In November of 2006, Arizonans, by a majority vote, created an 80 cents cigarette sales tax to provide dedicated and sustainable funding for early childhood services; thus making a commitment to all Arizona children age 5 and younger that they will have the necessary tools to arrive at school healthy and ready to succeed. The initiative created the First Things First (FTF) board and 31 regional partnership councils that share the responsibility of ensuring that these early childhood funds are spent on strategies that result in improved education and health outcomes for Arizona’s youngest constituents.
A critical variable that is potentially threatening FTF’s strategic progress is the disparity among Arizona’s early childhood providers in terms of their abilities to access FTF grant awards and/or meet contractual requirements once an award is received. To address this challenge, FTF has partnered with the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits (The Alliance) to implement a targeted capacity building initiative with early childhood serving organizations throughout Arizona.
The Alliance has been awarded a grant by FTF to provide targeted capacity building services and technical assistance to early childhood providers throughout the state in order to: increase their understanding of the mission and goals of FTF, its contractual requirements, and its local governance structure; explore the potential pathways for participating in the FTF system and determine where agencies aspire to ‘fit in’; and identify and increase the capacities necessary for successful partnership with FTF and/or other major funders. The intermediate goal is to increase the number and effectiveness of organizations and service providers within the FTF and entire early childhood system.
This capacity building initiative is grounded in the premise that an organization’s ability to successfully win grant awards is in direct proportion to its demonstrated effectiveness. Also, that grant monies received from one funder increases the probability of receiving grant awards from another, thereby further increasing capacity and leveraging public and private dollars.
Following capacity building best-practices, a targeted capacity building approach has been implemented with each participating agency. This approach is based upon the successful research of the TCC Group, a leader in best-practice capacity building, and involves administering their Core Capacity Assessment Tool (CCAT) to: determine the type/size of organization; assess the organization’s aspirations; assess the organization’s life cycle; assess their capacity needs; determine what needs to be changed; determine whether the individuals or groups are ‘ready to go’ or ‘need to get ready’; determine a cost-effective model for supporting capacity building.
Participating agencies have been paired with a qualified consultant who assists agency leaders with administering the CCAT (or alternative assessment when necessary) and interpreting the subsequent report. Working in partnership with the agency or program leaders, consultants design a capacity building action plan customized to the capacity needs of each enrolled organization, deliver the corresponding technical assistance services, and provide ongoing guidance and coaching as staff determines and initiates strategies deemed most feasible and relative to available resources and buy-in from staff, board and clients.
Successful capacity building completion includes:
An administered CCAT and facilitated review of the report; a written capacity building action plan with identified technical assistance activities, methodology, content, timeline, and success indicators; delivery of technical assistance.
- Technical assistance is designed to foster growth in knowledge, skills, and demonstrated behaviors and therefore includes content and skill instruction, modeling, facilitation, and on-site or online coaching to reinforce knowledge and skills.
The project will come to a close with all technical assistance ending by June 2015. Organizations are no longer being accepted into the project.
Space is limited, recruitment is occurring statewide and applications are rolling in! Don't miss this opportunity and don't delay, download and email your application to Lauren Schroeder.
Capacity Building Initiative Theory of Change Diagram: