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News

ThriveABI Update

Feb 18, 2022

(February 18, 2022) — Remember hearing about ThriveABI in 2019? Perhaps you participated in the community visioning process. Or, maybe you're just reading about it for the first time now.

While the initiative has been seemingly quiet during the COVID-19 pandemic, it hasn't gone away. In fact, we've been quite busy in the second phase! Phase two just happened to involve a lot of behind-the-scenes research work to usher in next steps.

Here is an overview of what the initiative is, what has been done, and what's next:

1. What is ThriveABI?

It's an initiative to spark and track progress towards a community vision for a thriving Abilene. The Community Foundation of Abilene leads the effort.
 

Key Issues

Consider the major issues affecting our quality of life -- education, workforce, poverty alleviation, arts and culture, community development, etc.

ThriveABI exists to do two main things:

  1. keep track of how Abilene is doing in these areas; and
  2. work with people and organizations to move towards community goals in each of these areas.
Working Together

It's a big task, to be sure. But, making progress doesn't have to be complicated. It starts with a simple concept -- working together. The idea is that we're more likely to accomplish these goals when people working in the same field communicate with one another rather than operating in silos.

That's where ThriveABI comes in. It serves as a vehicle to get entities on the same page and moving towards common goals. Here's how:

  • Convene - We will convene organizations and individuals working within a particular cause area so that everyone is communicating about the work they're doing to solve similar problems. We call these groups Cause Area Working Groups (CAWGs). For instance, if a goal is for Abilene to have more affordable childcare, we can convene agencies and people affecting the childcare industry.
     
  • Facilitate - Each CAWG will have co-chairs who will facilitate conversations about what each entity in the room is doing and how that work is affecting the goal. Just by having consistent conversations, agencies can work together to reduce service overlap, streamline processes, and help each other overcome obstacles as we work towards improvements as a community.
     
  • Measure - We can only know whether or not we're accomplishing goals as a community if someone is collecting and measuring data from all involved players to track our collective progress. This is a key function of ThriveABI.

2. What has been done so far

Community Visioning

First, the community established a vision for Abilene's future. In late 2019, hundreds of Abilenians participated in casting this community vision. After conducting surveys, focus groups, and community-wide conversations, this is the vision we established together:

Abilene is a dynamic, compassionate, and welcoming community centered on helping one another. We have access to options for quality education, affordable health and child care, efficient transportation, and resources to meet essential needs. We offer seamless pathways for educational and professional growth, entrepreneurship, and careers that provide competitive wages. We cherish our rich history, strong spiritual foundation, and cultural landscape. We celebrate our nationally-recognized arts, flourishing downtown and innovative approaches to enhance our quality of life. As a community, we hold ourselves accountable to work together to ensure that Abilene is a place where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

Cause Areas and Preliminary Objectives

During the community visioning process, we invited everyone in the community to participate in conversations that led to the vision statement above. These conversations also established potential objectives for six cause areas ThriveABI will track.

View the full breakdown of all the cause areas and potential metrics and objectives for each cause area in the Abilene Community Visioning Report. The six areas include:

  1. Education
  2. Essential Needs
  3. Health and Wellness
  4. Workforce and Economic Development
  5. Family Well-being and Neighborhoods
  6. Arts and Culture

Note: You'll see seven cause areas within the visioning report. We have since moved Transportation under the Essential Needs umbrella.

Research to Determine Baseline Data

This is the phase we've been in for much of the past year. Our research partner with Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center collected and assessed data to determine a baseline of Abilene's current needs in each of the seven cause areas. Tech's research also helped identify data sources ThriveABI can access to track performance in the seven areas moving forward.

Cause Area Working Groups and Next Steps

As of February 2022, we are in the process of establishing a Community Initiatives Committee (CIC) and Cause Area Working Groups (CAWGs).

The CAWGs, described above, will meet as needed to stay on top of progress towards goals within their respective cause areas.

The CIC is a committee comprised of Community Foundation of Abilene board members and community members who will oversee the Community Foundation's involvement in the ThriveABI initiative and determine when and how the foundation may become even more deeply involved in affecting particular issues.

CAWG meetings will begin in spring of 2022. Here's what the CAWG function may look like:

  1. One of their first tasks will be to set specific, measurable goals within their cause areas, based on the community's vision.
  2. Once these goals are set, they'll determine strategies and tactics to work towards the objectives.
  3. The work begins! These are the people and organizations already doing the work to meet important community needs. By being part of the CAWG, they'll now work in concert with peers in their space to accomplish common goals.
  4. The idea is that this process repeats indefinitely for ongoing, collaborative impact.
A Basic Recap

Yes, it's a lot to wrap your mind around. And yet, it's also deceptively simple. In fact, here's a simple, boiled-down explanation.

ThriveABI exists to do two main things:

get people working together to solve issues and work towards the community's vision for a thriving Abilene; and

measure the progress towards that vision.

Simple concept. Big work.

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More than $114k in grants awarded to Coleman County nonprofits for 2023

See the list of Coleman County nonprofits awarded.