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CR May-June 2013

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PPPs Bow to Your Partner Government and philanthropy are coming together as never before. By James M. Ferris and Nicholas P.O. Williams As interest in partnerships between government and philanthropy conversations with receptive public officials, which, in turn, led to the gains momentum, new arrangements for how the two sectors office's creation. can work together to solve critical public problems are emerging. Building on the work of Andrew Wolk and Colleen Gross Ebinger, which examines innovations at the local and state level to advance entrepreneurship in government operations and problem solving in a more systemic way, we focus specifically on offices of strategic partnerships (OSPs) that catalyze partnerships between government and philanthropy. In this section we examine six offices: three municipal offices (Denver, Los Angeles and Newark); one state office (Michigan); and two federal offices (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Education). Motivations and Rationales While the conditions that create the imperative for government and philanthropy to work together are ripe, offices of strategic For example, the three city-level offices (Denver, Newark, and Los Angeles) had strong initial support from their respective mayors. In two of these cases (Denver and Newark) the idea of an office devoted to building relationships and partnering with the philanthropic sector stemmed from their mayor's prior experiences either as a philanthropist or working with foundations. The establishment of the offices at the federal level (Department of Education's Director of Strategic Partnerships and the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office for International and Philanthropic Innovation) was fostered by cabinet secretaries who recognized the value of partnering with the philanthropic sector and tapped leaders within the agency that had previous experience in philanthropy or with philanthropic partnerships. In contrast, the Office of Foundation Liaison for the State of Michigan, while partnerships are not automatic. A key impetus for their creation receiving support from the governor, was initially championed by is a champion who believes in the value of working across sectors. leaders of the Council of Michigan Foundations, who had a long A closer look at these six offices of strategic partnerships reveals history of working with the state on public policy issues. Similarly, that all were instigated by such a leader. In each case, there was the Los Angeles Office of Strategic Partnerships grew out of a close a leader who, based on previous experiences, understood the collaboration between a few philanthropic leaders and the mayor's potential advantage of philanthropic-government partnerships and chief of staff and liaison to philanthropy. encouraged that approach. To them, public-private partnerships are not an abstract idea, but rather a tangible strategy for public Organizational Structures problem solving. These offices are a way of incubating that mindset All of the offices are relatively small in terms of budget and staff. in government. This is particularly the case where we have individuals They primarily comprise a principal position and one to three who have prior experience working with philanthropy. But there supporting staff, with the exception of the offices in Newark and are also instances where leaders from philanthropy initiated the the Department of Education, which have a sole person. There [22] CR MAGAZINE | MAY/JUNE 2013

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