Dear Thread Members and Friends,
As many of you know, Thread has spent much of its time and energy this year on the fundamental task of clarifying who we are and what we stand for – a task that, today, seems especially relevant as those of us engaged in community change work are forced to operate in a chaotic, confusing, and threatening social and political environment. After many months prioritizing this task, we are pleased to submit to you our refreshed Mission, Vision, Member Statement, and Guiding Principles. We think they are more important now than ever.
Although the process of clarifying our Guiding Principles started within the Steering Committee, it was in response to questions that we received shortly after we launched, including “What is Thread and what is Thread’s vision?,” “who is Thread trying to serve?,” and “what values will guide Thread?” The Steering Committee took these questions seriously and devoted a lot of time to craft an initial Mission, Member Statement, and set of Guiding Principles to offer for feedback from our stakeholders.
An essential part of this process was to engage the experts in helping us answer these questions…and because we envision strong community partnerships, our region’s community partnership and coalition leaders (that’s YOU!), are the experts we needed to engage! We received thoughtful and constructive feedback from over 30 of you in response to our draft materials that were released at our Annual Meeting in April, and in one-on-one conversations throughout the months of May and into June.
From the hatred and vile behavior that was on display last weekend in Charlottesville, to the more subtle forms of racism and bigotry that occur every day, we are reminded of how essential it is for us to live into our own Guiding Principles. In the spirit of the work Thread members do every day, we, as an organization, are committed to working in partnership to:
- Lift up community voice to advance the work of equity in defiance of those who wish to stifle it;
- Understand our nation’s divisions are rooted in social and economic injustice and structural racism, and advocate for equity and justice at every table we sit at, in every room we show up in, in every partnership we facilitate and participate in, and to every funder we receive support from;
- Identify, celebrate, and share the skills, knowledge, and assets inherent in all, and leverage them to strengthen our programs, organizations, partnerships, and sector;
- Use data and evidence to continuously assess, reflect, learn, and grow to further our impact and work towards our vision of an equitable, just, and thriving St. Louis region.
So, during this time while most of us are still processing the tragic events of this weekend, we’re pleased to share with you the resulting product of our months-long journey to define our group’s Mission, Vision, Member Statement, and Guiding Principles (the full text is available at the bottom of this post). Although we’ve removed the word “draft” from the document, we do not see this as a final product. Thread is a work in progress and the Steering Committee commits to reviewing and reflecting on these statements regularly and we hope to continue to do this alongside you, our members and friends. We also know that as an entity, we have our own work to do to live up to our own Guiding Principles and we invite you to hold us accountable to them. Additionally, we know we have some work to do to build programming that is mission-aligned.
If you find yourself in need of more time to process the events in Charlottesville, or if you’d like to think about how as a community change agent you can help respond to the hatred and violence our country is experiencing, we found these thought-pieces from Nonprofit Quarterly and Nonprofit AF helpful places to start.
Lastly, we’ve heard from you that your work as community partnership and coalition leaders can be incredibly rewarding but also at times feels lonely and is often misunderstood. Our hope is that moving forward, Thread is a true community of practice, here to support and sustain you in your important work, especially when it feels extra tough. So, if you need some support, reach out to one of your fellow Thread members or to us — that’s what we’re all here for.
Thread STL is a peer learning community that builds and sustains the skills and passion of partnership leaders.
We envision strong community partnerships building an equitable, just, and thriving St. Louis region.
Thread STL was created by and for community change makers. As a peer learning community, members share a commitment to community partnership as an expectation for sustainable, impactful community change, as well as a commitment to learning and development.
Thread primarily seeks to serve those whose role is to lead or manage a community partnership—in a full-time, part-time, or unpaid capacity—and those who provide crucial resources to support community partnerships, including funders, advocates, and advisors.
How does Thread define “community partnership”?
Thread STL defines “community partnership” as a group of stakeholders working to achieve shared goals within a community. Examples include an association working at the neighborhood level to reduce crime, a team working regionally to improve graduation rates, or a partnership working to address lead abatement in one municipality. Participants often come from multiple sectors typically including faith, arts and culture, business, community development, social service organizations, health, media, government, law enforcement, and education. These groups are sometimes also called alliances, or councils, as well as, partnerships and coalitions.
Our Guiding Principles
The following principles form the core of what we value and how we behave as an organization. We commit to uphold these values within Thread and ask our members to do the same within their own work.
Authentic Community Voice
No decision about us without us.
We are authentic when we put community at the center, working with, not for or on behalf of, our constituencies. This is rooted in mutual trust and relationships.
– Within Thread, our community is primarily our members. We actively listen to our members and seek their input to determine our agenda and make key decisions. We create and model structures and processes that build member commitment and leadership.
– We expect Thread members to put their community at the center of their own efforts, authentically listenting to their constituents.
Equity & Justice
Equity is the only acceptable goal. -Paul Farmer
We acknowledge that the divisions in our region are rooted in social and economic injustice and structural racism.
– Within Thread, we commit to promoting equity and justice within our structure, processes, and programs, seeking guidance from experts when it is needed and support our members through their own efforts to uphold this principle.
– We expect Thread members to be deliberate about pursuing their understanding of, acknowledging, and actively addressing inequity within their own work.
Build on Assets
Everyone has something to offer.
We know that our members have many strengths and assets from which to build and are a source of learning and inspiration.
– Within Thread, we seek to build on the strengths and assets of our members and create ways for them to share their best practices and celebrate their successes.
– We expect Thread members to acknowledge and build upon the strengths and assets of their partners and constituencies, recognizing that everyone has something valuable to contribute.
Learning never stops.
We further our impact when we use data and evidence to engage in continuous reflection, learning, and growth.
– Within Thread, we seek to foster a culture of learning by providing methods and tools that are grounded in experience and evidence for our members to use to integrate continuous learning.
– We expect Thread members to commit to use data and evidence to aid their own development and honor opportunities for growth, learning, and collaboration.