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New Company Will Help Make Community Coalitions More Effective

The Forum for Youth Investment has launched a significant expansion of its services to help communities achieve collective impact for young people.
Information Update
February 21, 2013

The Forum has joined forces with the team that built Community Systems Group Inc. – a national leader in boosting the effectiveness of community coalitions – to create a new affiliate: Community Systems Group, LLC. The new company will deliver a range of field-tested services to help coalitions evaluate and improve their work.

Paul Evensen

“This expands the Forum’s capacity to deliver a full menu of supports for community change efforts – marking one of several impending steps in our development of a-to-z supports for communities and states,” said Forum CEO Karen Pittman.

Community Systems Group, LLC (CSG) helps coalitions diagnose the causes behind specific community issues and develop plans to address those causes. Its services include:

  • developing monitoring systems to capture the activities of coalitions and analyze their impact;
  • helping to decide what data to collect(including well-being indicators) and how to ensure the quality of that data;
  • creating process evaluations to help coalitions improve their organization and processes;
  • evaluating programs and interventions that the coalitions support.

Pittman said the move signals the start of an expansion by the Forum to deliver new services through Ready by 21, including a new data platform for more powerful analytics, and a certification process to give communities credit for what they’ve accomplished. These services are being developed through new business partnerships that will soon be announced, she said.

Benefits of CSG
CSG Inc. had been a partner with the Forum since 2009, supporting coalitions that carry out the Forum’s signature initiative – Ready by 21 – in communities and evaluating their progress.  Other CSG clients have included national foundations (such as the Marguerite Casey Foundation), local foundations (such as the Mary Black Foundation), government agencies (such as the Executive Office of the President/Office of National Drug Control Policy) and community coalitions working on issues from immunization and literacy to teen pregnancy and substance abuse.

“The more we worked with the Forum, the more we saw the power of combining our expertise,” said Paul Evensen, who co-founded CSG Inc. in 1999 and served as its president. He noted that the Forum helps communities improve youth services and supports by providing tools and technical assistance that build community capacity for fundamental, long-term change. CSG Inc. helped communities improve social conditions by evaluating and strengthening the very groups that the Forum works with.

In Pennsylvania, for example, “CSG’s consulting team has given our coalition a clearer focus,” said Zeta Adcock, prevention program specialist at the Bedford County Prevention Partnership. Margaret Appel, program director of the Drug Free Youth Coalition (Ohio), says, “The products and services provided by CSG have enabled the coalition to improve outcomes through tracking community change.”

The immediate tasks for the new company include completing a national cross-site evaluation of communities implementing Ready by 21 strategies; providing data analysis and reporting to Ready by 21 sites; and creating data collection tools to help communities better understand their youth outcomes and the quality of their developmental pipelines.

Pittman noted that CSG’s work fits perfectly with the other new services soon to be announced. Carrying out the Forum’s enhanced professional development and supports, as well as using the data platform to document efforts-to-outcomes, will help communities achieve certification for their work.

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