Shasta College is thrilled to announce a new partnership with the McConnell Foundation that will bring cross sector leaders together to increase educational options in the north state.  North State Together is a new initiative that builds on the wonderful work of Reach Higher Shasta and Expect More Tehama and will support additional community collaborations in Trinity, Siskiyou and Modoc Counties.

The Shasta College Foundation will be the fiscal agent for North State Together, a $2.5 million dollar, three year grant awarded by The McConnell Foundation.  This grant will allow us to create a regional, “Cradle to Career” partnership where leaders from education, business, philanthropic, nonprofit, civic, and faith communities join together to improve education success for every child through a data-driven, collective impact approach.  North State Together will support partnerships in each county to focus on increasing and aligning educational options across academic segments.  The goal will be to increase educational options at all levels with ultimate impacts on overall economic and community health.

North State Together will provide direct funding to counties and also establish a “backbone support team” that will help Reach Higher Shasta, Expect More Tehama and the emerging collaborations in each county.  Backbone support traditionally consists of a dedicated staff separate from the partner organizations who can plan, manage, and support the partnerships through ongoing facilitation, technology and communications support, data collection and the many administrative details required to help the partnerships run smoothly.

Collective Impact research clearly states that a backbone support system is required to maximize the work of community collaborations.  Mark Kramer, a founder of the Collective Impact movement states, “Coordination takes time and none of the participating partnerships have any to spare.  The expectation that collaboration can occur without a supporting infrastructure is one of the most frequent reasons collective impact movements fail” (Mark Kramer, FSG, 2011).

It is truly a testament to Reach Higher Shasta and Expect More Tehama that they have accomplished all that they have without a formal support and funding structure.  North State Together will allow these counties to take their work to the next level.  An additional role that the “backbone support” will provide pertains to training and professional development.  Our counties are unique, but there are many issues that we are each trying to tackle on our own that might be better served if we work together.  The goal of North State Together will be to balance community autonomy with broader support so that local leaders can create local solutions that directly connect to community needs.