When I meet someone, they usually ask what I do for a living.
“I lead a nonprofit called Edgewater Collective…,” I answer.
Depending on who I am talking to, describing our work can be complicated and since November it has been developing as we find our niche in the crowded nonprofit world.
From the beginning we have known that our focus is children and families living in the Edgewater area. Then we began to realize that a large number of the children in our Edgewater schools actually live in Lakewood and Wheat Ridge, so our focus grew to include a slightly larger geographic area.
As I connected into the community, I realized that our area had a lot of resources and programs, yet they weren’t connected to children and families. Our area didn’t necessarily need another program. We needed someone to connect assets and needs and help the system work together. From my work with children, youth and their families in churches I knew that focusing on one age group was not enough. We needed to help families from cradle through school and into college.
I read an article from the Stanford Social Innovation Review on the idea of cross sector collective impact and knew immediately that this was our niche.
So this summer I transitioned our beta programs from last year (Saint Tank, Math Mentors and Reading Buddies) to other community leaders.
Going forward, Edgewater Collective will not run programs, but will focus solely on leading collective impact efforts around cradle to career education.
We believe that by aligning all community stakeholders around a common vision and keeping them accountable to goals and indicators,
all children can succeed from cradle to career.
Instead of focusing on a few stories of transformation limited to a few children and their families, we are focused on changing the education ecosystem in our area.
This is hard work. It takes strong leadership to focus our community partners on the common vision and guarding against the political distractions of education in Jeffco. Students in our area have a lot of roadblocks to success and it will take creative and new solutions to help them succeed into a career.
I’m excited for the momentum that is already happening in our area. We are all aware of the gravity of the situation and want to see things change.
This is my dream job and every day that I look in the eyes of students in our area, I know our work is meaningful and powerful!