ROLES UNITED WAYS CAN PLAY
In communities where an out-of-school time coalition or network does not already exist, United Ways are often well positioned to bring together key partners and form out-of-school time coalitions:
- Many United Ways have significant experiences as trusted conveners, able to bring together stakeholders with divergent perspectives and interests and move them towards common ground and shared purpose.
- United Ways have well-established relationships in communities—with local businesses, faith and community-based organizations, philanthropic institutions, civic and municipal leaders, local government and institutions (schools, museums, libraries, etc.)—and are able to broker relationships and connect these stakeholders in meaningful ways.
- United Ways are mobilizers and strategic investors of community resources (human and fiscal), able to harness them to support change efforts in education, income, and health.
In communities with existing out-of-school time networks or coalitions, your United Way can use these capacities to help to accelerate and/or strengthen the work. Some examples include:
- If the existing coalition is not sufficiently diversified—your United Way can bring additional key stakeholders to the table – especially the business community and school leaders.
- If the existing coalition needs stronger facilitation to move the work along—your United Way could fill this role, or identify other community-based resources able to do so.
- If the existing coalition is too provider and program focused—your United Way might lend its skill in public engagement and advocacy to developing a stronger policy and advocacy platform.
- If the existing coalition does not have the resources to make capital investments to improve quality—your United Way could help leverage community resources to invest in system wide improvement practices.
- If your coalition has challenges getting access to student data from local schools, your United Way can use its relationship with school leaders to broker data sharing agreements.
- If your coalition is weak on strategies, your United Way can help to strengthen them so that out-of-school time programs in the community are more effective in producing positive outcomes for participants that are aligned to broader community goals.
- If your coalition has challenges engaging volunteer support to add to existing program capacity—your United Way can leverage your workplace campaign and other volunteer initiatives to connect a "second shift of adults" to programs in the community.
The general idea, if your United Way is working on this issue in a community that already has an out-of-school time coalition, is to figure out the unique role you can play and the value add that you bring to the table. Avoid re-inventing the wheel!