The most common response among members regarding Itasca Networks for Youth’s value to Itasca County is: “How the network was able to create opportunities for programs to collaborate and have open discussions, ultimately eliminating or reducing siloed programming.” Members say prior to the formation of Itasca Networks for Youth there was a culture where there were “turf wars” and limited conversations between youth programs in the area. Itasca Networks for Youth has created a space where organizations are open to discussing their programming and interested in developing partnerships.
The second most positive impact of Itasca Networks for Youth is the group’s collective focus on the needs and concerns of youth. “Itasca Networks for Youth is really good at having everyone always focused on outcomes for the kids,” says Chad Evans, previously of Deer River Boys & Girls Club. “We are focused on outcomes and the spirit of our work.”
Since its inception, Itasca Networks for Youth has received facilitation support from the Blandin Foundation. Partners say this has allowed for consistent professional facilitation and stability in the Network. “I believe that the high-quality neutral-party facilitation from the Blandin Foundation has been key in the groups continued success,” says Johnson.