Partnerships

Learning Objectives–At the end of this module, you will be able to:

  1. understand the importance of partnership to support LGBTQ2S youth.
  2. identify the ability of partner organizations to provide safe enough spaces for LGBTQ2S youth.
  3. identity considerations for new potential partnerships.

Collaboration can be defined as two or more different partners (e.g. individuals, organizations, networks) coming together from various sectors, groups or regions to work toward common goals. Collaborative arrangements span a wide continuum and include an extraordinary range of diverse partners that are collaborating through networks, learning groups or communities of practice, strategic alliances, partnerships, coalitions and mergers (Graham, 2010: 2).

Good partnerships take time and effort to develop organically over time. Partnerships need to be mutually beneficial for all organizations, but more importantly good partnerships must benefit mutual clients. We need to be able to measure the success of partnerships. How do we know our clients are benefiting? What is the feedback from our clients? Do they feel comfortable, supported and respected?

Who we partner with says a lot about our organizations.

As we work towards making our spaces safe enough for LGBTQ2S youth, we need to evaluate our partnerships to make sure that our partners are also doing the work to make their spaces safe enough. The first step would be develop criteria for determining if an organization is safe enough in the context of your community. In the Identifying Your Local Context module we shared a survey to measure organizational inclusivity. You may want to use the organizational survey at the very least. This will give the partnership group a baseline understanding of how LGBTQ2S inclusive partner organizations are.

If you have partnership meetings add the topic of “creating safe enough spaces for LGBTQ2S youth” to the agenda of meetings. A great starting point is to facilitate a discussion on the need to be LGBTQ2S inclusive. Once there is consensus at the partnership table a workplan can be developed to guide the required work.

If you do not have partnership meetings, you can still have conversations with your partners. You can begin the conversation by sharing the work that your organization has undertaken to become LGBTQ2S inclusive. This can be followed up with asking your partner organization what they are doing to become LGBTQ2S inclusive.

What If a Partner is Not Safe Enough

Very few organizations set out to be homophobic, biphobic and transphobic. Organizations that are struggling to be LGBTQ2S inclusive are generally in this position because of a lack of resource (accessible training, access to LGBTQ2S inclusive tools such as policy and procedures, inclusive forms etc.).

It is important that we are encouraging of our partners to improve their capacity to properly support LGBTQ2S youth. One of the worse things we can do is be seen as taking punitive actions. We need to maintain open communications with our partners.

Here are some recommendations you can make to partners who are struggling to the be LGBTQ2S inclusive:

  1. Recommend managers and staff of the partner organization schedule time to access this Toolkit as a first step.
  2. Keep “creating safe enough spaces for LGBTQ2S youth on the agenda of partner meetings. Partners can give updates on their work to move towards creating safe enough spaces for LGBTQ2S youth experiencing homelessness.
  3. Research the possibility of having a cross-organization training sessions with qualified LGBTQ2S trainers. This would ensure that all partnership program staff receive the same training and will have a shared understanding of the issues and needs of LGBTQ2S youth experiencing homelessness.
  4. Consider developing a train the trainer curriculum to assist partner organizations work towards becoming LGBTQ2S inclusive.

What if the partner organization is reluctant to undertake the work necessary to become LGBTQ2S inclusive? This can be a challenging issue for organizations. What if the partner organization is the only organization that provides a specific service or program? In our focus groups youth made it clear that it they need to be referred to programs and services that respect their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. It is important that we work from the mindset of doing what is the in best interest of youth we work with.

Considerations for New Partnerships

Your organization most likely already has a set of criteria for partnerships. It may not be written in a policy, but there are at the very least unwritten guidelines that are taken into consideration when exploring partnerships.

Here are a few things to consider when exploring new partnerships for a LGBTQ2S lens:

  1. What is the reputation of the potential partner in your local LGBTQ2S community?
  2. What is the reputation of the potential partner among LGBTQ2S youth who access your programs?
  3. What is their organizational service delivery philosophy?
  4. What training workshops are staff required to take to ensure staff work from anti-oppression framework?
  5. Be direct and ask them how well they are supporting LGBTQ2S youth who access their programs. You can also inquire about what policies they have in place. You can ask if they track the number of LGBTQ2S youth who access their programs and services.

Summary

It is important that as we develop welcoming and safe enough places for LGBTQ2S youth, we also need to do our best to ensure that other services and programs youth access while with us are supportive, welcoming and safe enough. Bad referrals can tarnish our reputation with youth.

Sources:

Compassion Capital Fund National Resource Center. (2010). Retrieved February 10, 2015, from http://strengtheningnonprofits.org/resources/guidebooks/Partnerships.pdf

Forty to None Project

Graham, H., Lang, C., & Mollenhauer, L. (2010, September). Building Collaboration In and With the Nonprofit Sector. Retrieved February 10, 2015, from http://www.mollenhauer.ca/pdfs/ONN Building_Collaboration.pdf

Parkinson, C. (2006). Retrieved February 10, 2015, from http://www.cfc-fcc.ca/link_docs/collaborationReport.pdf

http://communityservicelearning.ca/en/documents/EnhancingValueforNonprofitCommunityPartners.pdf

http://www.forbes.com/sites/geristengel/2013/04/09/nonprofit-collaborations-why-teaming-up-can-make-sense/

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