Community Boards in Action – In Spades!

Report on the Community Boards in Action Project – August 2014

New ground has been broken through the successful implementation of the Community Boards in Action project.  A report on this project follows. Our thanks to the Vancouver Foundation and the efforts of local.hands_104210

community board members and agency E.D.s for helping us to fulfil one of Board Voice’s important functions: that of linking social services boards together to learn, share and build community.

Board Voice recently reported back to the Vancouver Foundation on Community Boards n Action and the following is a short excerpt from that report which provides a snapshot of various projects around the province. The words don’t do justice to the time and effort, largely volunteer, which brought these projects to life in each community.  Nor do they adequately reflect the many intangible results. New ground has been broken and we anticipate that positive results will continue to flow from these efforts.


From the report…

“The key success so far is that ten communities have created inter-board committees devoted to convening community conversations about improving their communities.  All projects have convened numerous planning and community sessions and others are planning new gatherings for the fall of 2014.  All of these projects are breaking new ground in bringing boards together.


Victoria – Victoria Boards Together is partnering with the Victoria Volunteer Bureau to implement this project. The initial budget of 2K has grown to 30+K through local fundraising.  To date, 96 youth have been involved in governance training and 10 boards have been trained in youth engagement strategies.  Board training has morphed into board orientation training as well.

Although not a specific part of the project, the Victoria Boards Together group continues to convene training sessions on various topics important to board members. (Most recent topics: Fraud Revealed and Evaluating your Board).

Prince George – Broad partnership including local community social service providers, the United Way of Northern BC and the University of Northern BC School of Social Work, Community Development Institute, and Alumni Association.   Three training sessions were held with youth:

•            Community Social Services: What are they and why get involved?

•            Board of Directors: What roles and responsibilities?

•            Voice of Youth: What youth can and are contributing.

And a Board Fair was held: Agency information booths – A time for agencies to engage with each other and with interested youth, attended by 30 youth and 20 agencies.  As of today, 10 youth are now on community boards as a result.  A follow up session on the Board’s Fair is planned.

Surrey – Three dinner and governance training sessions have been held with seven agency boards.  A future series of training sessions is planned for Surrey and surrounding communities over the next two years.  Additionally, three agencies have been meeting to develop a TOR/MOU between them.  The training sessions have been a useful way to build trust.  The next developments, which will look at service delivery, may be more difficult.  Outcomes have been achieved in improved board governance and collaborative action planning. An additional 20K over two years has been leveraged to support inter-board development in the area.

North Island (Sointula and environs) – This project was delayed due to the fact that the two key agencies lost their EDs and the boards have been in some disarray.  Governance training sessions are being planned for the fall.

Cowichan Valley – Perhaps the most advanced group involving hundreds of people in the area, Cowichan has had the following outcomes over the past several years:

The development of a joint initiative of Volunteer Cowichan and the Cowichan Campus of Vancouver Island University of training for board directors in sustainable funding; building a strong foundation for an organization; financial literacy; and building collaborative relationships.

A workshop for board directors on the skills required for collaboration.

Using the determinants of health framework to explore possibilities for partnerships and sharing resources amongst organizations that have common programs and services

A Memorandum of Understanding amongst four agencies to develop opportunities to share resources

Exploring the Local Health Area results and their meaning for the community and organizations

Presentation to Chamber of Commerce on the impact of social services on the economy of the area

Training on reverse design and its application to social services.

100 Mile House – 20 agencies and organizations and 45 people were involved in a day-long governance training workshop. A second workshop is planned for October 2014 and plans are to continue this work bi-annually.  The group will also be looking at other potential collaborative projects in the future. Great networking amongst boards and an acknowledgement of the important work boards accomplish.

Kamloops – 60 agencies to be involved an on-going, non-profit planning group in Kamloops. The City of Kamloops is involved.  Initial outcomes:  Spreadsheet of agencies mission/vision data. Document with identification of themes. Document of themes relating to Kamloops Social Plan.

Kelowna – 61 agencies/organizations and 140 people were brought together in Kelowna for a Board Impact Forum.  Annual events are being considered. Enhanced community understanding of the value of community services, enhanced partnerships between agencies and better understanding of some of the board training available.   Priorities developed by the community were for improved governance and building community knowledge of services. An annual session being considered.

Vancouver – Key member agency boards from the Lower Mainland decided to focus on a policy area they felt could critically improve service delivery in B.C. They developed a statement There is a Better Way which asked agencies and organizations to sign onto the statement asking for a Social Planning Framework for B.C.  More than 35 agencies have done so.  They have also been central to the effort to have Municipal Councils and Boards of Trade adopt this idea.  Most of the lower mainland councils have adopted a resolution in this regard which will go to UBCM in the fall. An additional $10K has been leveraged for this project in Vancouver.

Sunshine Coast – The Sunshine Coast inter-board group, supported through Board Voice, after a spectacular full day session in 2012, which included politicians, police and 80 other community stakeholders, focussed on the future of information and referral services and community volunteer engagement and coordination on the Sunshine Coast.  A joint project was developed out of this initial conversation to establish a 211 pilot project which is now running successfully.  The group then decided to conduct training in Fierce Conversations, which has led two key agencies to commit to the development of a declaration about their working relationship and collaboration.