The efforts of your coalition or system may also benefit from one of our popular
Power of Collaborative Solutions: Six Principles and Effective Tools
for Building Healthy Communities
by Tom Wolff
Published by Jossey-Bass/John Wiley in February 2010. Book is now
Foreword by Neal Peirce – nationally syndicated columnist with
the Washington Post Writers Group
All books sold from this web site will be signed by the author.
Click here for the Table of Contents
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Praise for The Power of Collaborative Solutions:
- Click here for a review published in The Community Psychologist
- Click here for a review published in The Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice
- Click here for a review published in the National Civic Review
The Power of Collaborative Solutions from Loren Feinstein on Vimeo.
The Power of Collaborative Solutions is the culmination of thirty
years of community work that I have participated in. My goal in writing
the book is to help other people discover the amazing power I have
witnessed in communities that work together to solve their own biggest
problems. Inside you will find six key principles for success
in building health communities, along with easy-to-use, effective tools
and inspiring stories of ways that people have rediscovered democracy
and turned their communities around.
The Power of Collaborative Solutions is timely—because we need
solutions to serious social problems now. The collaborative process
is innovative because it includes the full broad spectrum of community
members, offering methods of empowering all citizens to be capable
actors in their personal and community lives.
This book, like the work it encourages, is based on a broad and deep
vision of community. I hope that in these pages:
- Grassroots leaders will find both encouragement and methods they
can use to address community issues.
- Community residents will discover the inspiration to tackle the
local issue that they have been mulling about, whether that is building
a new playground, reducing violence, improving school, or finding
a way to help and be helped by the isolated elderly members of their
- Professionals in the helping system will be inspired to address
the dysfunctions in that system and to make their existing coalitions
far more effective and enjoyable.
- Community problem-solvers will see the strengths of a collaborative
approach and will find new tools to help them reach their goals.
- Anyone who designs systems for communities will see the urgency
of working across “silos,” thinking of the community
as a vital whole rather than a collection of detached parts.
- Teachers and students will encounter principles, stories, and tools
to invigorate their classes and to help them keep their ideals alive
when they take theory into the real world.
There is a strong spiritual component to my journey and to the work
of community collaboration. Seeking collaborative solutions calls on
us to engage communities with acceptance and appreciation, to work
with various groups with deep compassion, and ultimately to understand
our deep interdependence on each other. When we pursue our spiritual
purpose in this work, we come to understand that indeed we are one,
and that we can do together things we cannot do apart.
(the above is an excerpt from The Power of Collaborative Solutions)
Wow! . . . I literally couldn't stop reading...not something
one normally says about a book by a professional in any field!
This is a truly transformative book and a “must
read” for anyone concerned with overcoming the limits of the
possible through collaborative action. Tom Wolff crafts a path
to change that is at once visionary and achievable. Interweaving
poignant stories and hard facts, he reminds us of what’s at stake – and
shows us the dramatic difference we can make by committing to bold
new visions of collaboration and community.
Minkler, Professor of Health and Social Behavior, University
of California, Berkeley, and co-author of Community-based Participatory
Research for Health (Jossey-Bass, 2008)
If you want to bring about sustained positive change in your community,
read this book. The stories will inspire you, and the lessons will
shine a light on your leadership path.
Norris, Founding President, Community Initiatives
Why collaborate? Because that's how to
make change, now and in the future.
Here you'll find not just theory, but also the hard-won, down-to-earth
detail on how to make collaboration work where
you live and act.
If you are a practitioner or academic looking to energize and
strengthen your collaborative skills, Tom Wolff's The Power
of Collaborative Solutions will pay dividends many times
Berkowitz, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, University
of Massachusetts Lowell
Tom’s passion for social justice is equaled only by his courage
and commitment to progressive causes. Tom has a tremendous fount of
knowledge and he knows just what to do with it and how to help others
use it. He makes quick connections to practice and research and vice
versa. His kind and commonsensical manner means that his intellect
Bowen, Institute for Community Peace, Washington, DC
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From the Ground Up: A Workbook
on Coalition Building and Community Development
NOW IN ITS 4TH PRINTING!
Coalition building and community development are two powerful interventions
to create healthy communities. This helpful workbook is a complete toolbox
for effectively building these complex, community-wide processes. It shares
field ideas, frameworks and exercises that have evolved from the authors'
work in communities across the country.
Renowned authors in the field of community development wrote the chapters
for this book, including: David Chavis, Stephen Fawcett, Vince Francisco, David
Foster, Gillian Kaye, Beth Rosenthal, and Tom Wolff.
"Looking for a 'toolbox' for building coalitions and developing healthy
communities? I've finally found a workbook that brings it all together. From
the Ground Up! speaks to the everyday work of coalition coordinators and community
organizers Organizers!" Chapter titles include:
- Barriers to Coalition Building and Strategies to Overcome Them
- Involving and Mobilizing the Grassroots
- Dealing with Conflict in Coalitions
- Community Assessment: A Key Tool for Mobilization and Involvement
- Monitoring and Evaluation of Coalition Activities and Successes 200-pages,
Includes hands-on worksheets
For all orders of From the Ground Up you can order directly
from Tom Wolff & Associates
order form (pdf).
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The Spirit of the Coalition
“A lively and highly accessible book filled with real world illustrations
and a wealth of practical tools” —Meredith Minkler Dr.P.H., University
of California, Berkeley (259 pages, paperback)
Order from The American Public Health Association
or Click here to order
Sustaining what has already been developed and shown to be working is uppermost in people’s minds. However, when our only way of thinking of sustainability is finding replacement dollars for our present funding then we are in serious trouble in an economic downturn. I have preached a four pronged approach to sustainability for many years. A full description of the process with all the tools and worksheets is available for free through the Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice at http://www.gjcpp.org/en/index.php?issue=1
Through the approach I have described we can understand sustainability as going beyond seeking dollars and think about sustaining our work through:
Policy change Example: Anti smoking coalitions created bans on smoking in restaurants that continued after the coalitions faded away
Institutionalizing our programs in other organizations in the community. Example: With careful preparation and negotiation, after school programs successfully created by coalitions or agencies, can be adopted by community institutions like the YMCA.
Community ownership – helping the community to create the norm changes that will eliminate the need for our programs. Example: Once smoking cessation activities took hold in a community, the community became the voice for banning smoking in many settings. The norm had changed. The community no longer tolerated smoking.
Two particular worksheets from the article summarize the two major questions and will be especially helpful to you in your sustainability planning: The two questions: What do you want to sustain? How will you do it?
Click here for the Internal Outcomes: Roles Filled by the Coalition Worksheet
Click here for the External Community Outcomes Worksheet
This tool, which was originally published in From the Ground Up: A
Workbook on Coalition Building and Community Development (Wolff
and Kaye, 1995 http://www.tomwolff.com/coalition-empowerment-self-assessment-tool.htm,
helps a coalition examine empowerment as an aspect of all its work: goals
and objectives, membership, communication, decision-making, leadership
and leadership development, use of resources, coalition activities, and
A comprehensive Levels of Assessment
Tool has been developed that describes
the range of questions we can choose from when we document our coalitions’ work. We
use this list to help clients decide what they want to learn about through
documentation and evaluation. In a collaborative participatory evaluation
process, the members of the coalition and the community can review these
questions to decide what is most important for them to know. This helps ensure
that the evaluation is aimed at the key needs of the coalition’s members.
The Coalition Member
Assessment tool is a variation of earlier satisfaction
surveys that allow members
to rate their coalition on a 1-5 scale, from agree to strongly disagree.
The instrument has 44 rated questions and a few open-ended questions.
Customized Resources and Published Materials
As programs develop, many organizations need customized
training manuals, curricula or other written materials tailored
to support specific initiatives. We have developed these customized materials
for many organizations who are using them in communities across the country.
The Boston Foundation – Boston Community Building Curriculum- Principle
V “Ensuring Access to Fundamental Opportunities” This comprehensive
training module covers – creating a vision, community organizing, creating
a coalition, developing a and tactical plan. Part of a seven-part curriculum.
American Cancer Society – Community Development Manual – Curriculum
for ACS outreach staff across the country based on training workshops delivered
by Tom Wolff and Gillian Kaye.
Many of our free resources are provided in Adobe's PDF format. If you don't already have Adobe Acrobat Reader, you may download it at no cost from Adobe Systems
The following Coalition Building Tip Sheets are two page summaries of key points
on many critical issues in seeking collaborative solution. They were originally
published as inserts in the Community Catalyst, the newsletter of Community
Partners. They have been used and reproduced widely over the past ten years.
Coalition Building Tip Sheets (pdf)
The three articles that follow are recent publications by Tom Wolff that review
the field of practice and research in community coalition building, healthy communities
and collaborative evaluation.
Recent Articles by Tom Wolff
- Community Coalition Building –
Contemporary Practice and Research (pdf)
Published in the American Journal of Community Psychology, Vol. 29, no.2, 2001
Introduction p. 165-172 A Practitioner’s Guide to Successful Coalitions
These articles identify nine key dimensions related to coalition success and delineate
- A Practical Approach to Evaluating
Chapter in Evaluating Community Collaborations Edited by Thomas Backer, Springer
Publishing, New York 2003
To purchase contact Springer Publishing
This chapter answers your key concerns in designing an evaluation of your collaborative
and provides nine useful tools for both process and outcome evaluation of coalitions.
- The Healthy Communities: Movement a
National Civic Review, Vol. 92, Number 2, Summer, 2003, p.95-112
This recent article looks at some of the challenges that the healthy communities
movement faces and draws on the experience of Healthy Communities Massachusetts
to suggest ways that practitioners can reenergize their efforts.
Solutions: Building Community in New Orleans and Across America, Tom Wolff
American Psychological Association Convention, Invited Address, 8/12/06
invited address Tom Wolff spells out the six components of Collaborative Solutions
with community stories to illustrate each component.
- My Life as a Community
Activist, Tom Wolff Ph.D.
Chapter in James G. Kelly and Anna V. Song, Community Psychology
in Practice: An Oral History through the Stories of Five Community Psychologists.
Journal of Prevention and Intervention in the Community, v. 35, no. 1.
New York: Haworth Press: 2008, pages 61–80.In this chapter the author
recounts his life as a social justice activist and community psychology
practitioner. He shares his upbringing, family, and education and his experiences
working in a variety of settings. The story shows an evolution from working
with individuals to working with whole communities, from working on issues
of remediation to working on prevention and finally focusing on empowerment,
social change, and social justice.