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Community Solutions understands that to make progress in achieving a more equitable future for marginalized people, the systems those individuals interact with will need to change. Community Solutions starts with the result in mind – what is it that we are trying to achieve? Systems change efforts often include taking stock of the current system and engaging with people interacting with the system to better understand what is and is not working. While every project is unique, systems change projects often involve working with stakeholders to collaboratively map out the system, gathering input to better understand what changes are possible, and working with key stakeholders to implement changes.

Some examples of systems change efforts we have engaged in include:

  • Building and managing a results-focused, data-driven coalition focusing on a marginalized group

  • Developing and implementing a framework for funding and supporting grassroots organizations that challenges traditional funder-grantee models

  • Working with a city agency to work through process improvement strategies that will improve outcomes for participants that interact with the system


Project Example: 
Marion County
Reentry Coalition

The Marion County Reentry Coalition (MCRC) is a coalition of organizations and individuals who serve people reentering the community after incarceration and/or have experience within the system. Coalition members work to redesign the criminal justice system and create opportunities for providers and individuals to align their resources, collaborate, and share best practices to enhance services and support for re-entrants in Indianapolis.

Since 2012, community partners have been convening in work groups to move strategies set by the coalition members. There are five work groups (Education & Employment, Housing, Policy, Services, and System Redesign) but task forces and committees are also established when needed to move toward a defined goal.

Community Solutions is the backbone organization of MCRC, serving as a connector for the organizations and individuals involved. Community Solutions manages progress by upholding action commitments from coalition members, facilitating the development of new projects and programs, and leveraging connections with city/state agencies to improve processes that will enhance outcomes for people impacted by the justice system. The MCRC is representative of Community Solutions’ own Theory of Change, providing us with an opportunity to lead on a project with the potential to affect measurable systems change.

The MCRC’s target result is: All adults in Marion County involved in the justice system are successfully integrated into the community. Additionally, there is a priority focus on the disproportionate impact on People of Color. Community Solutions uses a Results-Based Accountability (RBA) framework to move MCRC strategies from talk to action. The coalition is data-driven and measures progress through two population-level indicators:

  1. 6- and 12-month rate of rearrest

  2. 6- and 12-month rate of return to incarceration.


Long-term trend data should be interpreted with caution as data definitions, tools, management systems, and personnel change over time. Rates represent best-available estimates.

The MCRC looks at the story behind the data, and found that there were five key areas that were especially important to help people exiting incarceration to successfully integrate into the community:

  • Access to safe, affordable housing

  • Access to education and employment that leads to living wage jobs and education that furthers life and career goals

  • Access to wraparound services and support after release

  • Modifying justice systems to reduce barriers to successful reentry

  • Policies that are supportive of people returning from incarceration

The Community Solutions team uses the Results-Based Accountability framework to move the MCRC through challenges such as members’ decreased involvement or difficulty obtaining up-to-date data. Community Solution facilitators hold members accountable by following up on action commitments and developing innovative ways to share that hard-to-reach data. MCRC is unlike other projects at Community Solutions in that it doesn’t have an end date. The goal is to keep serving as the connector for community members in Marion County working in reentry by ensuring smooth collaboration among service providers, improving processes in the system and the lives of people affected by the system, and helping introduce new innovative ideas and strategies—as long as the need is there.


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