This is written by Ali Brown who shares her thoughts about working for us! Check out Ali's blog at Protecting your Mission

 Thoughts from Ali Brown!

 Monday, October 15, 2012

The Power of We- The Creation and Growth of a Mission through Collaboration

Today is Blog Action Day. This event is an opportunity to bring bloggers from all over the world together to blog about a similar topic. This years’ topic is the Power of We. Progressive thinkers all over will be posting about the power of collaboration and working hand in hand. This year’s topic serves as a wonderful starting point for our exploration of protecting your mission. Although there are many things that non-profit organizations can do to protect their mission, working in collaboration with others is fundamental. In order to see the Power of We first hand I am going to introduce you to the organization Adelante Mujeres, where I worked for from 2008-2012.
Adelante Mujeres is a non-profit organization in Forest Grove, Oregon (about 30 miles west of Portland) that works towards the education and empower of Latina women and their families. The organization was built through strong partnerships and continues to grow and thrive thanks to these connections. The organization’s connections with the community are countless but two programs stick out; Adelante Empresas and Forest Grove Farmers Market.

Adelante Empresas

Adelante Empresas, Adelante Mujeres’ small business training program, provides trainings and individualized support to 100 Latino small business owners every year, all with only two staff members. This sort of impact is only possible thanks to the Power of We.  Empresas staff works directly with the local Chambers of Commerce, the Forest Grove Economic Develop Department, local volunteers and the growing number of participating small business owners to continue to build a strong network of Latino owned small businesses. Bringing together each of these institutions and allowing them do what they do best has allowed for participating entrepreneurs to receive the support that they need, and for each of these organizations to work towards their specific missions. The local volunteers do not have to write grants or teach classes and Adelante Mujeres does not have to facilitate regional networking events. This collaboration has also brought together business leaders in the region and allowed for the development of new services and initiatives to better serve and advocate for all business owners. Empresas shows how the Power of We allows for the development and maintenance of a strong program within non-profit organizations and also provides the space for future collaboration.

The Forest Grove Farmers Market

The Forest Grove Farmers Market, a weekly seasonal market, is managed by Adelante Mujeres and has created strong partnerships in order to develop and work towards its mission. The farmers market has transformed from a place to buy and sell locally grown and produced goods into an accessible community-gathering place. The market partners with the downtown association, schools, universities, local banks and hospitals and other community groups to provide additional services to community members such as matching dollars for individuals using federal benefits such as SNAP and WIC, weekly kids activities and monthly expanded markets. These partnerships make the Forest Grove Farmers Market unique and have transformed it into a cornerstone of the community.

An Inclusive Definition of the Power of We  

Traditionally partnerships in the non-profit sector are directly between organizations or between organizations and community volunteers. As seen above Adelante has created many of these partnerships but is also working to redefine who is an essential partner. One way in which Adelante Mujeres truly exemplifies the Power of We is the organization’s relationship with program participants and its responsiveness to their needs and concerns. The organizational mission and the scope of its programs are constantly being shaped and improved by the needs and input of participants, giving a voice to a population that is often silenced. Adelante is a model of an organization that has defined the Power of We broadly and has used this power to grow and protect a powerful mission.

Adelante Mujeres
To learn more about Adelante Mujeres please check out their website at

I have been lucky enough to work within and learn from this organization but I know it is not the only way to do this good work. What organizations model this behavior in your world? How do they define the Power of We? How do they harness it? How can we continue to make the Power of We more inclusive to continue growing and learning?

Thank you, Ali for writing such a great blog about us!
Adelante MujeresComment