Longtime community leader Francine Pratt is returning to Springfield to head a new, collective-impact-model initiative aimed at lifting people out of poverty.
The Impacting Poverty Commission announced on Tuesday that Pratt will oversee Prosper Springfield, which connects over 300 partner organizations in helping impoverished citizens measurably improve their situations.
The Prosper Springfield director position reports to Community Partnership of the Ozarks Executive Director Janet Dankert, who spoke at Tuesday’s news conference.
“Prosper Springfield capitalizes on the strengths we already have in place as collaborative organizations and it seeks to align our interest to more efficiently address poverty upstream,” Dankert said.
The initiative will provide education, health, housing and financial security assistance to the community.
Pratt joined the announcement via video chat. She has been living in California since October 2015 to care for her ailing father, whose health has since improved. Pratt said she’s excited to move back and join her husband and the Springfield community.
“It’s these opportunities with my experience nationally that I’m excited to come back to Springfield to be able to support and to present, and to work with a team that is mostly known for collaboration across the nation and that’s the folks of Springfield who collaborate so well together,” Pratt said.
Pratt has more than 25 years of experience leading government, private, public and non-profit organizations. She formerly served as executive director of Isabel’s House, oversaw Multicultural Programs at Missouri State University, and was Drury University’s Scholars House Program coordinator. She was six months into her term on the Springfield School Board when she left to care for her father.
Proposer Springfield joins the city’s Zone Blitz initiative and The Northwest Project at Fairbanks, among others.
Zone 1 Councilwoman Phyllis Ferguson says they are excited to have Prosper Springfield serve as home base for resources that will improve the community.
“Now you go to one place instead of maybe three of four to talk to people to find out what we can do to move the needle to help my life,” Ferguson said.
Propser Springfield’s vision is to create a collective impact initiative focusing on a unified community goal of reducing poverty in Springfield and Greene County by 5 percent by 2030. In January, the Impacting Poverty Commission released its one-year report showing the county’s poverty rate dropped from 20.6 percent in 2014 to 17.7 percent in 2015.
In a news release, 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 is scheduled to return mid-April.
According to a document provided by Prosper Springfield, An initial $100,000 is needed over three years to fund a full-time director.