Our work, which spans societal issues, is rarely addressed by a unified organization or sector, for that matter. Rather, effectively addressing health, education and other human service issues requires collaborative work involving public and private stakeholders, individuals and communities, and executives and clients. We know that impact increases exponentially if funders and the communities they serve address challenges at their source—in many cases this means finding a system-based solution.
Investing in systems change initiatives like Reclaiming Futures, which addresses juvenile crime and substance abuse issues in the schools and the criminal justice system before teens fall into a cycle of life in prison, has been part of our portfolio for the last decade. Working on these initiatives has informed our staff and their work to develop our understanding of what “systems change” really meant.
We can’t “direct service” our way out of some of the entrenched problems facing our communities. Change can’t always happen at the individual level. We have to look at the system as a whole and determine how to approach what’s often a multi-faceted problem to improve individuals’ lives.
Now, we are committed to continuing that work, collaborating on county-level partnerships and cross-sector projects that truly integrate various stakeholders in creating and implementing solutions to the challenges low-income North Carolinians face.