BY ERIN CORNELL
At the Help Me Grow (HMG) National Center, we are so encouraged by the growth of our National Affiliate Network each year, expanding to new states and communities, engaging more and more partners, and most importantly, serving an increasing number of families with young children. However, we know we are just scratching the surface in terms of reaching those who could most benefit from our work. These are the questions we find ourselves asking:
Are all families that could benefit from HMG receiving access to the model, and if not, how can we reach these families?
How do we maximize the spread and scale of the Model to ensure enhanced access for families and sustainability for the communities we serve?
Where can we focus our efforts that will result in the greatest impact in terms of expansion, reach, and positive supports to families?
In the short term, the answer to these questions involves the launch of a new strategic planning process. We recognize and embrace such planning as imperative to ensure long-term sustainability for the HMG Model, which holds so much promise for strengthening early childhood systems across the country. Our vision is to help create comprehensive systems that can seamlessly support children and families across all child serving sectors to enhance short- and long-term outcomes, especially for children most in need.
As mentioned at the 11th annual Help Me Grow National Forum, held virtually in August, we are fortunate to partner with the Bridgespan Group in our strategic planning process. Bridgespan is a global consulting firm that specializes in nurturing non-profits and other organizations to create social change. We so appreciate the J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation for funding this effort.
But we know that we can’t do this alone as a National Center. We must solicit input from our affiliates in order for this process to be successful.
During one of the breakout sessions at the Forum, Elise Tosun and Jerry Petit-Frere, of Bridgespan’s Boston office, detailed the five-month process they plan to take to engage HMG affiliates in this effort. Their efforts will include surveys, focus groups, and interviews in which they hope to uncover answers to the following questions:
- What is the full potential of the HMG Model and where are we currently situated on that path?
- What goals should the National Center prioritize to drive growth and impact?
- What will it take to fuel demand for adopting and implementing the HMG Model and how should the National Center provide support?
- What evidence base should the National Center establish to measure success and impact, recognizing that HMG is a system with multiple audiences at the local, state, and national levels.
Insights from our affiliates have proved to be invaluable to us over the years, as they have informed our thinking in a number of areas. We are excited to leverage your insights as we further explore priority areas, which include the growth of the Model, enhancing the model in existing communities and states, and better understanding our impact through the development of a formula to assess the return on investment of HMG, as well as the identification and usage of additional metrics.
There are many factors that influence our trajectory going forward. These include:
- the availability of local, state, and federal funding streams;
- the accessibility and reach of HMG within communities, which includes establishing an understanding of the populations we are not currently serving;
- the degree to which we are effectively communicating our impact on families and what consequences would exist should the HMG Model not be available to families and communities; and
- how the National Center defines and supports goals related to strategic growth through local, state, and national implementation.
The contributions and insights of affiliates are necessary in order to establish a strategic plan for spread and scale that is keen, practical, powerful, and impactful. So we are excited for this next phase of the project, as Bridgespan begins the process of reaching out to garner input and insight. We must understand what the current realities are in your states related to funding landscapes and political factors, and in order to develop a strategic plan for growth that serves the Network well, we must hear directly from you on your priorities and the types of resources you need to attain your own growth goals.
This is a critical time for the future of Help Me Grow. We are excited to celebrate how far we have come and are committed to making sure we strengthen our strategic foundation to ensure our collective work continues to set children and families up for success in the future.