Why Community Solutions?

Our nation is facing some of the greatest challenges in a generation. While our nonprofits, philanthropists and other social sector leaders have stepped up to fill gaps, increase their impact and serve more people in need, we know that the social challenges we face today are too complex for any single actor to fully address on their own. We know that dramatic, community-wide progress on a problem requires the engagement of all sectors in a community: nonprofits, business, philanthropy and government pulling together, in the same direction.

The encouraging news is that this kind of collaborative progress is happening in a number of communities around the country.

A analysis completed by The Bridgespan Group for the White House Council for Community Solutions identified 12 communities across the country where there has been 10 percent-plus progress on a community-wide metric, and another 100-plus communities that are making progress in this direction. Since that time, much more research has validated that when communities come together, in well-structured multi-sectored partnerships, change is possible.

In 2012, a cross-sector leadership group convened by the White House examined this situation, and released several seminal reports that served to launch the Forum for Community Solutions at the Aspen Institute. Among these was the White House Council on Community Solutions report Community Solutions for Opportunity Youth, which called for innovative, place-based, collaborative solutions to reconnect the 6 million opportunity youth in the United States at that time. (Opportunity youth are young people aged 16 to 24, who are neither connected to education nor to the workforce.)

Successful community collaboratives require resources and support for their infrastructure needs, as well as the opportunity to engage with like-minded partners to share ideas that will amplify their collective impact. To address this need, and build on the work of the White House Council, the Aspen Institute launched the Forum for Community Solutions. You can find out more about our work here; we also hope you will reach out and get engaged with our work or in your local community.

Melody Barnes describes the early history of the Forum for Community Solutions: