The Posner Center convenes, connects and catalyzes the global development community to collaborate for greater impact. We do this by bringing together organizations and building an engaged, thriving, community – a community where people meet and learn about one another, exchange ideas, access shared resources and support, and ultimately combine their expertise to generate more lasting solutions to global poverty
The Posner Center for International Development is a mission-oriented community dedicated to making the world a more equitable and prosperous place. We believe that we can transform global development through catalyzing collaboration.
For mission-oriented centers like ours, it can be challenging to maintain a clear focus on the needs of the community while simultaneously advancing our own organizational aims. In an ideal world, the facilitation and leadership of your network would always be perfectly aligned with your organizational mission. However, it can be easy to fall out of balance or prioritize the many discrete needs of the community over new levels of achievement and visibility for your center.
I first heard of Joanne Posner-Mayer when I was a consultant working with a fledgling shared space in Denver focused on international development in 2013. The project was in trouble. They had secured a lease for a building through the Denver Housing Authority, but it was a historic structure and the group needed to raise the funds for renovations and start-up costs. There was a gap between the projected costs and the actual costs and it wasn’t clear how the project could move forward. I remember thinking, another one bites the dust.
But I was wrong. The project succeeded because of Ms. Posner-Mayer and it is now one of the best examples of mission-driven shared space. Posner-Mayer is a Denver physical-therapist-turned-entrepreneur who invented the FitBall™, which is now ubiquitous in gyms and therapy rooms. She had deep roots with the Curtis Park neighborhood where the international development shared space center was being developed. Her father, a Polish immigrant, had a successful hardware store in that neighborhood. Ms. Posner-Mayer felt she could give back to the neighborhood that enabled her to achieve so much. I remember being so surprised at how it all came together – her contribution was truly pivotal to the center, the difference between life and death. Now in Denver we are lucky to have the Posner Center for International Development, named in honor of her family.
If that wasn’t tribute enough, a recent blog by the Rose Community Foundation reported that Ms. Posner-Mayer has been instrumental in another shared space project, the Rose Andom Center. The Andom Center is a one-stop shop for survivors of domestic violence and houses over 20 agencies in a central location. Previously, those affected by domestic violence had to travel to up to a dozen different locations to access services. Taking a client-centered approach will help stop the cycle of violence by improving rates of reporting abuse. Ms. Posner-Mayer contributed to the Rose Andom Center and is helping it establish an endowment so it can be financially sustainable for a long time to come.
I’m anxious to learn of other philanthropists who have embraced the shared service model as much as Ms. Posner-Mayer. In working with her at an NCN training event in 2015, we discussed the notion of mission-driven shared space centers as a kin to a mutual fund investment vehicle – invest in one shared space center and you’ve touched all the organizations who locate there. It’s a great way to address a pressing community issue in a holistic way. I’ve not heard of many who have invested in multiple centers, but I’d love to see it catch on.
At this time of year, it’s inspiring to think about the many ways our generosity can make a huge difference in people’s lives. The Posner Center addresses global poverty and creates opportunity for men, women and children around the world. The Andom Center is helping local Denver families find safety and peace. I can’t imagine a better example of what we all hope for in this holiday season.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then what is a video worth? Here are a few of our favorite videos to showcase the model of sharing. Take a moment to check out three different models of shared space!
Theme Center: Posner Center for International Development Denver, CO
Service Center: Together Center Redmond, WA
Multi-Sector Center: Carroll Nonprofit Center Westminster, MD
“Shared space” is still a relatively new way to work. Because of it’s “newness,” we just don’t have a lot of formal research or guides to show us how to do it well. At the Nonprofit Centers Network 2015 Building Opportunities Conference in June, I spoke on two panels: The first on Community Animation, where I was joined by several other “animators” from spaces across the U.S. and Canada; and the second, on branding for shared spaces. In those two talks, it became incredibly apparent to me how intertwined community animation and branding really are.
Colorado is home to over 200 organizations in the field of international development. Despite the fact that these organizations share similar goals and challenges, most operated in isolation from one another. The Posner Center has brought together over 60 development-oriented business and organizations in Denver’s Curtis Park neighborhood to, “to spur innovation by enabling groups to cross-pollinate through the exchange of ideas, the overlap of programming, and the generation of more comprehensive and lasting solutions to global poverty.”