City of Waco: A Collective Impact Approach to Economic Development

Report National Resource Network Waco, Texas May 11, 2016 Economic Development

In August 2015, the Network Resource Network made its largest single investment in technical assistance in a year-long engagement in Waco, Texas. Based on its assessment visit, the Network determined that Waco had already identified its key challenges and had key stakeholders at the table, with Prosper Waco (a collective impact initiative) serving as the backbone organization that bound the solutions and stakeholders together.

The Network, the City and Prosper Waco partnered to identify strategic projects where the experience and expertise of the Network could move the City and its partners forward in addressing core challenges in the areas of Health, Financial Security and Education. The Network also realized that to support success, Prosper Waco and the City needed to achieve significant wins – and needed to move from planning and discussion to action.

Over the course of a year, the Network built on the community’s work to date to begin addressing challenges in three key areas:

  • Financial security – developing community, economic and workforce development strategies and assisting in implementation of a summer high school internship program for Opportunity Youth
  • Health – supporting efforts to reduce reliance on emergency rooms for primary care
  • Education – aligning library, parks and recreation and other City resources with efforts to improve kindergarten readiness

In each of these areas, the Network provided specific technical assistance across a broad range of collective impact initiatives:

  • Recommendations for key investments, funding and interventions in Downtown and ring neighborhoods (detailed in this presentation and accompanying report)
  • Planning support for the reopening of the East Waco Library Branch
  • Operational support for Fire Department efforts to divert frequent 911 system users to health care alternatives
  • Strategic support for investment in East Waco Park and revitalization leveraging CDBG funds
  • Technical support of Prosper Waco’s efforts to develop a Workforce Readiness Credential in partnership McLennan Community College
  • Strategic planning to identify how Prosper Waco goals could be integrated with the City’s work; and
  • Implementation support for the development of the Waco Foundational Employment Network to increase employability and income for Waco’s lowest earning workers.

The Network’s final report included recommendations for immediate and long-term interventions to: redefine the relationship between Prosper Waco and the City; initiate a Budgeting for Outcomes (BFO) process; target East Waco as a model for place-based development; identify opportunities to secure Federal funds for projects with wide-reaching community impact; align city resources and operations with the goals of Prosper Waco to support youth literacy and improved educational outcomes; move key initiatives from planning to implementation to sustainability; and institutionalize Prosper Waco to ensure that they remain the leading organization to address Waco’s challenges. This document provides a comprehensive overview of the Network’s work and next steps for the city.

The Network’s engagement team in Waco incorporated support from multiple Network consortium partners, including Enterprise Community Partners, PFM, Jobs for the Future (JFF), and HR&A.

City of Waco: A Collective Impact Approach to Economic Development