Community of Practice

In 2013, our strategic planning year catalyzed the evolution of our Network from a collaborative group into a community of practice.  Innovation pilot projects facilitated and strengthened cross-sector partnerships and seeded novel approaches to common challenges.  Our community of practice also supported the co-creation and design of innovations between resident partners and community-based agency partners with shared accountability.  These collective actions of the network allowed for a planning phase that moved from blueprint design and visioning to learning through action and efficient piloting of proposed ideas.  We coupled community-based participatory research with improvement methodology to support an iterative and transparent improvement process.

Our innovation projects use an action-oriented learning approach that also serves to build collaborative efforts. More important than any individual project is the potential to support shared learning and collaboration across sectors, within and across neighborhoods, and between community agencies and residents. 

This model also strengthened our ability to engage novelty in research-practice partnerships across sectors of health, education, family services, economic stabilization, and legal advocacy and encourage translation and enhancing evidence-based practices to promote child well-being and support protective factors within setting-level interventions.

Network Functions

Vital Village Networks strives to enhance existing efforts to promote child, family, and community wellbeing.  Our Network is working to build capacity and develop leadership with existing resident-led community groups.  In this effort we have helped bridge policy, research, and practice to advance equitable systems of care and education.  We have also identified common challenges for resident-led groups and our support includes: conflict-resolution, collaborative leadership, facilitation, meaningful use of data, quality improvement, evaluation, coaching, and using the network to support resource connections.  We also served as a liaison for programs at Boston Medical Center that desired to be based in the community, collaborate with community-based organizations, or engage community residents in co-designing healthcare services and health systems.

Network Connection Meetings:  The goals are to promote shared learning and collaboration by creating a space that allows for connections and building relationships and collective responsibility.

Healthy Network Workshops: Support skills and improvement tools to enable partners to grow in capacity and as leaders.

Our Emerging Concept of Place

We understand social settings to be dynamic systems.  A central goal of our network is to develop hubs of innovation within and a learning system across neighborhoods.  Through our planning process we embraced unique characteristics of each community and the connections between these neighborhoods, and the fluidity and mobility of residents between them for health and education services, social networks, enrichment, and life experiences.  Our focus has evolved to include not only the footprint of each neighborhood, but the corridors—routes of social networks, commerce, and information—between these places.  As we develop strategies to improve child, family, and community wellbeing we are exploring how network capacity would be enhanced by strategies that deepen penetration of ideas locally, and spread of network capacity along corridors.

Our National Footprint

We have expanded our national footprint to create the Networks of Opportunity for Child Wellbeing (NOW) Innovation Forum and Learning Community.  NOW is a national network created to foster peer learning that empowers community-based efforts to succeed. The goal is to support the success of communities, community coalitions, and their regional or state-level partnerships to eliminate systemic barriers and lift up community-driven solutions.