Partnering for Results Institute at Johns Hopkins helps groups work together – B2C
In a world where government programs are incresingly implemented by the private sector, including universities, the need for strategic partnerships has never been greater.
Forming a successful partnership is often a complicated and difficult process, yet little instruction is available, Lester M. Salamon, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies in Baltimore, Md., said.
“None of the training seems to acknowledge that programs perceived by the public as being government-run are frequently run by other institutions,” Salamon said.
To fill the void with training “to equip leaders in government, business and the nonprofit sector” with practical skills and perspectives needed to manage these intersectional partnerships, Salamon and his colleagues at the Center for Civil Society Studies created the “Partnering for Results” Institute.
The institute is aimed at non-profit staff and board members, corporate philanthropy professionals, foundation officers, government managers, business professionals, and community leaders. Priority is given to teams of at least two or three people from different organizations involved in, or planning, a partnership.
“We try to forge a group sense from these different sectors,” Salamon said.
Though not specifically targeted to leaders of higher learning, educators certainly can benefit from the experience, and several have done so already.
“The whole notion of developing effective partnerships across multiple disciplines is very helpful to higher education,” Carol M. Wessner, manager of nonprofit management training and education programs at the Center for Civil Society Studies said. “Partnering with business, government, communities, and funders, and relating their needs into the curriculum development, will help build a market for higher education and help to provide a much needed service to those entities.”
During the institute, which lasts four days, participants learn the rudiments of partnerships and their stages of development.
“We generally downplay the heavy theoretical part of it, and emphasize the pragmatic theory of partnerships and the evolution of partnerships,” Salamon said.
Using simulations, case studies, and experiential activities, participants are taught prerequisites for successful partnerships, how to recognize and overcome constraints on multi-sector partnerships and strategies, and evaluation methods for partnerships.
The goal, Salamon said, is to use what they learn to “produce sustainable changes” in their institutions or communities.
For Cheryl Moorehead, the institute training couldn’t have come at a better time.
“A colleague called it to my attention, saying `It sounds like the kind of work you do,'” said Moorehead, director of the Center for Economic Development Entrepreneurship and Technology at Eastern Kentucky University. Designed to serve as a conduit between campus resources and economic development needs of local communities, organizations and businesses, the center is funded by the federal government’s Economic Development Administration.
“I looked at the institute program, and bells and whistles were going off, and I thought, `Finally, I’ll be able to go somewhere for a whole week and be immersed in learning about the partnering process,'” Moorehead said. “It was just too good an opportunity to pass up.”
Moorehead already had been involved with a major economic development revitalization effort in Eastern Kentucky, region with “some of the country’s most profound challenges with unemployment and illiteracy.”
The project focused on how to link the region’s secondary wood manufacturing industry, a relatively untapped resource, with its primary wood industry, which Moorehead said “was basically cutting mature forests and exporting them like a third-world nation.”
Although Moorehead was not in charge, she did help make connections between government, private sector, and other groups leading to “hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars generated in the economy” through the establishment of the Kentucky Wood Products Competitiveness Corp.
“It’s a wonderful example of success that was born out of partnerships … and we did it all by the seat of our pants,” Moorehead said.
“We have stayed tangentially involved with secondary wood manufacturing, and are now looking at how we can fund productivity centers that we can bring to campus here in partnership with the KWPPC to train the industry about cutting-edge technology.”
When she heard about the Partnering for Results Institute, Moorehead, now director of her center, was planning its next major project–forging partnerships with Berea College, long regarded as a focal point for Kentucky arts and crafts.
“We had found out tourism was declining and the Appalachian artisan legacy was in jeopardy … and wanted to spur interest to create a new statewide artisan center in Berea, which would reinvigorate tourism,” Moorehead said.
The idea for the artisan center emerged during a grassroots forum organized by the Berea city government and local artisans shortly after a tornado struck the region.
“Students and faculty asked us if we could look into developing a community center using the university’s resources initially, then contributions from the state and city.
“We helped germinate the partnerships and provided the staff resources to get it off the ground,” she said.
As a result, construction will begin in February 2001 for a $7.4 million community center to sell artisan products, a restaurant, and state-of-the-art tourist information services. In addition, a two-year college is being built in Hindman, Ky., to train artisans whose products can be sold at the center and promoted through a Web site using the school’s geographic information services.
“It was originally designed for mapping physical infrastructure types, but our lab (at Eastern Kentucky University) is adapting it for cultural asset management,” Moorehead said.
The entire project, she added, is “an outgrowth of a process that was very much aided by attending the Partnering for Results Institute …
“In some ways (the institute) assigned words to the things I already knew, but it also opened up new resources about partnerships, which I think has enabled me to become a better teacher, and share what I’ve learned with other leadership programs in Kentucky.”
Of particular interest to Moorehead were institute conversations on how to inspire transformational partnerships.
“These are based on the double helix model, where more than one thing is happening at the same time, but they come together at different points and affect the path, basically transforming the work and the people,” Moorehead said. “So rather than having a linear view that we’re all staying the same and going through this step-by-step process, you are embracing the process itself as a transformational tool.”
Learning about transformational partnerships also helped Paula Bozoian develop a plan for a Brockton, Mass., neighborhood.
“The institute presented a really fluid, dynamic view of the neighborhood,” said Bozoian, director of the Center for Social Concern at Stonehill College, a fouryear liberal arts school in Easton, Mass.
Bozoian attended the institute with a newly hired assistant director and a community organizer.
“We had never worked together before,” she said. “Being away from our work settings really helped us coalesce and focus on what this particular neighborhood needed.”
The project dealt with ways to help Cape Verdean immigrants, using college and community resources. More than 50 Stonehill students, including education majors, have since taken part in such activities as helping high school students improve language skills by providing them with much needed educational supplies, creating a three-language cookbook with younger Cape Verdean children, and donating presents to children in foster care.
“I can’t change everything, and probably can’t fix much,” Bozoian said. “But these kids are always going to remember the Stonehill students.”
Salamon said one of the major advantages of the Partnering For Results Institute is “you get a really intense exposure to a body of ideas that have been pretty carefully put together in terms of the content and the style. There’s a lot of interactive work in a very structured package, and you get to interact with people in a variety of settings.
“The disadvantage is you have to make a significant commitment to get away for this intense time period. We are not offering a degree, although we do have a degree program that does pick up some of these ideas. So, it’s a little less academic, which may be another disadvantage to some people.”
Originally conceived as a program aimed at U.S. participants, the institute has generated international interest, and a third of each class so far has come from abroad.
The 20 participants attending the first institute in Baltimore, in June 1998, included representatives from Ghana, The Netherlands, Romania, Albania, and Rwanda. Participants from Poland, El Salvador, Slovenia, Romania, Turkey, and Slovakia were among the 18 people attending the second institute, in September 1999.
Salamon believes the heightened foreign interest is a “sign that partnering has become the wave of the future.
“The era of big government is over,” he said, “and there is a growing desire to find cooperative approaches to solving public problems.”
The next Partnering for Results Institute will be in spring 2001. For information, call Wessner at (410) 516-5389 or go to the Web site at http://www.jhu.edu/~ips/ Programs/ThirdSectorProject/partnering2000.html.
Karen Singer is a freelance writer based in Orange, Conn. She has written for a variety of publications, including The Hollywood Reporter, ADWEEK, and The Licensing Letter. She has a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, and also has done research in Japan as a Fulbright scholar.
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