Independence Blue Cross Convenes Partnerships with Purpose Conference
On November 1, Independence Blue Cross (Independence) convened a national conference, Partnerships with Purpose, aimed at exploring the power of collaboration to drive positive community impact. The conference brought together leaders from business, health care, nonprofit, education, and government to discuss opportunities for strong, more innovative partnerships that improve the health and well-being of our communities. We welcomed a diverse gathering of panelists, speakers, and guests who all share a commitment to addressing the needs of our community.
Highlights from the Conference
The conference opened with a leadership discussion between Independence President and CEO Dan Hilferty, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer at Comcast Corporation, David L. Cohen, and President and CEO of the Urban Affairs Coalition, Sharmain Matlock-Turner. The panelists discussed their efforts to positively impact the community and how working in silos limits the awareness, community support, and broad impact that could be achieved through collaboration. The discussion was moderated by NBC10 reporter Aundrea Cline-Thomas.
The rest of the day featured panel discussions and talks from community leaders, including a keynote address from Katherine Smith, executive director, Center for Corporate Citizenship, Boston College Carroll School of Management. Each panel focused on a key component of building community partnerships, whether it’s the importance of diverse perspectives, or best practices for partnering.
Some highlights include:
Why Partnership is Essential to Driving Change: Jeri Lynne Johnson, founder and artistic director of the Black Pearl Orchestra treated attendees to a conducting lesson, demonstrating how the principles of conducting apply to the concept of partnership.
Onsite volunteer activity: During lunch, IBC Foundation president Lorina Marshall-Blake invited conference attendees to assemble 300 hygiene packages to benefit recipients of Share Food Program.
Keynote address: Katherine Smith, executive director, Center for Corporate Citizenship, Boston College Carroll School of Management, explained how businesses can get involved to make an impact in their community by picking the right issues, integrating corporate citizenship with their business strategy, and planning for sustainability.
Partnering for Impact: Attendees learned best practices for building community partnerships, whether on a local or national level. For example, effective partnerships are made up of stakeholders who are willing to listen and learn in order to solve a problem together. Jeffrey Brown, president and CEO of Brown’s Super Stores spoke about how partnerships were the key to figuring out how to get supermarkets to work well in food deserts.
Unified Approaches Lead to Promising Results
Conference panelists and speakers highlighted examples of how they have overcome disparate views and approaches to build successful partnerships. And how they succeeded not in spite of, but because of these differences. For example:
- Through a recent partnership with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and Zipline, the UPS Foundation developed the first medical drone program to deliver lifesaving medical supplies to remote areas of the world.
- The Free Library of Philadelphia convened and manages Read by 4th, a citywide effort of more than 90 organizations to increase the number of students in Philadelphia reading at grade level by fourth grade.
- After the Travis Manion Foundation partnered with Comcast, they went from a local nonprofit benefitting veterans to a national one.
- Independence Blue Cross partnered with the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey to address poverty and early childhood literacy, which strengthens our communities.
- Big Brothers and Big Sisters Independence region partnered with the public defender’s office, which yielded concrete results in keeping children out of the justice system.
These are just a few of the ways in which building community partnerships and unique connections led to new solutions and approaches to solving problems. Whether it’s poverty, the opioid crisis, homelessness, discrimination, education, or access to health care, Philadelphia’s challenging issues require collaboration and cooperation. No one can solve these issues working alone.
The Power of a United Front
The Partnerships with Purpose conference demonstrated the power of a united front. I’m inspired by the collaboration among businesses, nonprofits, government, local neighborhoods, and individuals. So, let’s continue to forge meaningful partnerships with those outside our silos. Seek out others close to the problem you are trying to solve and ensure you are engaging a diverse group of stakeholders. I think you’ll find that what we can achieve together is far greater than what we can achieve alone.