As you may know, the Communities of Excellence 2026 staff, board and our many wonderful supporters and volunteers have been focusing much of our attention lately on developing a National Learning Collaborative of communities to start spreading the COE Framework across the country. This is no easy task, but I am pleased to say that we have a small cohort of communities ready to help us launch in May. This group, made up of small, large, urban and rural communities and regions will be working with us from May to September to test the learning curriculum, develop a robust best practices and management platform using ManageHub and pave the way for a second cohort to join in September, 2017. There are still opportunities for your community to join us in September for this year-long collaborative effort of communities.
In a past blog post, Brian Lassiter, COE Board Member and Collaborative Faculty Member wrote, "Imagine a time when leaders within a community – official leaders (those elected or appointed to their formal positions) as well as the many informal community leaders – work together to set community vision; listen to community stakeholders to better understand community assets and needs; (re)allocate resources to address community issues or advance community initiatives; use community scorecards to monitor progress of those initiatives and the outcomes they intend to impact; and engage, mobilize, and align people resources – workers, volunteers, and citizenry – on the initiatives that will make a difference in a given community. That’s how high performing organizations succeed; we believe that’s how high performing communities will succeed."
This is the vision that guides Communties of Excellence 2026 and motivates us to continually take our work to the next level. I am excited and thankful to this first cohort of communities who are willing to be the trailblazers on this journey and help us continually improve our approach. I want to acknowledge the work of San Diego County's South Region and their Backbone Organization, San Diego County's Health and Human Services Agency. Their willingess to share their journey with us has given us invaluable feedback on how to implement the COE Framework in other communities. Now we have the opportunity to take what we've learned and spread our efforts to this next group.
There are many varieties of this quote, but as Nicholas Sparks said, "Nothing that's worthwhile is ever easy. Remember that." Thank you to those that have supported us and to all of you that follow our progress. I think this next stage of our journey is going to be a great one.
Stephanie Norling, Director, Communities of Excellence 2026