Bold innovation can originate from a single organization or even one person’s mind. But more often than not, ideas come to fruition with help from others. Collaboration often delivers on the classic axiom that there is strength in numbers. Whether on a small scale with two colleagues working on a project or with crowdsourcing participants from all over the world, collaboration brings diverse skill sets together to create and transform. This is a traditional hallmark of higher education and is embraced at Waubonsee Community College.

A central element of Waubonsee’s strategic planning process is the development of an annual Presidential Action Initiative. This initiative provides clear direction for the Waubonsee community on emerging issues and sets the tone and theme for the year. This year’s focus is “Excellence through Collaboration,” which builds on last year’s initiative, “Excellence through Engagement.”

Working together comes naturally at Waubonsee. We have more than 50 internal teams and committees that regularly collaborate on projects to benefit our students and our community. A recent example is the completion of the first year of a two-year participation in the Foundations of Excellence® program, which examines both the first-year experience and the transfer student experience to improve student outcomes. This project drew upon the knowledge and passion of every area of the college, including more than 100 faculty, staff and students. We will be implementing the initial findings in the coming months and for years to come.

One of our most visible collaborative projects began within the college but quickly drew in community partners to extend its reach and positive impact for local residents. When the recession hit, we quickly formed a recession response team to evaluate how the college could help not just our students impacted by the recession but also those in the community. Dubbing this work our Brighter Futures Initiative, we launched a new scholarship program for the unemployed, revitalized a job club, expanded our Career Services offerings and looked for ways to bring our resources to the community. This has led to a number of collaborative community events in Aurora, Sugar Grove, Sandwich and most recently in Plano. In June, we partnered with numerous agencies, economic development organizations and others to offer the Kendall County Job Resource Fair at our two-year-old Plano Campus. This highly successful Brighter Futures Initiative continues to provide opportunities to those who need it most.

Just this month, we hosted the Hiring Our Heroes Job Fair at the college’s Sugar Grove Campus to help veterans and their spouses find employment. The fair is a project of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Valley Industrial Association took the lead locally and collaborated with several veterans organizations, many of our local chambers of commerce and Waubonsee. This is exactly the type of event that could not happen without the hard work of many groups coming together to take action.

From taking a central role in college readiness to working to improve the local economy one graduate at a time, Waubonsee serves as a hub of collaboration throughout our 600-square-mile college district. I’ve outlined just a handful of the numerous examples of collaboration that take place every day at the college and in the community. Do you see other ways Waubonsee can work with you or your organization to make a difference? If so, let me know. I’d love to hear your ideas at