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USBC e-Newsletter June-July 2011

In This Issue

Collective Impact Organizations

By Megan Renner

When USBC leaders finalized our new strategic plan in 2009, we discussed the benefits of expressing an organizational vision, not only for our image of a desired future, but also for our role in making that future a reality. USBC's revised vision statement includes a tag line that succinctly describes USBC's role:

Advancing breastfeeding on our Nation's agenda:

  • Collaboration
  • Leadership
  • Advocacy

I distinctly recall the discussion that led to the word "collaboration" being placed as the first of those three words. This was a deliberate decision. Collaboration is a part of our mission statement, and it is embedded in our organizational structure as a cross-sector coalition of independent organizations. It is also at the heart of our programs and resources to support the state breastfeeding coalitions. You will hear from Robin in this issue's Chair's column about the workshop we piloted in June for coalitions and state nutrition leaders on "Building Effective Collaborations."

There are days when "collaboration" seems to be every third word out of our mouths in USBC staff and leadership discussions. But in the wake of The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding (SGCTA), we are also considering how collaboration can be taken to an entirely different level.

If you have not yet, I urge you to take a closer look at the Implementation Matrix and the Socio-Ecological Model created to depict the variety of actors that will need to be involved in each of the 20 actions of the SGCTA. This snapshot of the multiplicity of audiences and potential actors we will need to reach further emphasizes the cross-cutting nature of breastfeeding and the critical need for collaboration and outreach beyond the traditional "breastfeeding community."

I know you might be thinking, "With the scale and complexity of the issues surrounding breastfeeding, is this really possible?" I'd like to share an example with you of how this type of large-scale social change can succeed, with broad cross-sector collaboration that requires many different players to change in order to solve a complex problem. Read on:


Against…daunting odds, a remarkable exception seems to be emerging in Cincinnati. Strive, a nonprofit subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks, has brought together local leaders to tackle the student achievement crisis and improve education throughout greater Cincinnati and northern Kentucky. In the four years since the group was launched, Strive partners have improved student success in dozens of key areas across three large public school districts. Despite the recession and budget cuts, 34 of the 53 success indicators that Strive tracks have shown positive trends, including high school graduation rates, fourth-grade reading and math scores, and the number of preschool children prepared for kindergarten.

Why has Strive made progress when so many other efforts have failed? It is because a core group of community leaders decided to abandon their individual agendas in favor of a collective approach to improving student achievement. More than 300 leaders of local organizations agreed to participate, including the heads of influential private and corporate foundations, city government officials, school district representatives, the presidents of eight universities and community colleges, and the executive directors of hundreds of education-related nonprofit and advocacy groups.

These leaders realized that fixing one point on the educational continuum—such as better after-school programs—wouldn't make much difference unless all parts of the continuum improved at the same time. No single organization, however innovative or powerful, could accomplish this alone. Instead, their ambitious mission became to coordinate improvements at every stage of a young person's life, from "cradle to career."

Strive didn't try to create a new educational program or attempt to convince donors to spend more money. Instead, through a carefully structured process, Strive focused the entire educational community on a single set of goals, measured in the same way. Participating organizations are grouped into 15 different Student Success Networks (SSNs) by type of activity, such as early childhood education or tutoring. Each SSN has been meeting with coaches and facilitators for two hours every two weeks for the past three years, developing shared performance indicators, discussing their progress, and most important, learning from each other and aligning their efforts to support each other.

Strive, both the organization and the process it helps facilitate, is an example of collective impact, the commitment of a group of important actors from different sectors to a common agenda for solving a specific social problem. Collaboration is nothing new. The social sector is filled with examples of partnerships, networks, and other types of joint efforts. But collective impact initiatives are distinctly different. Unlike most collaborations, collective impact initiatives involve a centralized infrastructure, a dedicated staff, and a structured process that leads to a common agenda, shared measurement, continuous communication, and mutually reinforcing activities among all participants…

…examples all have a common theme: that large-scale social change comes from better cross-sector coordination rather than from the isolated intervention of individual organizations. Evidence of the effectiveness of this approach is still limited, but these examples suggest that substantially greater progress could be made in alleviating many of our most serious and complex social problems if nonprofits, governments, businesses, and the public were brought together around a common agenda to create collective impact. It doesn't happen often, not because it is impossible, but because it is so rarely attempted. Funders and nonprofits alike overlook the potential for collective impact because they are used to focusing on independent action as the primary vehicle for social change…

…The problem with relying on the isolated impact of individual organizations is further compounded by the isolation of the nonprofit sector. Social problems arise from the interplay of governmental and commercial activities, not only from the behavior of social sector organizations. As a result, complex problems can be solved only by cross-sector coalitions that engage those outside the nonprofit sector…

Shifting from isolated impact to collective impact is not merely a matter of encouraging more collaboration or public-private partnerships. It requires a systemic approach to social impact that focuses on the relationships between organizations and the progress toward shared objectives. And it requires the creation of a new set of nonprofit management organizations that have the skills and resources to assemble and coordinate the specific elements necessary for collective action to succeed.

…In "Catalytic Philanthropy," we wrote: "Mobilizing and coordinating stakeholders is far messier and slower work than funding a compelling grant request from a single organization. Systemic change, however, ultimately depends on a sustained campaign to increase the capacity and coordination of an entire field."

Excerpted from the article "Collective Impact" published in the Stanford Social innovation Review by John Kania and Mark Kramer.


So where do we go from here? What does "collective impact" look like for breastfeeding?

The SGCTA has identified USBC and the state coalitions as leaders in the implementation of the 20 recommended actions. Action 20 calls to: "Improve national leadership on the promotion and support of breastfeeding," and specifically to "Increase the capacity of the USBC and affiliated state coalitions to support breastfeeding." This section also clearly describes the difference between isolated impact and collective impact, saying: "Although many organizations and public health agencies have contributed to improvements in breastfeeding over time, coordinated leadership of these efforts is still lacking. Increased efforts are needed to develop and implement an action plan on breastfeeding."

USBC leaders began to strategize for this implementation work even before the SGCTA was launched. Watch for changes to come in our member reports, meeting structure, coalitions update survey, and project implementation, as well as the acceleration of outreach to new and non-traditional partners.

As Kania and Kramer emphasize, "…reaching an effective solution requires learning by the stakeholders involved in the problem, who must then change their own behavior in order to create a solution." See the Chair's column for more on collaboration as the building of a learning community, or "a sustained conversation of learners to implement systems change." We will be designing our conversations differently and asking different questions of our shared learning community. This will require a new way of thinking and a new focus for many of us.

USBC is ready to invest in collaboration as an intervention in itself. Will you join us in answering the call?

Chair's Column
Building Effective Collaborations

Several USBC leaders recently returned from Salt Lake City, the site of the breastfeeding workshop USBC hosted following the Annual Meeting of the Association of State and Territorial Public Health Nutrition Directors (ASTPHND). Entitled Building Effective Collaborations: Implementation of the Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding, the workshop was a first for USBC, an opportunity that resulted from our strategic partnership with ASTPHND.

The ASTPHND partnership is successful because both organizations are committed to a common mission to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding. As a result USBC and ASTPHND have shared resources, expertise, and gained a deeper understanding of each other's organizations.

ASTPHND members, representing every state and territory across diverse practice areas, understand that breastfeeding is a primary preventive public health strategy and are able to reach out to state breastfeeding coalitions. USBC members and coalition affiliates in turn have a strong link with every state and territorial public health department.

As the state coalitions are acutely aware, CDC's Community Transformation Grants offer an enormous opportunity for collaboration within states and communities. In these times of economic stress and fiscal cutbacks, collaboration is a critical way to leverage finite resources for maximum benefit on a common goal.

One of the workshop speakers, Margaret Adamek, PhD, addressed ways to build effective collaborations for organizations that work on systems change. A key message was that collaboration is not only what we do together, but also how we learn together. As we learn from each other and align our efforts to support one another, we can achieve a much greater change than any one organization can accomplish alone. Collaboration itself is an intervention. Focusing on the process, not just the product, will facilitate moving us forward toward our shared objectives. Stay tuned for application of some of these principles in USBC meetings and activities!

Another exciting opportunity for collaboration is unfolding with Milk for Thought. To celebrate all of the recent progress and momentum in the breastfeeding community, Milk for Thought is hitting the road (in a giant pink bus) to showcase what Americans are doing across the country to support and empower breastfeeding moms. They will be traveling with a three-person film crew to capture personal stories and stories of organizations taking action, and to promote the 20 actions of The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding.

USBC is well positioned to succeed in tackling our common mission to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding with our diverse and growing membership. With a shared passion about breastfeeding and each other's support, we can accomplish more collectively than we can alone.

Finally, please join me in welcoming the newest member of the USBC leadership team, Kathie Marinelli, as co-chair of the Media and Public Relations Committee. And a special thanks to Joan Meek for her representation of USBC at the Office on Women's Health Expert Panels on the Business Case for Breastfeeding.


Robin W. Stanton, MA, RD, LD

Coalition Spotlight: Florida Breastfeeding Coalition

By Debbie Albert, PhD, RN, IBCLC

The Florida Breastfeeding Coalition (FBC) is a statewide multi-disciplinary group of individuals, businesses, and organizations with the following mission: "to improve the health of Floridians by working collaboratively to protect, promote and support breastfeeding." It is FBC's intention to change the landscape of breastfeeding in our state by focusing on hospital, workplace, and community settings.

The inaugural meeting of key individuals supporting the formation of a statewide breastfeeding coalition was held in April 2008. The attendees included physicians from three teaching hospitals/state universities, Internation Board Certified Lactation Consultants, dieticians, WIC peer counselors, and nurses. In 2009 the Florida Breastfeeding Coalition was incorporated and established as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

FBC participates in national training seminars and meetings to assist our state in legislative advocacy, minimizing barriers to breastfeeding, and supporting breastfeeding for healthy mothers, infants, and children. The coalition convenes twice yearly in addtion to monthly phone conferences.

The FBC Board is 15 members strong with multiple tasks and goals and includes many members with strong leadership positions in the state of Florida. Joan Meek, MD, MS, RD, IBCLC is the current FBC President and also serves as Past Chair of USBC. Debbie Albert, Ph.D., RN, IBCLC is the FBC President-Elect and serves as the Alternate Coalitions Regional Representative to USBC for the Southeast Region.

The Florida Breastfeeding Coalition has held two annual conferences, and looks forward to the third conference, "Florida's Call to Action" in October 2011.

Additional FBC highlights:

  • The Breastfeeding Friendly Employer Project recognizes businesses that provide breastfeeding support in the workplace. Awards are given at the bronze, silver, and gold levels and recipients are acknowledged through plaques, press releases, website listings, and award ceremonies.
  • In a cooperative venture with the Florida Department of Health, FBC has worked to increase breastfeeding support for teachers by helping county school systems develop policies securing teachers' rights.
  • FBC was featured in an Office on Women's Health expert panel in Washington D.C. for its work encouraging support of the Business Case for Breastfeeding in university nursing and public health programs.
  • Since the FBC Business Case for Breastfeeding training in 2009, over 20 businesses have applied and received awards, with 10 additional presentation and trainings given.
  • FBC was one of eight state coalitions chosen for USBC's "Landscape of Breastfeeding Support" photo project documenting Employment Support in Action. The FBC project, "Get Pumped!," resulted in over 1500 photos of breastfeeding mothers during their daily work routine.
  • FBC is establishing a hospital initiative that will provide awards to hospitals that support breastfeeding families.
  • FBC boasts an active website that receives thousands of hits per month, and an email newsletter that is distributed monthly to over 500 recipients statewide.

FBC is very proud of its many accomplishments in these three short years, and looks forward to further growth and development as it continues to expand breastfeeding awareness across the State of Florida. For more information, please visit us online.

In each issue we'll highlight a different state, territory, or tribal breastfeeding coalition (in even months) or national USBC member organization (in odd months).

The Inside Scoop

Click to learn more about these recent "happenings"…

The National Prevention Strategy was released on June 16, and it includes breastfeeding as a recommendation under the Healthy Eating section.

On May 25, the Office of the First Lady's Let's Move! Initiative and four federal agencies launched Let's Move! in Indian Country (LMIC). One of the LMIC objectives is to: "Certify all 14 federally run IHS obstetrics facilities as Baby Friendly Hospitals by 2012."

The first leg of the Latch On America! big pink bus tour was announced today! Visit the tour website for details and stay tuned for the announcement of the southern leg soon.

Pediatrics published a meta-analysis entitled "Breastfeeding and Reduced Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome."

Pediatrics also published an article on "The Effect of Maternity Leave Length and Time of Return to Work on Breastfeeding."

USBC signed onto a joint letter published in response to the Pediatrics commentary: "Regulatory Monitoring of Feeding During the Birth Hospitalization."

Think your state is family friendly? Check out this new interactive map from the National Partnership for Women & Families to find out what's happening in your state on work-family laws.

Download the new LactMed App to your iPhone or Android to find information about medications and breastfeeding. Brought to you by the United States National Library of Medicine.

Action Alerts

The House voted to cut Fiscal Year 2012 WIC funding by $733 million. The result: between 300,000 and 750,000 mothers and young children will be denied WIC nutrition benefits. Educate your Senators and Representatives on WIC's importance to the health of our Nation. Find your Representative or Senator and write, call, or schedule a visit today! The National WIC Association has prepared tips and talking points to guide you.

Respond to Representative Virginia Foxx's misguided attempt to cut breastfeeding peer counseling in the WIC program by sharing your story of how a peer counselor helped you reach your personal breastfeeding goals.

Help USBC reach 4,000 "likes" on Facebook! Visit our Page and don't forget to press the "like" button.

The WBW Action Folder is here! Get it under the Downloads tab on the World Breastfeeding Week website. If you are planning to organize an event for World Breastfeeding Week, please post it on the WBW Pledges page.

Food for Thought!

We hope you enjoy these tidbits!

The Breast Beanie
A simple knit pattern sure to bring a smile.

Comical Breastfeeding Styles
Which is your favorite?

Breastfeeding on Sesame Street
Big Bird learns about breastfeeding.

Nursing Mothers' Rooms on Campus
Michigan State University's interactive map of over 80 lactation rooms available.