The Value and Role of A Nonprofit Network: The Deep Work of The Partnership Network

Apr 7, 2022

For decades, historical neighborhood structures across the City of Pittsburgh have led to the creation of hundreds of community-serving nonprofits of various size, scope and geographic focus. All of these organizations were established with the foundational goal of improving neighborhoods and the quality of life for the residents that live in them. This has produced an excess of community and economic development programs and efforts that address a need, but are often isolated in their work. This lack of an overall master plan or non-profit coordination results in misaligned partnerships and resources, and ultimately have produced varying and often sporadic results as a result of the lack of coordination. 

“None of us can do this work alone. We can certainly have effective programs, however, to affect long-term transformative change, we need to align our resources, intellectual property toward a collective vision. This requires network building and a new culture of problem solving. This is the value we are collectively creating.”

-Presley Gillespie, Neighborhood Allies

The Partnership Network (TPN) was formed in 2017 on the premise that no one organization, no matter how strong, can tackle the complex and systemic issues facing Pittsburgh communities alone. Our network was, and remains committed to working together to develop, improve, and uplift efforts that work – all in service to our neighborhoods. Over the brief five-year history of TPN, our network has evolved into a growing, trust-based community of local nonprofits focused on eliminating systemic inequalities through a more effective ecosystem of service delivery and resident empowerment. 

“The issues that nonprofits seek to address are bigger than any one of us can solve. The Partnership Network is a move towards a more coordinated, equitable future state of community development, where resources, knowledge, and relationships are shared to the benefit of all.”

-Scott Wolovich, New Sun Rising

Grounded in strong relationships, TPN member organizations are participating in a transparent and engaged environment for open, systemic collaboration – working diligently to understand gaps and challenges in the community development system and address them with solutions that increase our effectiveness and impact. The network shares openly and supports one another in our collective goals. 

“The positive impacts on our respective and often shared customers/clients/communities is an obvious and important value of participating in TPN, but the camaraderie and understanding that we are all in this together is the fuel that keeps us going.”

-Colin Kelley, NeighborWorks Western PA

Each member organization brings a unique relevance, perspective and value to the table –  illuminating blind spots, filling in knowledge and capacity gaps, and perhaps most importantly, providing a safe space to consider radical ideas, discuss failures and create a unified, equitable voice that is representative of our missions and of the residents that each of our organizations serves. 

“As a younger leader, TPN is a place where there are people I can reach out to and have honest conversations and ask questions without feeling silly – and that is really useful to me. Then there’s a flip-side, that, as a younger leader, and having a much younger team, we bring a different perspective on organizational, operational, mission-driven stuff that adds to the conversation of these seasoned professionals and changemakers.”

-Ariam Ford, Grounded Strategies

Current TPN partner organizations include Neighborhood Allies, NeighborWorks Western Pennsylvania, New Sun Rising, Grounded Strategies, and Omicelo Cares. Click here to learn more about the work and role of The Partnership Network.  

Top Header Image Photo Credit: Prototyping Larimer Stories by artist John Peña, photo by OPA