Planning a Learning Collaborative: Step Zero

written by Anna Blasco
March 26, 2014

This blog post is part of 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.


Since I started this series almost exactly a year ago, we’ve received quite a few inquiries from communities interested in conducting Rapid Re-Housing Learning Collaboratives. Today I’d like to address two important questions we often get, that thus far I’ve neglected to mention on this blog.

What will be the cost, in terms of time and capital?

Major costs associated with the Learning Collaborative are mostly around the two in-person meetings, including renting the meeting facility, refreshments for participants, meeting materials such as flip charts and print outs, and travel costs for the facilitator to and from meetings.

The other major cost associated with the Learning Collaborative is staff time. We (very roughly) estimated that the Learning Collaborative that the Alliance coordinated took approximately 237 hours of staff time over the course of a year.

How many staff will this take and what will the roles be?

There are two main roles involved, a facilitator and coordinator. Depending on how many Learning Collaboratives and how many organizations participate in each one, you may need more than one person for each of these roles. The Alliance is lucky enough to have a full-time meetings and events director who made meeting planning a breeze.

  1. Facilitation

It is very important that the facilitator have a deep knowledge and experience with best practices for rapid re-housing programs, as well as experience with meeting facilitation and adult learning. While peer learning is an important part of the Learning Collaborative, participants greatly benefit from having an expert to call upon and troubleshoot issues during the change process. The main duties of the facilitator include leading the two in-person meetings, leading the monthly conference calls during the “action period,” and being generally available to advise participants.

  1. Coordination and Support

The most time-consuming administrative portion of the Learning Collaborative is the monthly data collection for approximately six months, increasing to weekly during the 100 Day Challenge. Some additional support tasks to keep in mind are meeting planning activities for the two in-person meetings, and coordinating and scheduling the monthly conference calls and any webinars or site visits during the “action period” phase.

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