Key Points

· Collaborative problem solving has a long and important tradition in philanthropy. While there are notable success stories, it is clear that large-scale impact does not occur by simply bringing various stakeholders together around a common agenda and then offering them funding for planning and implementation.

· One of the most critical ingredients is a high-leverage strategy, which in turn requires a coherent understanding of the system that surrounds the problem.

· Reclaiming Futures, a national initiative aimed at promoting juvenile-justice reform at the local level, explicitly promotes system-level problem-solving by offering a conceptual framework that each site uses to identify gaps in how court-involved youth are served by different agencies.

· This article evaluates six North Carolina sites that have adopted the Reclaiming Futures model. These sites can point to improvements in screening court-adjudicated youth for substance issues and in moving affected youth into assessment and treatment. These changes, at least in part, are the result of agencies that now share a common view of the larger system that affects young people with substance-abuse issues.

Open Access