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Collaboration saves time and money

Economic growth doesn’t occur in a vacuum. Support in the critical areas of health, education and financial independence serves as a springboard to success, not only for individuals, but throughout our valley’s economic landscape as well.

Businesses are uniting with nonprofits and government entities to turn shared vision – based on hearty evidence – into collaborative change.

This community impact model for change saves time and talent, and forges outside-the-box partnerships. These relationships stretch across sector boundaries, in fact.

And they’re not the type of relationships you see every day.

In the Treasure Valley Education Partnership, leaders from businesses, foundations, nonprofits, school districts, early education and higher education are working to coordinate the area’s resources and institutions to ensure at least 80 percent of Treasure Valley students go on to college and/or career/technical education by 2016 and beyond. Strategic work groups will identify and expand strategies that maximize student achievement.

Some partnerships are bringing together companies that often are seen as competitors.

Many Treasure Valley banks, along with United Way, are climbing aboard a locomotive of collaboration called Bank On – Treasure Valley, which will launch this summer. Based on a model that’s proved successful throughout the U.S., Bank On will provide checking account opportunities for some who normally would be denied.

Shapers of Bank On have rallied around details such as mandatory financial education. They have a shared community vision: To help the working poor avoid check-cashing systems that consume huge portions of their hard-earned money.

Last fall, Idahoans made a big step toward improving the state’s fourth-worst-in-the-nation suicide rate by raising money for and opening a Suicide Prevention Hotline. The issue was vital enough to elicit early funding not only from foundations, government departments and United Ways throughout the state, but from companies such as Citi Cards, Wells Fargo and Saint Alphonsus Health System.

If you’re not convinced about the benefits of collaborative service, consider the P16 Caldwell Education Project. This comprehensive project, which comprises components from preschool all the way through high school, matches multiple funding sources with public and nonprofit specialists.

Funders thus far have included the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation, United Way of Treasure Valley, the Whittenberger Foundation, the Troxell Fund, the Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation and the City of Caldwell. After recognizing the potential social, educational and economic impact of P16, multiple businesses have pledged financial support: Crookham Company, Republic Services and U.S. Bank.

P16 strives to increase the number of students who complete postsecondary education and attain a meaningful career. Diverse financial support enables innovative, hands-on, day-to-day work by Caldwell School District and Treasure Valley Family YMCA staff. Various groups provide in-kind volunteer support.

This evidence-based project funnels resources from various groups into one spot, instead of all that planning and work being done at multiple organizations, totally independent of each other.

After just one year, widespread success was observed from one end of the education continuum to the other. Here’s perhaps the most impressive statistic: Caldwell High School’s rate of seniors “going on” to higher education increased from 39 percent in 2010-11 to 48 percent in 2011-12.

From high-rise corner offices to nonprofit break rooms and beyond, that’s the type of efficiency everyone can appreciate. It’s the type of data that inspires people to research, prioritize, collaborate and innovate.

Jake Alger is the communications manager at United Way of Treasure Valley and a Boise Young Professionals member. He can be reached at jalger@unitedwaytv.org.

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About Jake Alger