When choosing a community for a new IHDF affiliate, seven key questions should drive decision-making:

  1. Broadly speaking, is there a need for the type of services IHDF provides?
  2. Do the services that IHDF provides effectively address the presenting need?
  3. Are there potential funding prospects?
  4. Who are the potential school partners and service providers?
  5. What other key constituencies could IHDF work to cultivate?
  6. What are the major risks, opportunities and threats inherent in IHDF’s expansion plans in this community? [Conduct a SWOT Analysis]
  7. What are the optimal conditions for success?

Feasibility and readiness is determined as a function of four step process – needs assessment, identification of potential funding resources and individual donors, proximity of complementary community-based organizations and other service providers, and identification of other key stakeholders 

Step 1: Conducting a Needs Assessment to determine impact potential and opportunity for IHDF

When assessing the value of an “I Have A Dream” Affiliate or Program in a particular community, it’s important to conduct a local needs assessment and market analysis to determine the best location. This assessment must consider IHDF’s Dreamer Scholar selection criteria: groups of 60 or more young people from under-resourced communities in the first grade or younger. A good benchmark for community need can vary, but is generally population or area where 80% or more of the students qualify for the federal free and reduced lunch program. You will learn more about various program models and selection criteria in this section. 

Step 2: Understanding the community’s funding landscape and mapping potential funders

When surveying a community for potential resources and collaborators, it’s also important to assess the local fundraising landscape. When forming your advisory committee, it’s helpful to gauge the networks immediately surrounding you for their ability to participate in a fundraiser, or share with their networks. 

Some helpful first places to start include: 

  • Working with the National “I Have A Dream” Foundation to identify & reach out to any alumni or board members in the area 
  • Forming relationships with leaders of local businesses and city government
  • Surveying local foundations & learning about their funding mandates

More in-depth guidance on fundraising can be found in this section

Step 3: Assessing Community Resources –  Identifying potential service providers, school partners and potential competitors

When assessing whether a community is a good fit for an “I Have A Dream” program, it’s helpful to conduct a general inventory of potential community partners. This process will help identify where there are gaps in community services that an “I Have A Dream” program might be able to fill, and where available community programs—from shared spaces, like YMCAs or Boys & Girls Clubs, to programming, such as tutoring or after school programs—may be able to provide support or augmentation to IHDF’s programming and help ensure its success. 

A more in-depth look at assessing and selecting community and school partners can be found in this section

Step 4: Mapping key constituencies and influencers, understanding the political landscape and other intangibles

Optimal Conditions for Success to Launch in a new Community

  • Proactive engagement with the right elements in the funding community that understand IHDF to be and will champion IHDF as a unique, additive contribution to a crowded field at a critical time.
  • Strong anchor funder or funders that are willing to facilitate intros and serve as a local champion.
  • Formal or informal launch committee and advisory board to build and keep momentum and to ensure that IHDF commitments are made and that they stay at the top of people’s radar.
  • Thoughtful school and partner selection process will be important.  Intangibles will be invaluable.  Above and beyond the practicalities of who will be the best service provider it will be important for IHDF to immerse itself in the provider network here in a way that the effort is perceived to be community driven and not an external transplant….whether or not resources go to support IHDF at the expense of other things.
  • Passionate, competent local staff that is excited to be part of launching something great, deeply committed to the work and willing to put in long hours to get things up and running.
  • Strong  support from and cohesion with IHDF national; well defined value proposition that makes the case for the regional affiliate.
  • Clear goals and shared expectations for what success looks like in six months, in a year and in five years.