Backbone organizations are those that are charged with creating and managing the cross-sector collaborative, with staff and skills to coordinate participating organizations and agencies. Backbone organizations are usually non-profit community-based organizations, although in some communities a public sector agency, community college, or community foundation can play this role. Backbone organizations are those that are charged with creating and managing the cross-sector collaborative, with staff and skills to coordinate participating organizations and agencies.

Ingoma Foundation and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for Adolescent Development/Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence were selected by the theCONNECT in Spring of 2014 to serve as co-backbones for theCONNECT. Together, these two organizations have a history of accomplishment in each of the key areas of managing collective impact initiatives.

Ingoma Foundation Logo tight crop

The Ingoma Foundation, a program of Fusion Partnerships, Inc., is a community-based nonprofit organization that develops models of sustainable community development targeting economically distressed neighborhoods and citizens in Baltimore. Our vision is the creation and implementation of models that can be used to develop economically sustainable families and individuals through workforce development; significant sustainable reduction in youth arrests; the creation and support of sustainable businesses; and the development of sustainable physical community infrastructure. Currently, Ingoma is working in the Oldtown neighborhood of East Baltimore. Ingoma’s efforts focus heavily on collective impact to use a combination of data analysis and stakeholder input to identify key challenges in community development and then works to support a collaborative vision and pathway for success which draws on the expertise of stakeholders and the desires of the community being impacted. Ingoma collects and analyzes data on key indicators, maintains communication, fosters collaboration between stakeholders, and ensures that work aligns with the originally agreed-upon vision and principles of the group. We are currently partnered with a broad variety of cross-sector organizations at the community, city, and state levels that include residents through decision-makers. Our efforts are informed by the knowledge that disconnected youth in Baltimore have significant, but transformable, barriers to entry into the economic life of Baltimore City that can be addressed through organized, cross-sector collaboration. Ingoma is currently funded by Open Society Institute of Baltimore for its Youth Unlocked Project which organizes stakeholders and youth to identify issue areas which impact the over-arrest of youth of color, facilitate relationship-building between police and youth; and connect youth with leadership and career development pathways.


The Johns Hopkins Center for Adolescent Health (CAH)/Center for Prevention of Youth Violence (CPYV) both with Philip J. Leaf as Director are collaborations of the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore City, State Agencies, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, service providers, stakeholders, and youth. CAH/CPYV employ a multi-sectorial, developmental, and ecological public health perspective to improve and reduce disparities in health and wellbeing among individuals ages 10-24 with a special emphasis on positive youth development. Our vision is for adolescents and youth to have skills which enable them to form and sustain committed relationships, meaningfully engage in parenting, fully participate in civic life and participate in productive economic activity; to develop skills to cope with adversity; and to avoid problem behaviors like substance use, risky sexual behavior, and violence. These Centers are supported by a Community Advisory Board, a Youth Advisory Committee, an Academic Advisory Board, and a recently developed Youth-focused Organization Network that is co-chaired by the Chair of the Baltimore City Youth Commission and Dr. Leaf. This multi-dimensional approach is motivated by the fact that we conduct our work in a city where the life choices of many youth are severely compromised. Baltimore City is making progress, but youth continue to have significant health problems and encounter inequities in health and wellbeing. The CAH/CPYV are funded through collaborative agreements with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Johns Hopkins University, and other grants and contracts. In addition to affiliated faculty and staff, CAH/CPVY has access to postdoctoral fellows and graduate students to support the proposed “Backbone” efforts. CAH/CPYV is currently developing a report on Health and Wellbeing in Baltimore and will be coordinating a “Connecting the Dots” Conference in collaboration with Federal and State agencies funding efforts to reduce youth violence and prevent and/or treat youth substance abuse and other needs of Opportunity Youth.