This case study focuses on the challenges of keeping a collective impact program—the Tackling Youth Substance Abuse (TYSA) program on Staten Island—focused and effective over time, a problem faced by many collaborative community-based efforts. The TYSA program was founded in 2012 as a cross-sector collaborative response to the alarming rates of substance abuse on Staten Island, using a collective impact framework.

In the four years since its founding, TYSA had accomplished a great deal. But by October 2016, when the case opens, many of the original members of TYSA’s steering committee—most of whom had been high-level decision-makers in their organizations—were delegating their spots to mid-level staff who were not empowered to make organizational decisions. In addition, TYSA’s early successes against prescription drug abuse were increasingly overshadowed by a growing opioid problem on the Island and by a continuing culture of alcohol abuse by underage teens. A subtler challenge was that, in the Staten Island community, TYSA was over-identified with Adrienne Abbate, TYSA’s Project Director, herself; how could TYSA shift the community’s perception to demonstrate the program’s value beyond its leader?

Project Director Adrienne Abbate decided to pull TYSA’s executive leadership and staff together to discuss strategies to reinvigorate the program and to sustain the momentum they had fought so hard to create.

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This case was written by Deborah Milstein, MFA, and Susan L. Madden, MS, under the supervision of Teresa Chahine, MSc, ScD, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, as the basis for class discussion and education rather than to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of an administrative or public health situation.

Read more about this case study at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health