A is for Alliance-Building

Day three of the September SCALERS series: 

Alliance-building: “the effectiveness with which the organization has forged partnerships, coalitions, joint ventures, and other linkages to bring about desired social changes.” (Bloom & Chatterji, 2009)

This piece was originally published on the blog 
Accelerating Achievement and is bring reprinted with permission. Accelerating Achievement features news and research from the Developmental Education Initiative, an effort by MDC, a nonprofit in Chapel Hill, N.C., to scale up effective remedial education practices at community colleges and states that were early participants in Achieving the Dream, a national community college reform effort. DEI is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Lumina Foundation.


SCALERS Series: A is for Alliance-Building

We all need somebody to lean on. Alliance-building, the third driver of the SCALERS model, focuses on the importance of a network of individuals and groups that will support your scaling effort. 

As defined by Paul Bloom and Aaron Chatterji, the model’s creators from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, alliance-building is “the effectiveness with which the organization has forged partnerships, coalitions, joint ventures, and other linkages to bring about desired social changes.” Colleges need the same ability to create partnerships and coalitions, engaging the necessary parties to support the expansion of a particular strategy.

Start by conducting an analysis of potential alliances that you could build to increase the likelihood of successful scaling up. These can be existing or new relationships, and can include individuals or groups representing faculty, staff, students, and departments. It might be people outside of the college, too. Consider parties that will be a champion for the work, as well as ones that are likely to resist change. If you invite those who could present roadblocks to participate in the planning process early on, you may prevent them from turning into opposition.

Once you have identified the necessary parties, develop a plan for engaging each group or individual. Secure commitments of implementation support from as many as possible. To do this, you’ll need to have an individual on your team who has the necessary positional authority to convene and invite new allies to participate. As the program expansion begins, put a system in place to provide for regular convenings to keep allies informed about program progress and changes. Your alliance-building plan should be informed by your plan for the other SCALERS drivers, especially communicating, demonstrating impact, and sustaining engagement.

We’ve blogged previously about an example of effective alliance-building. In April, Karen Scheid, director of the Developmental Education Initiative for the Ohio Board of Regents, described Ohio’s efforts to align adult basic and literacy education (ABLE) programs with developmental education. This effort has required the integration of the state policy team, the colleges, and the local basic education providers. As Karen told us, this alliance has already started to bear fruit: “Since the launch of the pilot at the end of July 2010, 22 of Ohio’s 23 community colleges and their ABLE partners have submitted agreements for colleges to make ABLE referrals for students who score below an agreed level on a placement test.”

Check back this afternoon for a guest post from Gay Clyburn, associate vice president for public affairs at Carnegie, to learn more about how the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching is using alliance-building to perfect and scale an initiative to develop a one-year pathway from remedial math to college statistics.