It’s long been said that if you want to go quickly, you go alone. But if you want to go far, go together.
Yesterday’s Focus on Wilmington showed the power of going together. It was DCF’s first community engagement session this year, and brought together 14 collaborative programs in the city, with a hundred citizens, leaders and activists – to share innovative work and break down silos.
Dorrell Green, recently named superintendent of the Red Clay School District, spoke about the Dual Generation Center at Stubbs Elementary School, a partnership between the state and Christina School District – a new center that will focus on early education but provide support for a broad range of family issues. Said Green to WDEL. “No one entity can do it alone. I just think this [event] is a good example of folks coming together to support, as a whole.”
From the Stubbs project to the comprehensive plans of REACH Riverside to break the burdens of inter-generational poverty in the Riverside Community, to the work of the Wilmington Leaders Alliance and Generations to reinvent employment pipelines, we heard from many of Wilmington’s most inspiring collaborative efforts. You can read about the programs that were highlighted here.
During the event, participants said things like, “I heard about things I’ve been wanting to do and learned they are already happening, and being done better,” and “This was a great way to learn about how funding aligns with community needs and a great way to connect with leaders.” And “I just didn’t know about this program, and it’s exactly what I’m looking for.” Collaboration is indeed well practiced in Wilmington and Delaware, with leaders like the Wilmington Community Advisory Council and United Way doing heavy lifting.
DCF organized this event as one of many activities to build on the work of our fall 2018 community leadership lecture from Bob Putnam, talking about his book Our Kids and about the opportunity gap in America. During the lead up to that event, and afterward, we heard repeatedly from friends and colleagues that folks wanted to know more about what’s going on and how to plug in. Even those of us most involved keep finding new programs that we didn’t previously know about, and which are great opportunities for partnerships.
There is so much tremendous work going on. And everybody knows that we need to work together. Most of us are working together. This program tried to broaden the connections. And it’s not the end. DCF is committed to helping bring people together to strengthen partnerships up and down the state. Watch for more about future focus conversations.