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The Collaboration Conference 2015

November 16–17, 2015

Houston, Texas

C4 Case Study Conversation: An Alabama Nonprofit Partnership Developed to Benefit Young Children

Monday, November 16, 2015 at 2:45 PM–4:30 PM CST
Arboretum 1-2 (Second Level)

Join this conversation to discuss the ins and outs of building and sustaining a long-term statewide advocacy coalition supported by a core group of funders. Hear from two members of the coalition about the partners’ process for building trust and creating well-defined roles, and the rationale for supporting coalition building and grassroots organizing. Help troubleshoot how to maintain support and interest in a narrow issue when progress is steady but slow and other community challenges or collaborative opportunities arise.

In 2006, less than 2 percent of Alabama’s children were served by state-funded pre-K programs. Seeking to expand availability and access to high-quality pre-K, three statewide nonprofits joined together with Alabama Giving, the state’s grantmaker network, to form the Alabama School Readiness Alliance. ASRA builds support for pre-K expansion by collaborating with civic leaders, advocating for increased public and private funding, and raising public awareness. ASRA’s partner nonprofits spent a year planning, codifying roles and developing operating procedures for their coalition. This infrastructure allowed members to effectively leverage each other’s strengths, attract funding from 18 foundations and 18 corporations, build a cross-sector network, and improve pre-K access for children. Despite the coalition’s longevity, unified voice and numerous state-level wins, partners now are wrestling with how to maintain longterm
support for their single-issue agenda and determine the right lifespan for their collaboration.


Collaboration Fast Facts:

Primary Points Of Contact

Jera G. Stribling, Alabama Giving

Session Designers


Jera G. Stribling, Alabama Giving

Jera Stribling is the Executive Director of the Joseph S. Bruno Foundation, Executive Director of Alabama Giving, a state grantmaker network and Board Chair of the Gratitude Foundation. Jera has consulted with foundations on governance, organizational development and strategic planning. 

She served as the first Executive Director of the Alabama Power Company Foundation and worked in Marketing and Corporate Communications there and Duke Power Company.  As the founder of Voices for Alabama’s Children, the Nonprofit Resource Center of Alabama, and Alabama Giving, she recruited board members, and secured foundation partners.

Jera is a graduate of the University of Alabama and Leadership Birmingham.  She is a past board member of the Southeastern Council of Foundations and the YWCA of Central Alabama.  She currently chairs the Alabama School Readiness Alliance and serves on Advisory Boards for the University of Alabama, Auburn University, and Birmingham Southern College. 


Caroline Novak, A+ Education Partnership

Caroline co-founded A+ Education Partnership in 1991 to promote excellent educational opportunities for all of Alabama’s students. A+ advances policies and practices to ensure that every child graduates from high school prepared for success in college, work and citizenship.

Caroline led development of the state’s Reading Initiative and then expanded the focus of A+ to work directly with schools and districts. The Alabama Best Practices Center was established as a division to facilitate adult learning. A+ College Ready was created to increase access and success in Advancement Placement courses and to increase the pipeline of students prepared for college level rigor. A+ also focuses on policies to increase teaching quality.

Caroline helped establish a coalition of 4 organizations, the Alabama School Readiness Alliance, to promote expansion of high quality pre-k. She also organized and chairs a statewide coalition of 45 organizations supporting college and career readiness for all students, Alabama GRIT Graduate Ready. Impact Tomorrow.

Lori Bartczak, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (moderator)

Lori Bartczak is vice president of programs at GEO. In this role, Lori sets strategy for GEO’s content and services, including publishing, conferences and peer learning programs and serves as a key spokesperson for the organization. Lori has written numerous publications and articles on topics related to philanthropic effectiveness. Prior to joining GEO in 2002, Lori was publications editor at BoardSource. Lori is an active volunteer in her community, serving on various committees for her church, her sons’ school and the local education foundation. Lori holds bachelor’s degrees in journalism and English from the University of Missouri - Columbia, and a master’s of arts degree in philanthropic studies from Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy. 

Session Materials