by Jennifer Perkins, Director of Network Engagement for StriveTogether, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks.
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Nine leaders from Tulsa, OK, including superintendents from the area’s four largest school districts and investors committed to supporting Tulsa youth, traveled to Chicago last March to learn more about collective impact. This team represented ImpactTulsa, one of 43 exploring communities from 19 different states who came together at the 2014 StriveTogether Exploring Communities Convening.

At the Exploring Communities Convening, ImpactTulsa and other teams just starting to bring their communities together to improve education outcomes for kids listened and learned from advanced partnerships on a similar path. Throughout the two days, they learned from StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network members, discussed action steps with StriveTogether staff and explored the Theory of Action, StriveTogether’s nationally recognized collective impact approach.

This proved to be a critical milestone in ImpactTulsa’s journey, accelerating their pace through the Theory of Action and propelling them towards implementing key steps for sustainable cradle to career civic infrastructure.

“Had it not been for the Exploring Communities Convening, there is no way our partnership would have progressed the way it has,” ImpactTulsa COO Monroe Nichols told me.

After attending the Exploring Communities Convening, the delegation went back to Tulsa with a deeper understanding of what it takes to implement collective impact with rigor. Armed with new knowledge and shared direction, the partnership thoughtfully crafted foundational components for their work, including a community vision of success for every child and indicators to measure progress. ImpactTulsa also actively engaged the community and wrestled with the topic of equity.

These accomplishments enabled ImpactTulsa to become the 52nd community partnership to join the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network in October 2014. Shortly after joining, ImpactTulsa reached another key milestone with the release of its first annual community report card, showing the deep commitment to and shared accountability for improved results for children in their community.


The amount of progress the partnership has made in only one year is impressive and inspiring. But what’s even more astounding is how ImpactTulsa has intentionally implemented the Theory of Action within their local context.

This month, representatives from ImpactTulsa will return to our annual Exploring Communities Convening in a completely different role than in 2014. They will share lessons learned from their work in Tulsa with other communities interested in pursuing quality collective impact.

“I am extremely excited to share our Tulsa experience in coaching sessions this year,” said Nichols. “We learned so much in 2014 and our students are better for it. It is humbling and thrilling to share that experience with others as we all work to uplift excellence in education and student outcomes across the country.”

We look forward to connecting with more exploring partnerships March 24-25 in Indianapolis and witnessing more communities take steps toward building a community-wide vision for supporting every child, cradle to career.

Learn more and register for the 2015 Exploring Communities Convening