Defining Your Ecosystem and Identifying the Right Partners

What is a Recovery-to-Work Ecosystem?

You might be completely new to recovery to work ecosystems or you might have devoted considerable time and thought to developing one in your region. In either case, it is likely that much of the recovery-focused work in your region takes place within the boundaries of specific projects and organizations. Helping people in recovery achieve lasting employment requires the coordination of organizations and services that have previously operated in silos.

The coordination of key community service providers and stakeholders to help people in recovery from substance use disorder can be thought of as an ecosystem of a partners from a variety of fields. This recovery-to-work ecosystem calls for partners to recognize the interrelatedness of their work: economic developers have a role in public health, the justice system needs to recognize their connection to workforce development, and so on.

Strong regional ecosystems require dedicated planning and leadership along with time and intention. Every region has a unique landscape of people, organizations, and projects. Each regional recovery to work ecosystem will look different. It’s important to start with an understanding of what success looks like for your region and how your existing partners and projects are connected.

 After completing phase 1, you should have the following outcomes:

  A better understanding of the unique landscape of people and organizations focused on recovery work in your region.

  A short statement that summarizes your organization’s vision of a successful recovery-to-work ecosystem.

  An initial outreach list of partners that can make that vision of success a reality.


Think Big about the Recovery to Work Ecosystem Approach

ARC captures the end goal of a regional Recovery to Work ecosystem in a diagram that shows nine categories of organizations that should be working together to support people in recovery with successful employment.

  Resource: ARC’s Recovery to Work Diagram

On the ground in regions across Appalachia, connecting these organizations around a common vision can be a significant challenge. DDAA’s Recovery to Work Ecosystem Framework distills the common ground for collaboration to three goals: (1) organizing regional stakeholders to create a continuum of care; (2) engaging and supporting businesses as recovery-to-work partners and (3) facilitating wrap-around support for workers in recovery.

  Activity: Use the Recovery to Work Ecosystem Framework to start identifying the recovery to work ecosystem that could exist or may already exist in your region.

Every region has a different starting point in building their recovery to work ecosystem. What does effective partnership look like? Read the case study below to learn from three examples of effective partnerships: one, in Georgia, that took advantage of an existing ecosystem to support a new stream of recovery-focused work in the region; another, in Kentucky, that started from the viewpoint of all the support a person in recovery needs to be successful in a job; and another, in Ohio, that started with the end goal of successful employees from the viewpoint of employers.

Case Study: Learn about Recovery to Work ecosystems in development in Georgia, Kentucky, and Ohio.


Set Your Organization’s Vision for a Successful Regional Ecosystem

Even with the same end goal of a more robust recovery-to-work ecosystem, success will look different in every region. And, different organizations within the same region will often have different visions of success. The first step to developing shared goals for a region is to understand your organization’s unique vision of a successful recovery-to-work ecosystem.

  Activity: Identify the key elements of a successful recovery-to-work ecosystem from your organization’s point of view.

  Community Spotlight: Learn from a public health department in Kentucky that created an elevator pitch that captures their vision for success.


Identify a Leadership Team with Organizations that are Critical to a Successful Ecosystem

Successful regional ecosystems have strong leadership teams that reflect organizational diversity. What successful ecosystems have in common is less about the exact organizations in leadership and more about the type of people engaged.

  Activity: Identify the organizations in your region that are part of the recovery-to-work ecosystem and start to develop an engagement strategy.

        • Create a list of organizations that may be part of your regional ecosystem. Use the prompts to create a list and/or database of names of people and organizations in each category.
        • Use the Stakeholder Analysis Quadrant to develop an outreach strategy that identifies RTW champions, stakeholders to prioritize for engagement, stakeholders to learn more about, and stakeholders to keep informed.

When you have a short list of organizations to include in your recovery-to-work leadership team, start engaging this group to share your vision for success in your region and to invite their input on what success looks like and how to achieve it.

  Template: Use this email template as a starting point for outreach.

  Activity: Include a community interest assessment form with email outreach.