FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Passionate leader Francine Pratt will return to Springfield this spring to champion “Prosper Springfield.” Prosper Springfield is a collective-impact-model initiative created to unify the community’s efforts to lift people out of poverty. The initiative capitalizes on the momentum of successful programs such as the City’s Zone Blitz and The Northwest Project at the Fairbanks.
Pratt will work with the more than 300 partner organizations to create an environment in which Springfieldians in poverty are able to measurably improve their education, health and housing while becoming better employed and more financially secure.
“Our nonprofits, social service and health care providers, educational institutions, employers and local government have a tremendous positive impact on those less fortunate,” said Mayor Bob Stephens. “We believe that by working more efficiently together, we can increase that impact exponentially.”
Pratt is described by colleagues as having a “strategic mind and a compassionate heart,” and has more than 25 years of experience in leading government, private, public and non-profit organizations with a focus on community client sustainability, customer service and family support work.
She is the former executive director for Isabel’s House, a local crisis nursery where she says she was inspired by the families she worked with who were trying to better their lives. As the Drury University Scholars Program coordinator, she worked with students from historically underrepresented groups that did not believe college was an option. Pratt did double duty as the executive director for Multicultural Programs at Missouri State University, where she says she “had the privilege to work with college students to help them stay in college and graduate.”
Pratt relocated to California in October 2015 to care for an ailing family member. At the time, she had recently been elected to the Springfield R-12 Board of Education. She said her father’s health is now much better, which has allowed her and her siblings to reevaluate the situation.
“This 18-month experience made me appreciate more of what is important in life. My father is still very important to me and now has a stronger support group around him. However, I missed my husband, I missed my home and Springfield has always been my home. I missed serving and providing opportunities to those who may need a hand up. I can go on and on about my excitement in returning to Springfield.”
Pratt served on the Impacting Poverty Commission and the United Way of the Ozarks’ Board of Directors and received training on collective impact models in 2014. While in California, she continued to shepherd Springfield’s Lumina Foundation grant (which funds an effort to improve the educational attainment of people in historically underrepresented populations).
“Because of the Lumina Foundation grant, we were able to take the great working collaborations that Springfield has and develop a model that has helped the city focus on higher education attainment with a very systematic approach,” she explained. “The opportunity to be a part of creating the road map to success for our citizens and then lead the effort to work collaboratively to determine who will do what by when to achieve a 5 percent reduction in poverty is the ultimate opportunity to truly serve the Springfield community.”
Serious efforts to address poverty began when Community Partnership of the Ozarks convened the 30-plus member, multidisciplinary Impacting Poverty Commission. The commission issued a Report and Call to Action in 2015 and provided an update in late 2016.
“The Impacting Poverty Commission was like a sponge in learning the needs of the community through research, presentations, poverty simulation and learning about national best practices,” said City Manager Greg Burris, who co-chaired the commission with Gail Smart.
From the beginning, the commission was trained on the aspects of collective impact. Many parts of the community were represented around the meeting table and with the City’s Community Listen tour through nine northwest Springfield neighborhoods, the community was well represented in sharing what they wanted and what they needed, Pratt said.
“I cannot think of a better time to return to Springfield to utilize my passion, knowledge and experience. This is a position that requires one to roll up their sleeves, hit the ground in the community and make a significant change in the lives of others with the relationships that continued and the partnerships, which is something Springfield does well,” Pratt added.
The Prosper Springfield director position reports to Community Partnership of the Ozarks executive director Janet Dankert and is funded thanks to the generosity of donors, which include Central Bank, Charlie and Mary Beth O’Reilly, Community Foundation of the Ozarks, Community Partnership of the Ozarks, Convoy of Hope, Mercy, Musgrave Foundation, Second Baptist Church and United Way of the Ozarks.
“I am thrilled that Francine is coming to back to our community and taking on this critical role. As the backbone organization for Prosper Springfield, CPO is excited to have her join our team,” Dankert said.
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For more information, contact Cora Scott, Director of Public Information & Civic Engagement, at 417-380-3352 or Janet Dankert at 417-888-2020. To schedule a time to talk with Francine Pratt, please email her directly at [email protected].
Download portrait of Francine Pratt
Download Prosper Springfield PowerPoint presentation
Download Prosper Springfield fact sheet
Download Francine Pratt resume