• Dec 2003/Jan 2004
  • Vol. 4, No. 10

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Elements of Effective Solutions

Answers to America's most pressing problems crop up in communities all across the country. The challenge is to capture these solutions and share them. A new publication from the Pew Partnership for Civic Change, What Makes a Solution? Lessons and Findings from Solutions for America, identifies common features of effective community-based programs addressing issues in five policy areas, including children, youth, and families. The report highlights research findings from 19 sites in major cities, smaller urban areas, and rural communities.

The report finds successful solutions to any community problem are characterized by one or more of the following features:

  • Making connections. Solutions for America are, above all, about making connections: between different citizens, between individuals and groups, between public and private community stakeholders, between resources and needs.
  • Changing minds. Successful solutions may involve reorienting how community stakeholders think about a problem, changing the minds of clients by giving them new skills or new information, or transforming people's attitudes toward themselves, toward their fellow citizens, and toward their communities.
  • Thinking small. The programs featured in the report solve problems block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, family by family. They also focus on prevention, emphasizing efficiency and leverage, so small solutions can help solve large problems.
  • Doing democracy. The solutions explored in the report emphasize inclusion, deliberation, and participatory decision making by diverse groups of elites as well as by everyday citizens.

To download a copy of the report, go to the Pew Partnership website at www.pew-partnership.org/whatsnew.html. For a print copy, email mail@pew-partnership.org.

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