Why Mosaic?

Why This Project is Needed

Eroding Social Capital

Social capital is the invisible web of human relationships, rooted in trust and mutual cooperation. It allows communities to function effectively and also creates the foundation necessary to achieve their potential for prosperity. Recent research on social capital in the US shows that over the past few decades, we as a country have become increasingly disconnected from each other—living a more isolated and disconnected existence. If this current condition persists, particularly across race and ethnicity, it will result in further polarization, conflict, and social and economic stagnation.

Changing Demographics

The United States is undergoing a significant shift in its population. The “minority” population is steadily increasing. By 2050, it is projected to become the majority population. In many of our major metropolitan communities, this shift has already occurred. Increasing diversity creates many challenges for a community, such as developing or maintaining social cohesiveness. The solution must encourage mutual cooperation and collaboration.

Segregation Between Races

There has been an explosion of diversity across the US in recent years. In 49 out of the 50 states, minority groups make up an increasing share of the population. Despite this flood of diversity, recent research indicates that the United States is currently suffering from the greatest segregation between races within this past century. This separation has a devastating impact on society and perpetuates itself through breeding misunderstandings and fear. As a result, we are suffering from the social and economic ills born from a society wracked with disunity. We are truly a multi-racial society. If we are to thrive as a community, we need skills to form trusting relationships and to build a new social structure and economy which benefits all citizens.

Builds Social Capital Across Difference

Eroding social capital and changing demographics, in combination with a widening racial inequity, presents a particular challenge. Specifically, social capital is strongest among people of similar backgrounds and weakest among people of differing backgrounds (See Robert D. Putnam, Bowling Alone). This is the strategic center of Mosaic Partnerships™. The program builds social capital across differences, two people at a time.

Social Capital and Mosaic Partnerships™

The program assists communities in leveraging its diversity by increasing interconnectedness, communication, collaboration, and understanding. The strengthening of these relationships launches a community on the path to building social capital.

A wide variety of specific social and economic benefits flow from the trust, reciprocity, information, and cooperation associated with cohesive social networks. Research indicates that social capital, like financial capital and human capital, has a significant impact on the functioning and productivity of organizations and communities. There is a direct correlation between levels of social capital and several social and economic conditions of a community (See Robert D. Putnam, Bowling Alone). For example, communities with high social capital enjoy:

  • Greater academic achievement
  • Healthier children (physically and psychologically)
  • Poverty alleviation
  • Reduced levels of crime
  • Faster growing economies
  • More efficient governmental institutions
  • Healthier and happier citizens

Social Capital and Economic Prosperity

Communities with high social capital are more economically efficient. They experience reduced transaction costs and enjoy a flow of information that facilitates the creation and fulfillment of opportunities. Harvard University professor, Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone, states that social capital acts to lubricate the economic life of a community. In “Social Capital: The Missing Link?” the World Bank states that, “social capital is the glue that holds societies together and without which there can be no economic growth or human well-being.” Taking this a step further, Francis Fukuyama, author of Trust, expresses that economies whose citizens have high social capital will dominate the 21st century.

Mosaic Partnerships™ program’s Impact on Social Capital Development

Building social capital requires that we transcend our social and professional identities to connect with people unlike ourselves. This is the essence of Mosaic Partnerships™—to build social capital within diversity. The Mosaic Process encourages and assists the participants to extend beyond their comfort zone and connect with other members of the community with whom they would not normally have the opportunity to genuinely know. This process not only results in the personal development of the participants, but also has deep and far reaching effects on the future of a community.

Bridging the gap in our social networks is critical to our rapidly diversifying communities. To draw strength from our diversity, we must engage in collective action, leveraging the talents and skills that each individual possesses. An inclusive collective action depends upon the integration of social networks. The communities that achieve a high level of social cohesion will be well positioned as the world transitions into a global community.

The importance of the Mosaic Partnerships™ program’s ability to create interchange between social networks cannot be overstated. The connection across networks creates the “weak tie” relationships that are crucial to the social and economic development of a community. “Weak ties” refer to relationships that are more distant; whereas strong ties are those that one has with people with a sociological niche similar to their own, such as relatives and intimate friends. While strong ties have their benefits in a community, in that they support solidarity, it is the weak ties that are the key mechanism for mobilizing resources, ideas, and information. This encompasses processes like finding or filling a job, solving a problem, responding to a crisis, launching a new product, locating a service, and establishing a new enterprise. Weak ties are also crucial to the creative environment of a community because they allow for rapid entry of new people and absorption of new ideas.

The Mosaic Partnerships™ process bridges diverse networks of people within a community and, thereby, proliferates weak tie relationships, particularly across race and ethnicity, ultimately leading to the prosperity of the community as a whole.