Marsha L. Semmel (2015)
“Collective Impact” and STEM Learning: Joining Forces to Make a Difference in Communities
Principal, Marsha Semmel Consulting
*Presented at the 2015 Public Libraries & STEM Conference. View Conference Program
Today, policy makers, funders, and government agencies alike are grappling with the need to use resources efficiently and effectively in order to make a measurable difference in addressing some of today’s pressing significant social, cultural, and educational challenges. When dealing with such “wicked problems” as domestic abuse, health and nutrition, poverty, educational achievement, and STEM learning, it’s not enough for an organization to deliver results that contribute only to its bottom line. Increasingly, authorizers and supporters are promoting a “collective impact” approach that moves beyond individual organizational effectiveness to foster (and even require) multi-organization collaboration to drive systemic change. This presentation describes collective impact and its evolution in the policy, philanthropic, and programmatic arenas, with a specific focus on STEM learning. When is it appropriate to use a collective impact approach? What are some examples of STEM-related collective impact efforts, including those involving libraries? What types of STEM-relevant collective impact ‘metrics’ and evaluation strategies have been developed, and what are the implications for libraries engaging the STEM arena?