NOW Innovation Forum: A New Tool to Foster Peer Learning and Share Resources to Strengthen Trauma-Informed Systems

Diana Rivera
By Diana Rivera

All across the country, parents, providers, educators, and advocates have come together around a powerful vision: that each and every child, parent, and family can live whole lives and reach their full potential in healthy, thriving communities of opportunity. In neighborhoods, cities, counties, tribal nations, and states, community leaders have sought to center the people who are facing the greatest inequities in health, education, and access to early childhood resources and ensure they are driving sustainable, family-centered solutions. 

In Boston, Massachusetts, Vital Village Network at Boston Medical Center has sought to build local capacity through a trauma-informed lens to support systems alignment and collaboration across community-based early childhood health and education efforts. Since 2010, Vital Village has fostered partnerships between residents and organizations designed to improve the capacity of three Boston communities – Roxbury, Mattapan, and Dorchester – to promote child wellbeing and prevent early life adversities.

Over the years, we've learned that systems change cannot be done in isolation and that building local capacity is an ongoing progress that requires focused tools, responsive resources, and mechanisms for peer learning and exchange. We've also learned about the importance of fostering communities of practice – that collective and shared learning is critical, and cultivating stronger connections between residents and community-based organizations across the country has the potential for larger collective, sustainable impact.

With this in mind, we launched the Networks of Opportunity for Child Wellbeing (NOW) Learning Community, and with it, a new resource – the Networks of Opportunity for Child Wellbeing (NOW) Innovation ForumThe Forum is a new online hub that aims to support the work of community coalitions, leaders, and initiatives seeking to better align early childhood, health, and education systems by eliminating systemic barriers and bringing community-driven solutions to the forefront. It brings together resources, stories, discussions, innovations, and other interactive tools in a central hub to promote shared learning and networking across the field and among communities that are working around a common goal. 

Through this online platform, users will be able to access a wide range of resources and tools to increase the reach, scale, and sustainability of local efforts, including opportunities to:

  • Connect with and learn from community coalitions, local leaders, practitioners, advocates, and other stakeholders who are leading innovative efforts to align early childhood, education, and health systems to advance equity,
  • Understand the impact of childhood adversity and adverse community environments on wellbeing,
  • Share examples of local innovations and strategies from their own communities, and
  • Build community capacity in key levers of community change, including how to: utilize equity tools; develop inclusive, family-centered coalition structures and governance processes; mobilize broader community engagement and foster authentic community leadership; utilize data and storytelling tools to monitor progress, measure benchmarks of success, and communicate with diverse stakeholders and policymakers; and plan for sustainability

The NOW Innovation Forum is an ongoing project, and we invite you to take part in building up this resource by sharing your own stories, tools, and ideas. Here are a few ways to get involved:

We hope the NOW Innovation Forum can support the critical efforts you are leading, and invite you to share a resource or your story – we look forward to partnering with you in this work!

Posted In: NOW