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Building this Plane as We Fly It: A Case Study in Collaboration in Amarillo, Texas

About This Session


Refugee Language Project lives at the crossroads of community collaboration and a unique organizational identity in its work with refugees in Amarillo, Texas. Listen in on an evaluation of their largest collaboration to date in opening a multi-cultural community center.

What we'll cover:

Collaboration can create unique problems, but can also create the space and flexibility for unique solutions. This session will look at the history and current status of a grassroots alliance in the Texas Panhandle between three non-profit organizations with distinct visions, but an overlapping set of goals. Participants can expect to hear an honest evaluation of what true collaboration requires, while also exploring the benefits that come from working across organizational and cultural boundaries.

The PLACE, a refugee-focused community center offering English classes, business development resources, and social services, was launched in January 2022 in Amarillo, Texas. Prior to opening, research done by Refugee Language Project (RLP) was shared with the broader community and served as a launching pad for The PLACE in response to the Afghan crisis in 2021. As the three partner organizations worked together to open, staff, and maintain this facility, constant evaluation and flexibility was required by all parties to ensure continued success.

By discussing the unique history and approach of RLP, participants will gain an appreciation for why collaboration was needed in the first place, beginning with ethnolinguistic research into local refugee communities. Through a foundation of fostering community and building trust with marginalized populations, RLP was poised to extend its relational capital to the other stakeholders, and in turn benefit from their services to refugees without taking ownership of programs outside of their expertise. As a result, RLP was able to maintain and expand their language-based offerings of ESL classes, in-home mentorships, bilingual storybook development, and translation services because of these strategic partnerships.

Upon examining the trajectory of this one particular collaboration, participants will observe how the three organizations in question have developed their relationship over time, from an informal network to a formal alliance with increasing impact. We will explore the lessons learned from pooling people and resources to accomplish common ends, and consider the failures and successes along the way.

Topics & Focus

Primary Topic Area
topic - community partnerships & collaboration
Session will also cover:
topic - fundraising & program sustainability
topic - advocacy, public awareness
PD other

Handouts & Materials

Pennington, Crystal

Presenter: Crystal Pennington
Organization: Refugee Language Project

ROLE decision makers
LEVEL intermediate
Case study?

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