Boulder County Allies for Inclusion (BCAFI) vision statement: We believe that Boulder County is a diverse and inclusive community that is transformed by valuing and celebrating the unique history and expression of each person’s full identity (including the full spectrum of gender and sexual expression).
Our agendas, meeting notes, and other documents are all located here!
We are co-led by Andrea Poiniers and and supported by Out Boulder and the Boulder County Public Health. We meet bi-monthly and you can join us by contacting Andrea to get details.
Who are the Boulder County Allies for Inclusion?
Boulder County Allies for Inclusion (BCAFI) is a coalition of persons and organizations whose individual and collective efforts contribute to the vision of a community that values and celebrates each person’s unique identity. In 2012, BCAFI members identified key strategies for collective action that promote welcoming and inclusive services, institutions and communities in Boulder County. Some of these strategies are already being implemented by organizations in Boulder County and BCAFI strives to ensure that activities are coordinated and mutually reinforcing. Where there are gaps, we identify attitudes and actions that each of us and our organizations can adopt to create inclusion for all persons we interact with. If enough of us have made these changes, and encouraged others to do so, we can change the norms in the community.
What is an example of BCAFI’s efforts?
BCAFI formed a positive messaging work group to change the way we talk about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning people (LGBTQ). LGBTQ individuals generally face greater prejudice and discrimination than their heterosexual and cisgender peers and these experiences sometimes lead to
increased health and mental health risks. While it’s important to acknowledge and address these risks, the way we talk about it can convey the impression that being LGBTIQ is the problem, when in fact the problem isrooted in the stigma and oppression affecting LGBTQ persons. How we look at this determines where we—or our funders, or our supporters, or our detractors—will put our energy: Will we focus on individuals and/or on action for community change? The positive messaging work group developed and distributed a set of guidelines that can help organizations use positive language in writing grants, developing fundraising materialsand in general discussion. In addition, members of the work group are meeting with foundations and other funders to advance positive messaging as a social norm.
Who is included?
The BCAFI vision statement describes a community where all persons are valued and celebrated for their unique identities. Although BCAFI began its efforts by exploring inclusion for LGBTQ persons, the value of inclusion and the coalition’s actions toward inclusion have universal application. BCAFI welcomes participation, discussion and action on inclusion across a spectrum of marginalized groups and communities in Boulder County.
We use Collective Impact as our stragegy, which you can read a short summary of below.
BCAFI uses the best practices model of collective impact as outlined in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. Collective impact is the most effective method for dealing with adaptive social problems, such as inclusion and equity because these problems are often too large to be addressed by one single organization and too complex to have one direct answer. This means that large-scale social change requires broad cross-sector coordination. BCAFI uses the 5 key components identified by the SSIR to leverage the power of art to amplify the relevant messages of key civic organizations to address significant social problems in our community. These components are: common agenda, shared measuring systems, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication, and backbone support organizations.
Adaptive problems, by contrast, are complex, the answer is not known, and even if it were, no single entity has the resources or authority to bring about the necessary change. Our research shows that successful collective impact initiatives typically have five conditions that together produce true alignment and lead to powerful results:
Common Agenda | Collective Impact requires all participants to have a shared vision for change, one that includes a common understanding of the problem and a joint approach to solving it through agreed upon actions.
Shared Measurement Systems | Developing a shared measurement system is essential to collective impact. Agreement on a common agenda is illusory without agreement on the ways success will be measured and reported. Collecting data and measuring results consistently on a short list of indicators at the community level and across all participating organizations not only ensures that all efforts remain aligned, it also enables the participants to hold each other accountable and learn from each other’s successes and failures.
Mutually Reinforcing Activities | Collective Impact initiatives depend on a diverse group of stakeholders working together, not by requiring that all participants do the same thing, but by encouraging each participant to undertake the specific set of activities at which it excels in a way that supports and is coordinated with the actions of others.
Continuous Communication | Developing trust among nonprofits, corporations, and government agencies is a monumental challenge. Participants need several years of regular meetings to build up enough experience with each other to recognize and appreciate the common motivation behind their different efforts. They need time to see that their own interests will be treated fairly, and that decisions will be made on the basis of objective evidence and the best possible solution to the problem, not to favor the priorities of one organization over another.
Backbone Support Organizations | Creating and managing collective impact requires a separate organization and staff with a very specific set of skills to serve as the backbone for the entire initiative. Coordination takes time, and none of the participating organizations has any to spare. The expectation that collaboration can occur without a supporting infrastructure is one of the most frequent reasons why it fails.