Community Transformation

Iterative Impacts

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Participants are emboldened to build on the relationships and skills they’ve developed to pursue change in their communities going forward.

The long-term goal of this type of cross-sector collaboration is to strengthen people—in terms of their confidence, skills, and networks—so they are fully competent to pursue change in their communities beyond the close of a particular initiative.

Part of that change involves learning to navigate systems effectively and hold institutions accountable as individuals pursue their community interests and work to get their needs met.

During the final stages of the formal collaboration, participants are encouraged to build on collaborative relationships they’ve developed, monitor the progress of the project they’ve worked on, and involve more and more people in subsequent cross-sector problem solving and planning efforts.

The essential, long-term goal is to build the capacity to change things in the community.

  • Encourage participants to track the progress of their products after project completion.
  • Inform participants about how to monitor post-project implementation.
  • Enable group members to imagine the impact of their recommendations on various audiences/constituencies.

Benchmarks of success:
A key goal of a collaborative process is to enable people to be more confident in pursuing their interests and getting their needs met. This is accomplished over time in several ways.

  • As people come to know each other more deeply, they can recognize and value their talents and build trust and faith in one another. This allows them to work from a place of mutuality instead of unilateralism.
  • A collaborative process strengthens each participant’s network of connections inside and outside the working group, and lets them learn that they can count on one another for help.
  • As participants gain pride in what they have achieved, they gain confidence about undertaking future endeavors.
  • As participants learn about and experience collaboration, they are likely to embrace it as a preferred approach to problem solving and apply it to subsequent initiatives.
  • Old hostilities and misunderstandings can often become clarified and worked through in the course of a collaboration, even when this was not a stated goal of the initiative.
  • Where the overall goal is to change things in the community, a key objective is to reduce the divisions that exist between communities and institutions.
  • With more confidence and better connections, working group participants become empowered to go directly to the sources that can help them get what they need to accomplish their goals.
  • A collaborative process that teaches people more about the “toeholds” and pathways to working effectively with institutions helps them make better use of limited resources by learning to navigate systems effectively.
  • While systems tend to favor “bigger players” rather than everyday people, a goal of the collaborative process is to help people learn how to hold institutions and systems accountable so that they adhere to the laws, procedures, and regulations they should be following.


Indicators of long-term impact:

  • Information flow is more vigorous, as evidenced by the expansion of list serves and newsletter distribution, and by changes in the composition of advisory groups to include a wider demographic.
  • Cross-sector collaboration and consultation occurs by choice, even if it is not required as part of an official process.
  • Better solutions (as defined by all sectors) are reached more expeditiously.
  • More community members are able to participate effectively and comfortably in other cross-sector problem solving and planning efforts.
  • Resources are more effectively utilized.



Very few of the people who will be affected were actually participants in the collaboration.
Those people were not touched by the experience may not be “bought in” to the change and cannot be expected to invest their time and energy to produce the change. Working group participants can anticipate this and create strategies for handling it. As an example, members could develop a longer-term plan that includes breaking the group’s goals into small steps that are intentionally designed to involve more and more people as time goes on.

Related Examples

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