DYCD provides support for providers at each stage of the continuum by hosting neighborhood clinics and supporting networking opportunities among CBOs. DYCD hosts learning communities such as the Collaboration Lab, where providers can learn best practices and share learnings around building partnerships with peers. The target audience for this toolkit is individuals and entities who are looking to strengthen partnerships that are moving from the coordinate to the cooperate stage, fully in the cooperate stage or wanting to invest in full-blown collaboration.

The content of this toolkit has been developed from the learnings of the Collaboration Lab[1] and the 40 years of experience in community building of our partner, Community Resource Exchange[2]. The toolkit is also supported by research conducted by Amherst H. Wilder Foundation Factors influencing successful collaboration [3] which highlights key success factors to consider for any collaboration.

This toolkit builds on the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation research and identifies a set of key success factors for strategic partnerships which have been categorized into the following building blocks:

  1. Trust (Do you trust your partner? Do they trust you?)
  2. Partnership Readiness (Are you ready to partner?)
  3. Vision Goals and Outcomes (What do you want to achieve through the partnership?)
  4. Partnership Agreements (How do you want to work with your partner?)
  5. Partnership Evaluation & Assessment (How do you know you are being successful in your partnership?)

The toolkit provides an overview of each of the building blocks and their corresponding success factors as well as providing some tools and exercises for strengthening each building block. Each tool/exercise covers:

  • Purpose of the tool/ exercise
    • The results for your partnership
    • Materials needed
    • Steps for the tool/exercise

This guide is written in sections, so readers should feel free to find the content that is most relevant to them.


[1] The Collaboration Lab is a cohort program that bring providers and their partners together to explore best practices for strengthening partnerships, learn new skills and share expertise with each other.  All DYCD providers have an opportunity to apply for The Collaboration Lab which is run each year by our partner Community Resource Exchange.

[2] CRE is a nonprofit consulting firm that provides the strategies and tools needed to build sustainable, high-performing organizations that improve people’s lives and drive social change. CRE partners with nonprofits, foundations, and government agencies.

[3] Mattesich, Paul W., Murray-close, Marta, Monsey Barbara r. Wilder Research Center. Collaboration: What Makes it Work: A review of research literature on Factors influencing successful collaboration. 2nd Edition, Amherst H.Wilder Foundation, Saint Paul Minnesota, 2001.