The Germantown Systemic Change Initiative (GSCI) is a project aimed at improving the lives of the vulnerable citizens of the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia by building meaningful collaboration among community-based organizations and creating a collective force for change in the community. Ten Vincentian-affiliated organizations champion the project. The DePaul Catholic School, Depaul USA, the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, Face to Face, Inn Dwelling, and My Place Germantown are the direct-service organizations piloting this collective impact approach. We aim to measurably improve education, employment, health, income, and housing outcomes for members of the community.GSCI serves as the backbone organization in the collective impact model, guiding vision and strategy by building a common agenda, facilitating continuous communication, establishing shared measurement practices among multiple organizations, and creating mutually reinforcing activities among currently isolated actors. Our collective goal is that 2,000 people in Germantown will move beyond the experience of poverty by 2020, changing the systems and structures in which they live.
We are establishing multiple shared measurements of progress to meet this goal. Unique to the GSCI collective impact model, efforts are focused on affecting systems at the resident, organization, and community levels. In addition to serving as a backbone organization, GSCI seeks to create a dynamic, place-based learning community to advance the conversation about implementing systemic change and increasing social impact at the local level. GSCI is in the second year of a three year start-up phase. By using this model, we can harness all of the great work that is currently happening in isolation through targeted, purposeful collaboration.