This report — a thought paper rooted in 47 interviews with industry leaders — highlights what we’ve learned about utilizing peer networking to advance recent place-based initiatives. It then shapes these lessons into 10 solid strategies for successfully incorporating peer networking into the new multiyear, mutli-million dollar Building Healthy Communities project.
The idea behind this massive initiative is simple: healthier communities = healthier children
Findings & Stats
Terms to Know
In place-based initiatives, organizers funnel resources and activities into a specific neighborhood or city. This location-specific work often utilizes a decision-making approach called peer networking, which aims to foster interactions among residents to achieve a commonly-valued objective, such as community change.
Learning From the Past
This report spotlights 10 good practices and 10 challenges pulled from a study of Annie E. Casey Foundation’s peer networking efforts. One move to model? Encouraging both personal and professional interactions among participants. One potential hurdle? The costly nature — both in time and money — of this approach.
This paper shares 10 recommendations on how to successfully incorporate peer networking into the Building Healthy Communities initiative. Two of these suggestions are: 1) hire a peer network coordinator who oversees activities across all 14 sites; and 2) establish a way for sites to share best practices on peer networking and place-based work.
The three components of successful peer networking are time, truth and trust. Networks flourish if they allow sufficient time for peer-based activities to mature, share information and data about their operations in a transparent manner and offer a safe environment for participants to have honest and open discussions.
Two Tools to Know
Gathering data on peer networking can help spur process improvements, motivate participants and justify the approach to funders and other stakeholders. This report introduces two tools used to evaluate peer networks: The Monitor Institute’s Network Effectiveness Diagnostic and Development Tool and Hershey Cause Communications’ Network Health Scorecard.
Foundation and Government Focus
Readers will learn about the two types of place-based initiatives: foundation-led and government-driven. In addition to spotlighting specific federal programs, this section shares five tips for funders in the field, 15 markers of success and key lessons learned regarding place-based work.
Statements & Quotations
What peer networking does is to provide a platform for structuring that problem-solving for greater intensity and efficiency.
The ultimate outcome of peer networking as part of a place-based initiative is to contribute to significant community change.