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Making Connections Technical Assistance

Making Connections was a 10-year initiative of the Annie E. Casey Foundation designed to demonstrate how communities can improve results for vulnerable children and families living in concentrated poverty. Making Connections was based on a two-generation attack on poverty – assuring that children are healthy and prepared to read proficiently by third grade, and helping parents work, earn and save to achieve economic self-sufficiency. Residents of the neighborhoods were at the center of the effort; other partners included community-based organizations, local government, businesses, social-service agencies, community foundations and other funders. This simultaneous emphasis on families, economic opportunity and school success in the early grades, along with strengthening the capacity of community to drive the work on their own, represented a significant departure from previous community change initiatives sponsored by Casey and other national and local funders.

The 10 sites involved in the initiative were: Denver, Des Moines, Hartford, Indianapolis, Louisville, Milwaukee, Oakland, Providence, San Antonio and White Center/Seattle. To support these sites, CSSP developed the Technical Assistance Resource Center (TARC) to help connect sites to relevant knowledge, tools, promising practices and learning opportunities in the community change field. The work with Making Connections helped CSSP refine and advance its results-oriented approach to technical assistance.

TARC served as more than a broker of information. TARC helped communities realize concrete results; was attuned to local priorities; and emphasized the need for equity, inclusiveness and accountability. Several TARC resources guides have been developed to provide communities with key ideas and effective approaches:

  • helped communities realize concrete results
  • was attuned to local priorities
  • emphasized the need for equity, inclusiveness and accountability

This approach to technical assistance encourages strong resident engagement and leadership development, strategic partnerships across various sectors, the ability to convene partners and conduct long-term planning and reliable community data and information systems. TARC’s approach helped build a local “support system” to assist communities in their efforts to improve outcomes for children and families.

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