By: Rhiannon Guzelian, Communications Manager, NVI

This blog is part of an ongoing series on veterans and food insecurity. Once you’ve read this primer on food insecurity among the veteran population, check out the smart ways our Local Partners are taking action at the community level to combat this growing concern.

As many as 1 in 4 veterans are facing impossible questions
As many as 1 in 4 veterans are facing impossible questions

“Do I pay my rent, or feed my kids?”

“If I skip dinner for the next week, can I afford my meds?”

“Where will my next meal come from?”

Those are the very real questions people face when they experience food insecurity. Food insecurity is anxiety-provoking, detrimental to health…


By: Rhiannon Guzelian, Communications Manager, NVI

In communities across our nation, COVID-19’s economic devastation has pushed families to the brink, adding to the number of households living in “food insecurity.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as a “household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food.” Food insecurity is harmful to healthboth physical and mentaland puts families in the position of making impossible decisions. Someone facing food insecurity might face questions like:

“Do I pay for medicine or groceries? Can I afford to put gas in the tank and…


In a collaborative setting, defining a problem can be just as hard as solving it. But once you’ve got a clear picture of the problem you want to fix, and the outcome you desire, you get to work. Right?

Maybe not. Before doing anything, it’s critical to think about not only what we’re doing, but why — and for whom.

What is human-centered design?

Human-centered design (or design thinking, as it’s more commonly known) is a problem-solving methodology adapted from the systematic thought processes used by professional designers. Human-centered design is a type of design thinking with a focus on…


By: Deirdre Armstrong, Associate Director, Community Partnerships

We were pleased to sponsor 15 scholarships covering registration fees for NVI community members attending the 2018 Collective Impact Convening in Austin, Texas April 3–5. The sold-out forum was an initiative founded and organized by FSG and the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions. The Convening brought together funders, backbones, partners and community members for cross-sector dialogue and peer learning surrounding collective impact.

The NVI cohort, representing 12 unique communities, met for an informal gathering hosted by NVI where they were able to compare notes from the sessions and discuss lessons learned within…


This is the last blog in our series on the Collective Impact conditions of success. Want to get caught up? Here are the previous posts in the series: Collaborating For Impact, Common Agenda, Shared Measurement, Mutually Reinforcing Activities, A Backbone Organization.

The fifth condition of success is Continuous Communication. It sounds straightforward in theory, but is complex and nuanced in execution. We have more modes of communication than ever, but our perpetual connectedness doesn’t always support collaborative work.

A Matter of Trust

Years of research on Collective Impact suggest that the in-person meeting has been the gold standard of collaborative…


There’s an awful lot to be said about Backbone Organizations. There’s even more to learn, thanks to the continuous improvement mindset established by Collective Impact’s conceptual pioneers. In this post, we’ll present a basic primer on the topic, and briefly explore what the idea means to NVI.

So what exactly is a Backbone Organization?

It’s the team that provides necessary infrastructure for the collaborative, fulfilling many roles including:

  • Planning
  • Management
  • Facilitation
  • Administration
  • Technical assistance
  • Data collection
  • Reporting
  • Communications
  • Logistics

Collective Impact pioneers John Kania and Mark Kramer challenge the all-too-common assumption that collaboration can succeed without infrastructure. Instead, they argue…


This is the fourth installment in our series on Collective Impact and the five conditions of success. If you’d like to get caught up, you can visit any post in the series:

Collaborating For Impact (Introduction)
Common Agenda
Shared Measurement
A Backbone Organization
Continuous Communication

Mutually Reinforcing Activities, as explained by John Kania (Global Managing Director, FSG) and Mark Kramer (Founder and Managing Director, FSG) in their foundational 2011 article, mean encouraging collaborators to “undertake the specific set of activities at which it excels in a way that supports and is coordinated with the actions of others.” This condition is…


Knowing Our Impact, Showing Our Impact

In our last post, we discussed the first Collective Impact condition of success, Common Agenda. If you haven’t checked it out yet, hop on over to read it. The next condition of success is perhaps most challenging. It’s also perhaps the most crucial.

Measurement is what contributes to collaboratives’ ability to assess progress, evaluate processes, quantify results, and report impacts to stakeholders (notably, to funders and policy makers). Shared Measurement, then, is more complex and just as crucial. …


In our blog “Collaborating for Impact,” we discussed the five conditions for Collective Impact success. For the next couple of weeks, we’ll devote a blog to each condition of success, exploring what each condition means when applied to the work of Veteran collaboratives.

First Things First

A common agenda is the first condition of success laid out for us in Kania and Kramer’s foundational 2011 Stanford Social Innovation Review article. How do the authors define “common agenda?” Let’s take a look:

“Collective impact requires all participants to have a shared vision for change, one that includes a common understanding of…


What is Collective Impact?

The swell of support surrounding Veterans and military service members has been described as a “sea of goodwill.” It’s an apt metaphor for the vastness and power of communities’ desire to see Veterans succeed in transition. But a sea can also churn, overwhelm, and defy even the best navigators. To best support our Veterans, communities need a proven model for cross-sector collaboration.

Enter “Collective Impact.”

Codified in a 2011 Stanford Social Innovation Review article by John Kania and Mark Kramer of FSG, “Collective Impact” is a structured approach to working together, better. …

National Veterans Intermediary

NVI is an initiative of the Bob Woodruff Foundation.

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