Centering Equity in Collective Impact

10 years after the article that coined “collective impact” and disseminated the framework around the world, the team at the Collective Impact Forum (and the original authors) were invited to follow up with our biggest lesson about this work. We all agreed that the most important thing we could emphasize was about the importance of centering equity.

We offer a new definition of collective impact: a network of community members, organizations, and institutions that advance equity by learning together, aligning, and integrating their actions to achieve population and systems-level change. Equity is in the center of this definition because one cannot move population or systems change without redressing  disparities in opportunities, outcomes, and representation.

We recommend five practices for centering equity with practical steps and stories to illustrate how it works:

  1. Ground the work in data and context, and target solutions.
  2. Focus on systems change, in addition to programs and services.
  3. Shift power within the collective.
  4. Listen to and act with community.
  5. Build equity leadership and accountability.

Thank you to my amazing co-authors: John Kania, Junious WilliamsSheri Brady, Mark Kramer & Jennifer Splansky Juster