Today’s post is written by Brian Cognato, PPI’s Technical Assistance Program Director.
One of the roles of PPI’s Technical Assistance program is to zoom out and determine what holds true across all our sites. Each of the locations where we work is unique, of course, but we’re always on the look out for new innovations or best practices that we can refine, roll out and continue to adapt for a deeper impact.
The Jerusalem All Stars are one example of leveraging partnerships to scale.
We wanted to pause and spotlight one of these emerging best practices today because it’s been a hot topic here on “From the Field” recently. Like most of what we do, it looks slightly different in each location, but we can roughly summarize the idea as “leveraging partnerships to scale.“
What does that mean? PPI is not the type of program that will work directly with millions of young people in one year any time soon. We prioritize transformative change, and to achieve that, we believe you need to invest in transformative programming – long-term, focused and intentional. Just as a player can’t master ballhandling or jump-shooting without spending plenty of time with a ball in their hands, we believe you can’t change the status quo of a community without spending lots of time with your target audience.
Sounds like a good strategy, right? And it is, but it is not without its challenges, one of the most obvious being that such an intensive program is difficult to bring to scale directly. Dramatically expanding our programs from their current direct reach of about 3,000 to 30,000 or 300,000 would require far more funds and far more coaches and staff. While we would love that challenge, it isn’t realistic to expect it any time soon.
Enter “leveraging partnerships to scale.” What that means in theory is doubling down on the investment we’ve already made in kids and communities to allow them to have the maximum impact on others. What that means in practice is something like the Jerusalem All Stars, leveraging the platform provided by the Israeli National Basketball League to bring this remarkable team’s success to a much broader audience. Or something like the Interface Olympics and Game of Three Halves, teaming with the governing bodies of the most popular sports in Northern Ireland to provide integrated opportunities to youth who might not ever have them otherwise. Or, in South Africa, asking our coaches and staff to facilitate activities at other community events, spreading our methodology more widely.
Two of our keys to success over the years have been an ability to stay focused on our goals of bridging divides, developing leaders and changing perceptions and a commitment to absolute excellence – whatever we do, we do well. Leveraging partnerships allows us to continue to focus and continue to ensure quality across all our work, while still reaching ever greater numbers. You’ve already seen a great deal of it this summer, and look out for more in the coming months.