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Using a Network Approach

MCI uses a network approach to leverage resilience and community assets to combat the entrenched problems that children and families face. We believe the connections between the people and institutions of all sectors can drive positive community change. The research continues to build evidence for the importance of building, strengthening, and maintaining connections in the service of data-driven collective action that continuously monitors progress. MCI network tends to the number, variety, and depth of those connections in the 500 block catchment area.

We are continuously building, tending to, and measuring our network so that it:

  • holds itself accountable to child and family wellbeing outcomes
  • continuously uses, collects, analyzes, disseminates, and refines data for action
  • brings together a variety of partners from different sectors and creates spaces for community participation and leadership
  • fosters distributive leadership so that all network actors (agencies and residents) can have an equal opportunity to plan for and take collective action

MCI Network functions through distributed leadership, meaning residents and partner agencies are encouraged and supported to self-organize to use the data that the team collects to take action to improve the lives of children and their families in the catchment area. Network connections fluctuate over time, responding to the urgent needs of the community and taking into account day-to-day realities. The MCI Network team builds, tends, measures, and maintains the connections and relationships among the residents and partner agencies by using the 4 methods below:

Building the Network

  • Constantly expanding the diversity and reach of the network by engaging new partners and residents
  • Creating platforms for members to connect and share information among themselves
  • Designing and hosting gatherings for members to deepen their understanding of one another and to foster opportunities for self-organizing (in person, or virtual)

Tending to Network Approaches and Leadership Development

  • Offering technical support by creating data tools
  • Providing capacity building through the organizational fellowship and the resident leadership academy (currently in development)
  • Supporting these efforts of self-organization by helping them to set, follow and measure progress on their goals and ideas

Monitoring Progress

  • Ensuring that data is disseminated in an accessible manner for all network members
  • Maintaining platforms for sharing data and experiences
  • Participating in the development of a Collective Capacities survey tool to create metrics to help us monitor the health of our network

Sustaining a Healthy Vibrant Network

  • Connecting with the place-based network field to share and bring back experiences that enrich the local network
  • Making the network visible to itself by communicating and collecting stories about successes, attempts and lessons learned


Network approaches can be challenging to define, describe and demonstrate. MCI network is working along with other place-based sites as part of the Population Change Learning Community in order to strengthen our own practice and inform the larger field of our progress and learning. Together, the Population Change Learning Community developed and is in the process of testing a Collective Capacities Survey tool that will help us describe, assess and monitor the health of our network and the capacities we have that will truly drive positive change.