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This month we’re examining collaborations within the nonprofit sector. With a growing emphasis for organizations to work together, highlighting examples that show tangible results or significant promise stemming from strategic alliances is useful.

A new collaboration between Drexel University and the Free Library of Philadelphia will feature an iPad vending machine in Mantua — home of the Promise Zone. Launching in May, the program will provide 12 iPads for loan to anyone with a Drexel ID or a Free Library card.The initiative offers a prime example of how strategic partnerships can achieve (or in this case intend to achieve) significant impact.

One of the reasons this partnership has a high likelihood of success is because Drexel is already well-established in the area. Drexel has established trust within the multiple populations in West Philadelphia due to its previous successful engagements. This is key because some organizations focus entirely on the nonprofits they’re working with while failing to gain input from the community who’s supposed to benefit from their efforts. Drexel and the Free Library consulted with a population within Mantua who traditionally has less digital access than more economically robust areas.

While Drexel in particular has an extensive understanding of the area and its residents, the Free Library adds value by having a great sense of the need to expand digital access. More importantly they have a solid infrastructure and knowledge base to understand how communities of people read and access the Web. The partnership between Drexel and the Free Library shows that organizations with a mutual interest in solving a problem can offer the potential for positive results by combining unique skills, advantages, and resources.

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