Earlier this year The Center for Community Solutions asked subscribers to our e-newsletter “5 Things You Need To Know” to weigh in our current work, our future direction and our impact. More than 350 people responded and represented a wide variety of constituencies – Community Solutions board and staff, volunteers, policy makers, social service providers, funders, etc. as well as members of the wider community. In this instance, you told us what Community Solutions needs to know. The survey was one part of a broader effort to develop a strategic plan that will guide us for the next three to four years and will be finalized in early 2020.
Nearly 90 percent of respondents view Community Solutions as a “non-partisan” organization.
One consistent idea expressed through the survey was that we need to bring Community Solutions closer to the public through active involvement with the community; moving beyond being just a think tank and being more engaged at the community level where policy meets people. You also urged us to boost our communication efforts so that the general public and others know more about our research and policy work. Collaboration was also seen as key to making a bigger impact “moving the needle” on key issues affecting Greater Cleveland.
While 80 percent of you agreed that Community Solutions has a positive impact on the community, you don’t like phrases like “think tank” – as one respondent said “don’t just think about it do something about it!”
While 80 percent of you agreed that Community Solutions has a positive impact on the community, you don’t like phrases like “think tank” – as one respondent said “don’t just think about it do something about it!” You suggested we should take a larger role in coalescing like-minded institutions, and fostering greater collaboration. You asked us to provide more suggestions on how to apply Community Solutions’ research in your everyday work, and one respondent suggested that we should “assist leaders in developing strategies for real impact and solutions.” Several of you complimented us making “complicated policy questions understandable. Not by dumbing down content, but by presenting it with good writing, telling detail and strong graphics.”
Respondents were most familiar with our weekly e-newsletter, our community fact sheets and profiles, and our state policy and budget advocacy. Growing numbers are aware of our Cuyahoga County budget advocacy work, and our consulting services for non-profits.
Advocacy is seen as a key Community Solutions competency.
Advocacy is seen as a key Community Solutions competency. Respondents see us as “being a leader for advocacy” by continuing policy and budget advocacy at the state level but also helping “community organizations to coordinate advocacy efforts;” and “teaching other organizations how to advocate and collect/use data to inform their advocacy.” We are also seen as an organization that facilitates “meaningful dialogue at the state and local level between elected officials, service providers and advocacy organizations.”
Working more locally was also identified as a key opportunity moving forward; respondents believed Community Solutions should take the lead locally to provide more policy direction to elected officials and policymakers at the city and county levels. Respondents also told us that we should at same time support the “mobilization of grassroots involvement on priority issues” impacting Greater Cleveland neighborhoods and families. You reminded us that “big changes can and need to happen” at a local level.
Respondents believed Community Solutions should take the lead locally to provide more policy direction to elected officials and policymakers at the city and county levels.
Another major theme in your feedback was our current fractured and overly partisan political environment – 1 in 4 of you believe that the current political environment will be a challenge to Community Solutions moving forward. At the same time nearly 90 percent of respondents view Community Solutions as a “non-partisan” organization. One respondent said “in this era of extremism, Community Solutions must be seen as an important public policy resource and not get cast otherwise.” Another respondent felt that Community Solutions has “a liberal bias to a degree, that is ok and may even be necessary given their mission,” but they went on to say that “I still feel like they always report the truth regardless and always have the best interest of those they advocate for as the number one priority.”
We asked you where we should focus our resources and energy in the next several years. One person commented that we should identify whether we are “a think tank that reports on what is, or prepares the ground for what is next.” A third of you identified three key Community Solutions focus areas for the future; helping low-income Ohioans move out of poverty, improving behavioral health (both mental health and substance use is disorders), and reducing inequality of income and opportunity. Coming close behind were protecting Medicaid coverage and provider reimbursement, economic development, job training, and employment, improving racial equity and improving services for older adults.
Thank you for the enthusiasm you expressed for our work, and staff. I will report more details on our new strategic plan early next year.
I want to thank everyone who responded to the survey and to issue an open invitation to anyone who wishes to share feedback on our work or direction by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for the enthusiasm you expressed for our work, and staff. I will report more details on our new strategic plan early next year.