Vital Village is a network of residents and organizations committed to maximizing child, family, and community well-being.  Our place-based, community engagement network mobilizes collective investment from residents, community organizations and institutions to seed scalable and sustainable community change around child protection and promoting healthy social and emotional development in early childhood. 

The Vital Village Networks is using a collective impact approach to supporting deeper collaboration among educators, clinicians, social service providers, legal advocates and residents to strengthen prenatal, early childhood education, and economic security and preventive legal resources that support family and community protective factors.  We began by developing hubs of innovation within and a formal collaborative network across three Boston Neighborhoods: Dudley (Roxbury/North Dorchester), Mattapan, and Codman Square (Dorchester). 

We align preventive efforts across sectors to enhance existing services for children.  This approach is sustainable because we embed community-driven preventive strategies in the context of existing systems for child health and education and community development.  We strive to connect and strengthen opportunity structures that support protective factors and family strengths within existing community resources.  We couple community-based participatory research and improvement science methodology to drive progress.

How Does A Collaborative Network Enhance Synergy?

Emerging understanding of the far-reaching consequences of early-life adversities and toxic stressors on child development, health, and educational outcomes motivates a paradigm-shift toward the use of innovative approaches that harness collective capacities.  Our Network is developing a community of practice that mobilizes cross-sector collaborations, encourages collective learning, and cultivates stronger connections between community residents and community agencies in order to co-design and improve community systems.  We link learning and practice through an intentional improvement process, so that research insights are translated and inform practice and practical problems are rigorously studied.  Our long-term goal is to pioneer a sustainable approach to setting-level improvements that enhance family and community protective factors and ultimately prevent and mitigate childhood adversities and promote optimal wellbeing.

What Do We Hope to Achieve?

We aim to deepen community engagement within, and grow the interdependence and scale of the Vital Village Network across three Boston neighborhoods.  We have four main objectives to achieve our vision:

  1. Vital Concept 
    To support growth of a local community of practice to cultivate community settings which protect children from violence and optimally support their well-being.  We support leadership trajectories for community residents to build collective capacity, and link learning to practice within innovation hubs driven by iterative learning processes, collaborative inquiry, and community-based evaluation. 
  2. Village Vital Signs
    To improve the quality of data and tools which allow community residents and community institutions to promote family and community safety.  We leverage existing data systems to establish benchmarks for assessing the wellbeing of children and use them to catalyze community engagement and accountability.
  3. Vital Connections
    To cultivate social networks which provide meaningful opportunities in daily life for social and emotional learning and build family resilience and community prosperity.  We support peer-to-peer advocacy, youth civic participation, and cultivate regular dialogue between community agencies and residents to increase collective engagement to build the geography of opportunity structures in neighborhoods. 
  4. Village Prosperity
    To optimize the prosperity of Vital Village neighborhoods through peer-to-peer advocacy models to address social and material hardships using coordinated economic and preventive legal strategies. We are scaling a model for building civic capacity and community member peer advocacy skill supported by local institutions.