Jeff Edmondson on Getting Communities to Work Together to Get Results

Posted August 24, 2017, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

As the founder and executive director of StriveTogether, Jeff Edmondson built a network of communities — now 73 strong and counting — committed to using collective impact to support the academic success of every child.

Today, as the managing director of the Ballmer Group, Edmondson is leading a new charge: Deploying data-driven, innovative and scalable strategies that promote economic mobility and a brighter future for kids and their families.

In this episode of CaseyCast, the Foundation’s Lisa Hamilton asks Edmondson — a thought leader on collective impact — about his time at StriveTogether. They discuss the lessons that Edmondson learned during his 12 years at the nonprofit’s helm, including the art of failing forward and the benefits of starting small.

Here’s what Edmondson had to say.

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What You’ll Learn in This Episode

  • The two defining characteristics of StriveTogether communities.
  • The four key differences between collective impact and collaboration.
  • How the Results Count™ approach has helped advance StriveTogether’s work.
  • The need for data—and what kind—when advancing large-scale social change.

Conversation Clips

In Jeff Edmondson’s words…

“Our hope is that, over time, we can start showing communities how they can stop pointing just at early childhood centers, or just at school systems… and start to own the role that they play.”

“A lot of communities have tried to do collective impact where they hire four or five staff to be that backbone organization, and they figure that those four or five staff are somehow going to achieve collective impact. The biggest thing we've learned is that can’t happen.”

“The biggest misstep — or maybe it's a misconception — is that data collection is all about the technology tool.”

“It takes courage to disaggregate data and set targets for those populations that may be further behind and that we know we need to focus on.”

Resources That Received a Shout-Out

About the Podcast

CaseyCast is a podcast produced by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and hosted by Lisa Hamilton, executive vice president and chief program officer. Each episode features Hamilton talking with a new expert about how we can build a brighter future for kids, families and communities.

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