Unit 3 Section 3.1: Understanding What We Mean by “Glue”

Organizational structure of the partnership

While partnerships are fragile by nature, perhaps CBPR partnerships that bridge community and institutions are even more so. When two or more entities from very different settings are coming together for a common goal, it is essential to create the “glue” that will keep the partnership together by setting up a strong infrastructure from the start.

General Definition of Glue: “The adhesive substance of a partnership that promotes and sustains trust, communication, connectedness, and meaningful work efforts and products. Glue ranges from building sweat equity to establishing credibility, to being able to translate and navigate between the community and academic realms. Glue resonates in the process, infrastructure, policies and procedures that honor open communication, fairness, trust, and meaningful planning processes that ensure each partner is respected and heard.“

Exercise 3.1.1: Understanding “Glue”, Part I

Divide into pairs of two people and discuss your answers to these questions (10 minutes):

  • What does “glue” mean for your partnership?

  • What kinds of structures, policies, processes, and people constitute “glue” for your partnership?

Report back a few examples from some of the pairs to get a sampling of what groups came up with during the brainstorming period (20 minutes).

As defined above, glue for partnerships can include policies, procedures and processes aimed at strengthening the partnership. These should be developed collaboratively. In some instances the Principal Investigators or partnership staff may take the lead in drafting the policies, and then present them as a draft version to the partners. These drafts should be open for revision. In other partnerships, the community and academic partners may develop policies together during meetings and retreats. Partnerships should allow for the degree of collaboration that makes the most sense given the interests and availability of the different partners. Guidelines and policies should be revised periodically, especially when new situations arise or new partners join the group.

Exercise 3.1.2: Understanding “Glue”, Part II

In small groups or as a large group, discuss answers to these questions (15 minutes):

  • What are some strategies you would want to implement for your partnership that would help to generate glue? What are the potential challenges to implementing these strategies?

  • What are some of the policies and procedures you would want to adopt (or revise) and adhere to for your partnership that would help to generate glue?

If using small groups, report back a few examples from the groups to get a sampling of what they came up with during the brainstorming period (15 minutes).

Example 3.1.3: What Resources Do You Need to Support Your Partnership?

The following is a list of in-kind and financial resources that are needed to support our collaborative process:

  • A convenient meeting space

  • A designated community consultant to provide support for the community organization partners

  • Communications to assure that everyone is aware of agendas, decisions, etc.

  • Resources to provide occasional retreats for the partnership to reevaluate and plan strategically

  • Time spent in collaboration and meetings by all organizational representatives

  • Personnel to coordinate communications and meetings between partners and the logistics of meetings such as room booking and set-up.

From Flint URC Proposal