January 2021 Partner Plan Act Newsletter

January 6, 2021

IAFC Service Updates and Office Closures

“Activists take the risks, while advocates are professional tinkerers with the system. What’s necessary is for those who are advocates to support those who are activists and to envision themselves as activists.”

—Michelle Alexander

Community Systems Statewide Supports (CS3)

We hope you had a safe and joyful holiday season, and that you are returning to work rejuvenated and ready to work hard alongside children and families.

2020 revealed the many systemic failures that continue to harm the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities. As we continue to understand the importance and impact of racial equity, be sure to check out our Racial Equity Resources webpage to find assessments, tools, and resources. If you want to elevate racial equity issues or integrate racial equity in your community, consider requesting On-Demand Consultation from the CS3 team for support and guidance.

Collaboration Highlight


Interview with Rhonda Hillyer, Mentee of Community-to-Community Mentorship Program

Kristina Rogers, CS3 Program Manager, spoke with Rhonda Hillyer to learn about her experience as a mentee in the Community-to-Community Mentorship Program. Rhonda has been participating in the mentorship program since October 2019. She is the Early Childhood Community Systems Coordinator and P3 Behavioral Health Consultant for the Regional Office of Education (ROE) #33 which serves Knox, Warren, Henderson, and Mercer counties. She is responsible for launching a new collaboration in the region. Her mentor, Mary Haley, is the Project Director of the Addison Early Childhood Collaborative.

  1. What were you hoping to get out of your mentorship experience?
    I was hoping to understand my role as the collaboration leader and facilitator. When I stepped into this role, I didn’t know what that would look like. I had gone to the Central Illinois collaboration meetings as a member and I kind of knew what meetings looked like but I still didn’t know what to expect [as a collaboration leader]…being teamed up with Mary, we started meeting shortly after the launch. I just met with Mary and asked her, ‘What’s your day-to-day like?’ She comes from an established collaboration whereas I’m building one currently.
  2. How has this developed your understanding of early childhood community systems development?
    a. There’s just so much… We have discussions about working with other systems…and how even her community, it’s so different from ours. Ours is very rural and hers is not. But touching base about how to learn about different systems and how to connect with them has been so helpful. Also, I’m learning that [community systems development] is not a fast process and it’s really about connecting with people and those relationships. That has been the hardest part of this for me—it taking time. Mary has been really supportive and walking me through that.
  3. What are some ways you have seen your collaboration grow as a result of this program?
    a. Focus. Mary actually attended our December coaching session to present on her collaboration and speak to her frameworks and working groups. Many of the people on the steering committee haven’t been a part of collaborations so it was good for them to hear from her. Mary also helped me understand how to read data. I had tried to take the data course on the Partner Plan Act site, but realized that I needed help. Mary walked me through it all.
  4. What has been your favorite part of the experience?
    a. Her holding the space for me to talk things out and asking me thoughtful questions that get me thinking. She brings a different point of view. She is really great and really careful about what she sends me as resources so as not to overwhelm me.
  5. Has anything surprised you about your experience?
    a. It’s just way better than what I expected and I’m grateful for the connection I’ve made with Mary. I can’t thank Partner Plan Act enough or your team enough. It’s been my first year in this position, and I don’t know where I’d be if you guys didn’t provide the resources and all the support you have this year. I feel like I’ve brought so much to the ROE and that’s all because of your team.
  6. What advice would you give to people considering, but still undecided, about joining the mentorship program?
    a. I would say acknowledge if you have reservations or fears about it but you don’t know what you don’t know. I would jump in and do it; it’s worth trying. And you may be pleasantly surprised!

For more information about the C2C Mentorship Program and to see how you can get involved, visit our website.


Collective Impact in Emergency Response


In our neighboring state, Wisconsin, Milwaukee’s community response to COVID-19 has been a remarkable mobilization of resources and organizations to address access to basic needs like shelter, food, testing, internet connection, and more. While necessity has forced such collective efforts in many cities, Milwaukee’s may be unique because of the civic architecture that has been built that may have contributed to its ability to address a crisis.

The experience of Milwaukee’s Civic Response is the subject of a new case study featured in Collective Impact in Emergency Response. The case study provides a window into a city’s comprehensive response to the COVID-19 crisis that also offers six lessons for how collective impact initiatives can be most effective in both meeting emergency needs and also pursuing systems changes.

Segregated By Design


In one’s own learning process of understanding institutional and systemic racism, it may help to look at how these issues exist in other fields and sectors outside of early childhood. Diving deep into different sectors can also reveal to us more about why things are the way they are now and any interconnections between these sectors and our own to weave a broader understanding of systemic racism in communities. To take a look at how systemic racism has impacted the housing sector, we recommend this 17-minute video that shares some of the highlights from Richard Rothstein’s book, “The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America.” This book examines the forgotten history of how federal, state, and local governments unconstitutionally segregated every major metropolitan area in America through law and policy. With an understanding of how systemic racism impacts housing, early childhood collaborations can gain awareness of how policies and practices continue to negatively impact their families and communities today.

Trainings and Events

Governance Workshop Series

A widely-watched BUILD Institute video, which describes the promise of early childhood community systems building, asks the question: “What would happen if we all worked together on behalf of kids? Everyone!” As many collaborations know, working together as one and achieving results is easier said than done—and governance is often the missing ingredient.

The CS3 team has developed a five-part series of workshops to address this need. If you did not attend the first Governance Workshop* (10.28.2020), please contact Kim Zalent, Trainer/Coach before registering for the upcoming workshops.

Tamarack Institute Workshops

The CS3 program partnered with the Tamarack Institute to provide a “Week of Webinars” in November 2020. The webinars were designed to build communities’ capacity to advance systems change.

Tamarack Institute will also be conducting in-depth workshops starting in January 2021 on a range of topics that may support your collaboration or individual growth.

In addition, Tamarack Institute will offer coaching sessions to participants as a follow up to the workshops. Those dates will be scheduled at the time of the training.

Chicago Regional Organizing for Anti-Racism (CROAR) Trainings: Intro to Systemic Racism

It is impossible to talk about systems change without recognizing the insidious nature of racism and its role within systems. For this reason, the CS3 program partnered with Chicago Regional Organizing for Anti-Racism (CROAR) to provide trainings on this important and timely issue.

During this training, participants will build a common definition of racism and explore the historic development of institutional racism in the US. They will examine ongoing realities of racism including the identity-shaping power racism has on People of Color and White people; explore racism’s individual, institutional and cultural manifestations; and consider the link between racism and other forms of oppression. A strategic methodology to dismantle racism will be introduced, focusing specifically on applying principles of community organizing and social change.

Please join us for the upcoming training:

Participation is extremely limited, so please only register if you know that you can attend.