Collaborate, Cooperate, Innovate

August 4, 2011 | By Liza Casabona | 1 comment

Increasingly, federal agencies are stressing partnerships and collaborative approaches, not only in their calls for funding proposals, but also in terms of how some of its programs are administered. The Obama administration has rolled out a number of multiagency initiatives, including a new rural council, to capitalize upon individual agency strengths. Strong partnerships can also be the key to helping you win a grant.

From a practical stance, in an environment where more groups are fighting for fewer resources, it makes sense. Why not leverage the expertise and resources of multiple organizations, agencies and people to make projects as strong as possible and give them the tools to succeed?

Playing up your collaborative efforts or partnerships can help you win awards. And taking advantage of those relationships once you’ve received grant funds can help your project fulfill its mission. Win/win.

Of course, it’s important to identify the roles and responsibilities of each project partner for organizational efficiency and to avoid running afoul of grant requirements or funders’ rules. Four other tips to keep in mind are to:

  • identify the strengths, assets, talents and skills of each partner and clearly define how they will interact in the coalition;
  • outline any matching or in-kind contributions from partners, and include proof of commitment in your application and any post-award documentation;
  • regularly assess partner commitment, involvement and satisfaction; and
  • include members in priority-setting to establish a constant feedback loop and prevent communication problems.

The Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services office recently profiled an interesting partnership. The COPS office is partnering with local communities and an anti-hate crime movement called Not In Our Town [http://www.niot.org/front] in a community engagement campaign structured around a new PBS documentary about local efforts to address hate crimes.

The newest Not In Our Town documentary, “Not In Our Town: Light In the Darkness,” tells the story of collaborative efforts by civic leaders, area organizations and the Suffolk County, New York police force following a series of attacks against Latino immigrants in 2008 that culminated in a murder.

The COPS office said it plans to leverage the Sept. 21 broadcast of the documentary to launch a multiyear campaign promoting safe communities and highlighting ways that local law enforcement and communities can work together. The campaign kicks off during the Not In Our Town National Week of Action from Sept. 18 to Sept. 24 and the COPS office has resources available for law enforcement groups that want to participate.

What successful collaborative partnerships have you witnessed? Let us know – we might decide to profile it in Local/State Funding Report.

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