Simpson Housing is part of a collaboration chosen as finalist in national competition for $250,000 prize

Economic tumult around the world has made collaboration among nonprofits more essential than ever. Earlier this year, in an effort to increase nonprofit efficiency, The Lodestar Foundation of Phoenix, Ariz., in association with the Arizona-Indiana-Michigan (AIM) Alliance, created The Collaboration Prize, a cash award of $250,000 that will be presented to the most successful collaboration in the nonprofit world.

On Nov. 12, Lodestar announced 30 semi-finalists, selected from a pool of 644 U.S.-based nominations. The Minneapolis-based Collaboration of Housing Resources is one of the semi-finalists chosen for the prize.

Four organizations comprise the collaboration: Spectrum Community Mental Health (a division of RESOURCE), Simpson Housing Services, St. Stephen’s Human Services, and the American Indian Community Development Corporation.

“Each possesses unique strengths, capabilities and community relationships to provide housing and support services for long-term homeless individuals in Minneapolis,” according to Julie Manworren, executive director of Simpson Housing Services.

“The collaboration operates four distinct teams under one umbrella,” adds Karen Hovland, vice president of RESOURCE and head of Spectrum Community Mental Health. “By collaborating, the organizations avoid duplication and leverage their strengths to benefit their common goal of ending chronic homelessness. The collaborating agencies streamlined administration of housing subsidies, developing areas of expertise or specialization within agencies.”

“The collaboration set up an interesting and flexible structure that spreads the risk, income, and expertise fairly among the partner agencies,” says Manworren. “This partnership can be replicated, saves the community money, and focuses scarce resources in effective service delivery. The collaboration is helping 225 very long-term homeless adults to find permanent housing.”

Financial support for the collaboration comes from the Hennepin County Human Services and Public Health Department, Minnesota Department of Human Services, State of Minnesota Partner’s Fund, Hearth Connection, Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration, Bush Foundation, Corporation for Supportive Housing, Greater Twin Cities United Way, Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation, and the WCA Foundation.

The next phase of The Collaboration Prize selection process will involve an in-depth review of each of the 30 semi-finalist nominations by a distinguished Final Selection Panel, chaired by Sterling Speirn, president of the Kellogg Foundation. The Final Selection Panel will narrow the semi-finalist field to eight finalists, to be announced in early December.

Lodestar will announce the winner on March 5, 2009 at a seminar on collaboration among nonprofits sponsored by the Association of Small Foundations and Lodestar. The finalists will be invited to participate in the Spring Forum on Nonprofit Effectiveness at Arizona State the following day. The most outstanding models will be compiled for study and used as blueprints by academics, nonprofit leaders and grantmakers in order to advance the practice of nonprofit collaboration.

UPDATE/Feb. 27: Our collaboration was not chosen to move forward in the competition, but continues to help many long-term homeless adults achieve stability.

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