Social networks -- or interconnections between people who rely on each other for the exchange of ideas, resources and information -- enable families to reach a wide and diverse array of relationships and gain access to quality services, as well as drive and shape the programs that serve them. Social network theory is put into practice by the Denver Social Network Partnership, formed by The Piton Foundation as part if its Strengthening Communities program area. The partnership is a growing network of organizations that deliver services to support low-income families or families who otherwise feel disconnected due to barriers created by poverty, language, and cultural differences.
Current partners include the African Community Center, Center for Work Education and Employment (CWEE), The Denver Foundation, Dress for Success, Emily Griffith Opportunity School, Making Connections--Denver, Mercy Housing, Rocky Mountain Survivor Center, The Spring Institute, Project Wise and the Workplace Learning Project at the Community College of Denver.
A Community of Practice
Realizing that the way organizations deliver programs and services can make a significant difference in their effectiveness and impact, social network partners strive to increase access to quality programs and address the structural barriers and inequities that exist in the service delivery system. Social network organizations are committed to observing their own practices, sharing experiences with other groups in a learning environment, approaching innovation and internal change processes as paths to success, and creating a mechanism for ongoing self-evaluation. Individually and collectively, social network organizations strive to create positive, sustainable outcomes for individuals, families and communities.
The Network in Action
New strategies that the partners are using include: connecting participants to networks of their peers who have made a successful transition from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to work; organizational development to retrain staff to act more as "coaches and team members"; and hosting community dinners to provide space for participants to build relationships. In June 2008, the network held a week-long "immersion" event, which brought together social network practitioners, both locally and from other parts of the country, to spend time learning from each other ways to be more effective using social network principles in their work.
Denver Social Network Partners Fact Sheet
The Four Principles of Social Networks
Ties that Bind: The Practice of Social Networks
Social Networks Partner Web Site
African Community Center
Center for Work Education and Employment
Community College of Denver
The Denver Foundation
Dress for Success
Emily Griffith Opportunity School
Making Connections - Denver
Rocky Mountain Survivor Center
The Spring Institute
The Annie E. Casey Foundation
Lawrence Community Works