PelotonPosts is a monthly interview with a member of PelotonLabs, a coworking community in Portland’s West End. This month, Peloton’s founder Liz Trice caught up with Karma Crawford, the lead consultant with CoSoGrants.com.
Nonprofit Consultant Karma Crawford
Karma: I’ve worked for 20 years helping non-profits improves services and increase resources to address issues related to mental health, substance abuse, domestic violence, aging in place, and access to health care in rural areas.
For the last year, I’ve been working with the United Way of Eastern Maine to help address deeply entrenched social problems by recognizing common goals and fostering collaboration across sectors. I also work with the New-York-based Ready To Work Collaborative which brings together policy makers, workforce intermediaries and employers nationwide to re-skill or up-skill workers, and meet businesses’ needs.
Much of this work is based on the Collective Impact model, which provides a framework to build collaboration across sectors. For example, let’s say you want to increase graduation rates. First you set a goal: for example, by 2020 we will have increased our graduation rate by X%. Then you get community organizations, businesses and schools to agree to that. And then you look at best practices nationally.
The best practices might include things like, make sure parents are literate, make sure kids have proper nutrition, make sure everyone has housing. . . It involves a lot of players.
Then you implement programs that best practices say will affect those interim measures, and you start tracking the data. It’s not a process that happens in a year. It takes a long-term commitment not just on the part of the funders and organizations, but also the businesses and volunteers and everyone in the community.
Liz: You’re one of the longest-term PelotonLabs members.
Karma: Being a member at PelotonLabs has given me professional camaraderie and structure for my work. We all have different focus, but we have in common an entrepreneurial spirit and we face similar challenges. My current accountability group is fantastic. Five of us have been meeting for several months, and we’re helping each other grow. When I have a lot of work I use the quiet space to focus, but when I’m going through change I like to work in the more social space so I can get feedback on what I’m thinking about. Having people in different industries here has taught me a lot about design, and marketing, and technology.
Going forward, I’m looking for opportunities to work more with local non-profits and funders to develop the collaborations that can address whole systems.