back to the hands of the community—moving the needle on multigenerational issues of equity.