Field Notes: How to plan a Learning Collaborative - Step Six

written by Kay Moshier McDivitt
December 11, 2013

This blog post is the eighth in a series from the Alliance on designing a Rapid Re-Housing 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. 


In March we launched a blog series to provide you with the tools to conduct a Rapid Re-Housing Learning Collaborative in your community. A Learning Collaborative is an opportunity for organizations to make changes in the way they operate, while being supported by their peers and experts in rapid re-housing.

Our last post focused on the pre-work phase where Learning Collaborative participants get started with some homework. But the work doesn’t just start for the participants during the pre-work phase, the facilitator needs to begin planning for the first meeting as well. As the facilitator for the Learning Collaboratives we conducted in Virginia, I would like to share the following checklist for the Learning Collaborative facilitator to begin designing their presentation:

  • Identify your goal for the Learning Collaborative. Make the goal short and focused on improving rapid re-housing practice. Having a clear and focused goal will drive the agenda for not only the meeting, but the work that comes from the Learning Collaborative. Our goal was twofold: (1) to reduce length of time families are homeless and move more families to permanent housing, and (2) to develop rapid re-housing programs that are inclusive and can serve anyone
  • Set your agenda for the first meeting. The agenda should include a mix of presentation, group activities, and organizational planning. Here is a sample copy of our agenda
  • Get to know the participating organizations joining each Learning Collaborative. Familiarize yourself with the applications and the pre-work materials each organization submitted, which should include their goals for joining the collaborative. Take into account where participating agencies might improve when designing your presentation and materials.
  • Conduct a conference call with the team leaders from each collaborative. This gives each organization a chance to learn who will be participating in the collaborative with them as well as what to expect at the first meeting. Review the agenda with them so that they come to the meeting prepared.
  • Develop your materials. Our materials included the Rapid Re-Housing Role Play Game, handouts on Rapid Re-Housing best practices, sample program materials like job descriptions, and organizational planning worksheets (we will discuss this more on in a later blog).
  • Keep your PowerPoint direct and focused on the agenda.  Ask clear questions that will help participants objectively review their materials and being to identify the areas they want to work on. The full PowerPoint from the first meeting of the Virginia Learning Collaborative is available here.
  • Build momentum for the first meeting.  Begin sending out weekly reminder notices three weeks prior to the meeting to encourage the team leaders to prepare their team and build excitement for the first meeting.

The meeting is the beginning of the working phase for the Learning Collaborative and sets the stage for organizational change to implement and/or improve rapid re-housing practice.  Good preparation is key to a successful Learning Collaborative.

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

Insights from our Participants

Step Six: Facilitator Preparation for First Meeting

Step Seven: Facilitating the First Meeting – Part 1

Step Eight: Facilitating the First Meeting – Part 2