10: Neighbourhood-based collaboration – Bronx Opportunity Network
The Bronx Opportunity Network (BON) is a collaborative effort among a group of seven CBOs serving young adults in the South Bronx – one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the US with high levels of disconnected youth.111 The initiative developed out of a shared goal to increase college access – and to support post-secondary retention — among disconnected young adults in partnership with Bronx and Hostos Community Colleges. In the first year of the initiative, 100 young adults participated, and 76 young adults successfully completed their first year of college.
Partners worked together to assess the existing evidence and develop a framework for action. Continuous communication has been an integral part of ensuring that partners align and coordinate activity within this framework: “you need to have timing and space for meetings – communication is one of the most critical components to partnership working”.112
Partnership has had multiple benefits: learning from others involved in the partnership, a collective voice giving them more power and influence in the wider system; a focus on demand-driven strategies; allowing partners to share best practice; brainstorming solutions to particular issues and working together to recruit. It also means partners can provide on-site support, for example at college campuses rather than just at community centres.