• Today’s nonprofit professionals need to learn quickly and continuously to help their organizations keep pace with change and accomplish their mission.
  • Nonprofit associations play a critical role in envisioning learning needs and producing learning programs that help members solve real-world challenges.
  • CHS helps associations develop and deliver collaborative learning programs that are are cost-effective and directly responsive to member needs.
  • Explore below to learn about developing an association learning collaborative.

A association learning collaborative is a planned program for engaging people from multiple organizations in learning and action to accomplish their goals.  CHS supports each step in the process, including design, development, delivery, and evaluation.

Topics. The learning topics for a collaborative can be focused on any aspects of organizational strategy or community strategy.

Participants. Participants may include individuals or teams from member organizations.  There are no hard and fast limits on the number of participants., and the mix of participants can be decided based on the topical focus and learning objectives.

Duration. A collaborative can run from a few weeks to months, depending on the scope and nature of the project.

Structure. A collaborative typically includes a series of virtual or in-person group learning sessions, coaching and consultation between learning sessions, and an online resource center where participants can access a wide range of content (data, tools, practice guides, etc.). Subject matter expertise is provided by strategically chosen instructors, with CHS consultants facilitating coaching, consultation, and access to online resources.

Peer Learning. In addition to learning from expert instructors and consultants, participating members learn from each other as they share breakthroughs, challenges, and lessons learned. The opportunity for peer learning is a key part of the value proposition for a collaborative.

Real-World Impact.  Most importantly, participants engage in applied learning by using what they learn in the collaborative to solve real-world challenges in their organization or community,

An association learning collaborative can be designed to address a wide range of possible topics, such as:

  • Team development
  • Leadership development
  • Service/program design
  • Program evaluation
  • Performance monitoring
  • Quality improvement
  • Organizational change
  • System change
  • Community needs assessment
  • Community outreach
  • Community collaboration
  • Demonstrating community value.

CHS partners with associations to produce collaboratives that help participants accelerate learning, improve performance, and elevate impact. Here are five recent examples of association collaboratives supported by CHS.

1. PCMH Development. A statewide collaborative focused on patient-centered medical home (PCMH) development for teams of professionals from community health centers.  (24 organizations, convened by a state primary care association.)

2. Charitable Clinic Standards. A statewide collaborative focused on developing a set of performance standards for charitable clinics. (7 organizations, convened by a state charitable clinic association.)

3. Demonstrating Community Value. A statewide collaborative focused on demonstrating the community value of community behavioral health organizations.  (30 organizations, convened by a state association of community behavioral health organizations.)

4. Interprofessional Collaboration. A statewide collaborative focused on interprofessional teamwork and leadership development, for teams from hospitals, health systems, medical practices, community health centers, community behavioral health organizations, pharmacy organizations, health professions training, and social support organizations.  (40 teams over six cohorts, convened by a partnership between a state medical society, a state association of hospitals & health systems, a state nursing association, and the state public health agency.)

5. Organizational Leadership.  A statewide collaborative focused on leadership development for teams from community health centers. (20 teams over two cohorts, convened by a statewide primary care association and supported with federal grant funding).

CHS applies a proven process to help associations produce collaboratives that work.  We listen carefully to define the project parameters, then we work with you to tailor the collaborative using the nine-step process outlined below.

  1. Focus. Choose a focus (or purpose) for the collaborative.
  2. Engage. Engage prospective participants in the collaborative.
  3. Define. Define specific goals for learning and action.
  4. Design. Design the collaborative format including length of time, the types of learning supports, sources of subject matter expertise, and mix of virtual vs. in-person activities.
  5. Develop. Develop collaborative learning resources that may include data, tools, training, technical assistance, coaching, strategic guidance, and subject matter experts.
  6. Facilitate. Facilitate collaborative dialog through feedback surveys, virtual meetings, and in-person learning sessions.
  7. Support. Support learning and action by providing research, expert insight, data, tools, technical assistance, coaching, and technical assistance.
  8. Optimize. Optimize performance by monitoring progress and fostering dialog about member breakthroughs, challenges, and next-step strategies.
  9. Demonstrate. Demonstrate impact through strategic evaluation of changes in learning, action, and impact.
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