Team IMPACT is an organization that matches chronically ill youth with college athletic teams for friendship, mentoring and inspiration. In September 2016, five years into the organization’s life, Team IMPACT found themselves in a “breakout” moment- feeling ready to solidify who they are and who they can be as an organization, versus who they were in their infancy. What started as a singular commitment to improving the quality of life for sick children had expanded to a model that offers real and lasting value to athletes and athletic communities. The organization’s new CEO, Seth Rosenzweig, needed help capturing the opportunity and translating it into one that resonated with stakeholders and paved a path for future growth. Team IMPACT hired Mission Partners to support the development of a strategic plan – including defining a new Mission and Vision, conducting perception research, defining a set of SMART goals, and fleshing out a 3-5-year strategic plan that will guide the organization’s activities and messages into the future. During Phase 1 of the project, Carrie and Carolyn conducted market research through IDI’s (In-Depth Interviews) and identified the key differentiators from other similar organizations in the marketplace so that Team IMPACT was positioned to lead with its unique assets. We led the staff in a planning exercise that identified a critical, unmet need – to develop and implement a Theory of Change for the delivery of a complex set of services, with an outside evaluator. With its model codified, Mission Partners was brought back for Phase 2 of the engagement, kicking off by facilitating a strategic planning retreat that yielded five key strategic initiatives that will propel Team IMPACT forward. As we finish Phase 2 of the process, Carolyn and Carrie are leading the team in fleshing out the key actions within the strategic plan that the organization will undertake in the next 3 years, putting meat on the bones in such areas as building regional staff infrastructure, planned growth, communications and marketing, model implementation, and growing the financial resources to ensure that thousands of children with chronic and life threatening illnesses and the athletes who serve them live a life of hope and purpose.

Platform of Hope

In the rapidly gentrifying Adams Morgan neighborhood of northwest Washington, DC, six local organizations—Capital Area Asset Builders, For Love of Children, Jubilee Housing, Jubilee Jumpstart, Sitar Arts Center, and Mary’s Center—formed a strategic alliance, committed to ending multigenerational poverty in their neighborhood. With start-up funding granted by the Meyer Foundation in October 2017, the Steering Committee engaged Mission Partners to guide the group through the foundational process of creating a model for collective impact called The Platform of Hope.

Mission Partners led the Steering Committee through a Design Thinking process that established a vision and common agenda, guiding principles, governance model, program design, budget, process map, and fundraising plan for a one-year pilot cohort of participating families, with plans to scale over 5 years. Mission Partners developed protocol and trained representatives of each organization to conduct empathy interviews and listening sessions with prospective families. The Steering Committee engaged community members at every step, using their feedback and insights to modify and design the program.

The Platform of Hope launched in September 2018 with a cohort of twenty families and has adopted a unique and forward-thinking model in which families develop their own goals and build a strategy plan for accomplishing them.

When the Jubilee Housing leadership and board adopted a new phrase—justice housing—to describe its organizational philosophy towards providing affordable housing, the team struggled with finding exactly the right words to define what they meant by that phrase. Jubilee Housing engaged Mission Partners to create a definition of justice housing and messaging to help members of the team communicate about the philosophy. Mission Partners hosted a series of in-depth interviews, followed by a focus group in Washington, DC, to explore perceptions and associations of every word in the proposed definition. Mission Partners assembled a diverse group of residents, board members, donors, and volunteers, leading participants through a variety of structured and unstructured exercises and questions to uncover feelings and emotions associated with every word. Mission Partners then developed all brand elements to support the roll out of the new phrase and brand, including a case statement for support. Just 9 months after launching the Justice Housing Fund, Jubilee Housing surpassed its $5M fundraising goal and secured more than 100% of its goal for increasing affordable housing units in the Adams Morgan neighborhood.

For the past decade, despite significant efforts by the public, private and philanthropic sectors, the number of women and girls living near or below poverty in the Washington, D.C. region has remained stagnant: holding flat at nearly half a million women and girls. As Washington Area Women’s Foundation looked to the future, it knew it needed to pay particular attention to eliminating barriers that disproportionately hinder women and girls from gaining economic security. The Foundation called on C.Fox Communications to help them develop and ultimately release a bold strategic plan, “Together We Thrive,” to guide The Foundation’s efforts through the next five years, and into the future. In just the first year of the plan’s development, the Women’s Foundation has significantly strengthened its ties and work in the community, with new and deeper relationships to the Mayor’s office, the White House and to federal funders.