Field Notes: How to Plan a Learning Collaborative – Step Four

written by Anna Blasco
July 17, 2013

This blog post is the fourth in a series from the Alliance on designing a Learning Collaborative in your community. You can read the first post in the series here, where you'll find an explanation of how a Learning Collaborative works.


Three to four months before you kick off your first Learning Collaborative meeting, it is time to start recruiting potential participants. We did this by releasing some promotional materials and holding conference calls to allow interested organizations to ask questions.

First we released a short description of what the Learning Collaborative was, why we were holding one, and what types of organizations should apply. While discussing what participants would gain from participating, we were also frank about the time commitment involved, and that the Learning Collaborative was not a funding opportunity.

Next we held an informational conference call to answer questions from interested organizations. The informational conference call was led by Kay Moshier McDivitt, the Learning Collaborative facilitator. On this call, Kay described the Learning Collaborative, its goals, and the expectations for participants, including:

  • What type of organizations should consider applying for the Learning Collaborative;
  • What participating organizations would gain from joining, as well as what support they would be offered throughout;
  • Where and when meetings and conference calls would be held;
  • Expectations for how often each organization’s team would meet outside of these group meetings; and
  • Which staff from each organization should be on an organization’s team.

When we released the application, we already had a list of interested organizations that participated in the informational call. I’ve already discussed how we designed our application in this blog, and posted an example application. With the application, we also included the date and time of a second informational call where we would answer questions on the application.

I also recommend asking interested organizations to reach out to other eligible organizations in their communities that they already work closely with. Building off these existing relationships helps the participating organizations become truly collaborative, and some organizations may respond more positively when approached by their peers.

Another resource that is helpful in designing promotional materials is this NCTSN toolkit, which I highly recommend perusing when you are planning your Collaborative. It has instructions on how to hold an information call, and an example announcement.

View the Series: How to Plan a Learning Collaborative

Step Zero: Staffing and Cost

Step One: Do Your Research

Step Two: Create an Application

Step Three: Metrics and Measuring Improvement

Step Four: Recruit Participants

Lessons from the Everyone Housed Academy

Step Five: Assign Pre-Work

Interview with Learning Collaborative Participants

Step Six: Facilitator Preparation for First Meeting

Step Seven: Facilitating the First Meeting – Part 1

Step Eight: Facilitating the First Meeting – Part 2