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Neighborhood Allies Convenes Partners to Improve the Local Capacity Building System

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On Thursday, December 15th, non-profit partners gathered to hear the results of a 6 month analysis of the capacity building system.

20161215_085633-1The partners that attended the event each play a significant role in building the capacity—the knowledge and skills—of neighborhood organizations and residents. During the six months preceding the event, lead consultants Ivette Mongalo-capacity-building-mtg_2Winston and Seth Hufford had met with a number of different partners across the system. First, they convened capacity building partners to gain a sense of direction and understanding about the system. Then, they completed one-on-one interviews with capacity building partners and conducted focus groups with organizations receiving capacity building services as well as funders and government representatives. The result was a report delineating the perspectives among each group as well as recommendations on possible interventions to improve the system overall.

The task of the capacity building partners at the gathering was to provide honest feedback about these recommendations and share possible next steps for the partnership. Though some shared possible 20161215_082435-1solutions to improve the system, partners found their most important role of improving the system was to change the culture in which they solve problems and work together. To work together across organizational lines, partners agreed that we must trust each other and work towards the goal of improving the lives of vulnerable people. Ivette Mongalo-Winston, one of the consultants leading the analysis, reflects on the meeting, “it was amazing to watch people be open about the vulnerabilities and challenges of working together, yet be open to the possibility of it being different this time. It left me feeling optimistic and encouraged that all of these organizations with mixed and complicated histories could really come together and start working  together differently. ”

In addition to looking at the system, Neighborhood Allies welcomed partners to provide feedback and input about our role in the system. This honest and critical trust-building exercise, brought a level of vulnerability to our organization, but, Presley Gillespie, President of Neighborhood Allies, capacity-building-mtgnotes “the most important discoveries and breakthroughs can only happen when we have honest, hard conversations as leaders. This exciting new collaboration represents important advancement in the community development intermediary system in Pittsburgh.” By being vulnerable, Neighborhood Allies and its partners have started the process of building trust within the system. In the months ahead, Neighborhood Allies and partner organizations will work together to define what working differently means while keeping them accountable to improving the lives of vulnerable people.

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