Collective Impact

“The complex nature of most social problems belies the idea that any single program or organization, however well managed and funded, can single handedly create lasting large scale change.”

Hanleybrown, F., Kania, J., & Kramer, M. (2012). Channeling Change: Making Collective Impact Work. Stanford Social Innovation Review.

What is Collective Impact?

According to John Kania and Mark Kramer, “collective Impact initiatives are long term commitments by a group of important actors from different sectors to a common agenda for solving a specific social problem.” To be effective, they must meet five criteria: 1) common agenda; 2) shared measurement system; 3) mutually reinforcing activities; 4) continuous communication; 5) backbone organization. CCMA’s Collective Impact Initiative employs and supports a shared process and common assessment for all CCMA AmeriCorps VISTA programs and associated initiatives in addressing their common goals of combating inequality and poverty through advancing the attitudes, skills, and understandings necessary for college, career, and civic readiness. 

How does this learning model work?

In essence, all of this work is about learning/understanding and change. CCMA has developed a theory of change that highlights the gifts of individuals and communities. This means actively engaging the community with whom you are working in program development and implementation, eventually moving from a “WITH” model of engagement to one created and sustained “BY” the community itself (See: Four Modes of Change). This structure centers the gifts of the communityjust as David Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle works to discover the same gifts in individuals.

The Collective Impact Initiative’s theory of change utilizes Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle (see below), through which learners build upon their previous experiences via reflection, conceptualization, and experimentation. Using this method, participants are engaged in deeper meaning-making and complex understanding processes. Reflective practice is proven to be key in fostering this self-empowering experiential learning model, through systematic and rigorous reflection prompts. As a result, participants are intentionally engaged in considering the effects of their choices. The Collective Impact Initiative encourages reflective practice to be a critical component of CCMA programs, engaging all participants in fostering their metacognition, or “thinking about their thinking.” This process results in individuals who think more critically than their peers, are more intentional in their choices, and are more embracing of change and challenge: all of which are characteristics of someone that is ready for college, a career, and civic engagement.

What is CCMA’s role?

Acting as the backbone organization in this initiative, CCMA’s Collective Impact Initiative will ensure the development of common goals and shared measurements of success, facilitate open communication and network development, and secure financial resources for the initiative. By bringing together VISTA members, their supervisors, and relevant community partners for cross-program conversations focusing on community issues and how they apply to the focus areas of Education, Health and Food Security/Sovereignty, and Community Development, we can collaborate to implement effective practices and assess/evaluate the collective impact of CCMA supported programs.

 As this program is developed through a 3-year grant, CCMA is inviting all member institutions with or without a VISTA grant to engage local and regional agencies, appropriate governmental officials, citizens, and business and community leaders in the formation of robust networks as we develop and utilize a shared pedagogy and assessment measures that easily apply to a program in any focus area. 

Collective Impact Team

Anthony Wagner VMr. Anthony Wagner V


Ms. Kate McGeehan


Collective Impact Resources