RRP is working on a new initiative called the Community Connection Collective, to improve the state infrastructure for welcoming and resettling refugees in Arizona. RRP is convening an effort to bring together compatible organizations that wish to join in an alliance toward this end. This project aspires to center the lived experiences of people arriving in Arizona as refugees as the primary change agents in their resettlement process through improving the way information and resources are shared collectively and defining common goals and related activities that increase social inclusion and empowerment of the people most impacted by resettlement. RRP will aim to engage up to ten organizations in the first phase of the project and anticipates building on the initial work throughout 2020 and beyond.
During the final CCC Year Two meeting in June, three ELT providers were invited to join the Cohort to provide subject specific insight and solutions based ideas around their areas of work. The meeting focused on a English Language/Education Gaps Workshop Discussion. Conversation continued around the existing barriers that ELT and other refugee providers face to offering accessible and effective English language and education courses, as well as the intersection of these barriers with employment, cultural, digital literacy, and federal funding limitations. Possible solutions were discussed and Cohort members were assigned to individually brainstorm goals for next year as homework.
During the May CCC Cohort meeting the Cohort focused on discussing specific challenges and solutions within the chosen topic area of English Language/Education. Cohort members engaged in a focused group dialogue around the existing barriers that providers face to offering accessible and effective English language and education courses, as well as the intersection of these barriers with client digital literacy limitations. It was determined which external stakeholders the Cohort will invite to tackle identified barriers.
The meeting focused on discussing specific challenges and areas to target within the broader topic of English Language/Education. Cohort members engaged in group discussion around the existing barriers that refugees face to English language and education access, and around which external stakeholders may help tackle such identified barriers if they were brought into the Cohort. Homework for each Cohort member is to complete a “Refugee Resettlement Service Provider Roadmap” document with a list and accompanying explanation of the services that they provide during each milestone period of refugee resettlement.
In the March CCC Cohort Meeting the Cohort had break-out sessions and group discussion focused on mapping overlap in gaps identified by Cohort presentations and narrowing down a single gap to focus on moving forward. Break-out sessions to discuss the fourth CI Principle, continuous communication. The majority of the meeting the group engaged in a lively discussion about which gap refugees are facing is the most significant and should be the one to focus on initially. Feedback was solicited from Cohort members through poll questions during the meeting, including on which gap should be tackled first–for which English Education was selected by the majority.
The February the Community Connection Collective (CCC) Cohort meeting was divided into two parts. The meetings focused on the identification of gaps in refugee resettlement through individual Cohort presentations. Each organization presented separately on the two most significant gaps they identified in refugee resettlement, and the Cohort engaged in conversation about the identified gaps following each presentation. In the part one meeting the Cohort dived deep into the third Collective Impact (CI) Principle: mutually reinforcing activities that capitalize on particular organizations’ strengths. Break-out sessions to discuss the third CI Principle were conducted and Cohort feedback from the past five meetings was presented and discussed.
In January’s CCC Cohort meeting the focus was on the importance of a data-driven approach and the second Collective Impact Principle–having shared measurements of success–in serving as the foundation for all subsequent Cohort efforts. Break-out sessions to discuss cohort members’ thoughts on what the top three gaps in refugee resettlement are. A presentation on data collection and analysis in relation to identifying gaps and developing solutions for such gaps was also given by RRP’s Human Services Program Development Supervisor. Each Cohort member is now going to choose two top problems, for which they will collect relevant policies/laws and data to present at the following meeting.
In December’s CCC monthly meeting the Cohort went through break-out sessions and group discussions. The meeting centered around the importance of building trust and implementing the first Collective Impact Principle–having a common agenda–as the foundation for all subsequent collective efforts. The Cohort also discussed the Statement of Commitment for all members of the Cohort which identifies the Cohorts goals, guidelines, responsibilities, and standards to uphold in this initiative. The Cohort also requested for RRP, as the backbone organization, to have a Statement as well to show that we collectively are committed to the initiative.
For the third CCC Cohort meeting of Year Two, there were seven out of 11 of the organizations represented in the meeting with a total of 20 people. This meeting focused on organizational mapping to determine common goals, overlapping areas in services, and limitations which would prohibit members from participating. This exercise aimed to help the Cohort assess joint opportunities, and ultimately, determine a priority target for change.
This monthly meeting included nine out of the 11 Cohort Organizations. This meeting we went over the topics discussed and reviewed in the September monthly meeting. The goals of this meeting was to educate the cohort on the federal guidelines which shape the refugee resettlement process in Arizona. This is to establish a baseline for further collective problem solving in order to address current gaps and challenges within the refugee resettlement community.
Due to COVID-19 the Year Two grounding sessions with the Community Connection Collective Cohort was postponed due to the needs and impact of the pandemic. The Year Two Kick off meeting was held in September with ten out of the 11 Cohort Organizations. The objective of this meeting was to have the cohort meet one another, develop Guiding Questions in order to maintain the CI Principles, reground in the goals of this initiative, and go over the next steps for the year.
The Year Two goals are:
For Year One of the Community Connection Collective (CCC) Initiative the goal was to coordinate diverse efforts and resources in order to positively improve refugee resettlement here in Arizona. This was done through developing the grounding of this project with the Collective Impact principles and an Equity and Inclusion framework. RRP also completed internal Equity and Inclusion training through Indigo Arizona. A cohort was also developed within the first year. A cohort of 11 various organizations combined of Resettlement Agencies, Ethnic Community-based Organizations, other Community Organizations, and Faith-based Organizations. Due to COVID-19 we were unable to begin grounding sessions with the Cohort as planned. However, the goal is to begin virtual meetings in Year Two.
Collective Impact Principles:
Importance of a CCC Cohort:
The Arizona State Refugee Resettlement Program and Indigo Arizona co-hosted a webinar on meaningful language access. Many refugee clients continually face challenges, barriers, and even discrimination due to language access. Being able to identify important policies that impact language access will allow us to better advocate and educate our refugee clients and partners. To see the powerpoint presented at this webinar and learn more, click here!
Every person takes a different approach to how they lead, learn, and work together with other people. To learn more about how those traits and more play out in your life, click here to take the 16 Personalities Test!