At first, we would meet regularly. We had committees and subcommittees. Now, everyone would just prefer to focus on getting the work done. This lighter-touch process works for us and keeps partners engaged.
Lisa Early, Director, Families, Parks, and Recreation, City of Orlando
Focus areas: Juvenile crime, teen pregnancy, and academic performance in Orlando's highest-poverty, highest-crime neighborhood, Parramore. Tracked metrics have included percentage of students at grade level, kindergarten readiness, and juvenile crime.
Founding date: 2006
Leadership (backbone): Parramore Kidz Zone (PKZ), an initiative of the Orlando Families, Parks, and Recreation Department
Results at time of 2012 study: From 2006 to 2010 percentage at grade level increased by 21 percent; during the 2008-09 and 2010–11 school years kindergarten readiness increased by 15 percent; from 2006 to 2010 juvenile crime dropped by 81 percent.
Most recent results: Percentage at grade level results trending in positive direction (change in state test scoring makes comparisons difficult); during the 2010–11 and 2011–12 school years kindergarten readiness increased by 10 percent; from 2011 to 2014 juvenile crime (specifically juvenile arrest rate) decreased by 24 percent.
Parramore's experience over the last three years: While PKZ remains focused on the same set of key issues in the low-income neighborhood in which it works, it has evolved over the last several years in how it engages participating organizations. As the collaborative has moved from planning to implementation, it has significantly streamlined its structure and processes. It convenes less frequently to talk strategy or big picture and instead holds meetings as needed, focusing mainly on service delivery.
Because the PKZ's primary supporting organization has been the City of Orlando, the collaborative has been housed in the city's Families, Parks, and Recreation Department. Now, with 13 staff members funded by the city and supplemented with state, United Way, and philanthropic grants, it is becoming more embedded into the city government infrastructure. Even with this connection to the city, PKZ understands that collaborating with agencies across sectors remains a key to the PKZ approach. For example, its Baby Institute, which provides postnatal parenting education for parents in the neighborhood, encompasses the Early Learning Coalition of Orange County (which runs the initiative), a local charter school that provides the site for workshops, University of Central Florida (whose faculty helped design the curriculum), philanthropy (the Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida), and the City of Orlando (which provided seed funding, ongoing flexible funding to cover costs that can't be covered by restricted state and philanthropic funds, and office space).