The Why and How of Working with Communities through Collective Impact: An E-Course

The Why and How of Working with Communities through Collective Impact: An E-Course

This free e-course will help collective impact initiatives better understand why and how to work with community members.

The recent surge of interest and resources around collective impact principles has highlighted an important concern and challenge for many practitioners: Where does the community fit in? Living Cities constructed this e-course to equip those involved in collective impact initiatives with tools for including and working with community members.

Our free e-course walks participants through five modules, designed to help collective impact initiatives better understand how to work with community members. Each module includes resources, discussion questions and interactive exercises. While the course can be taken as an individual, we recommend that participants discuss the modules in a group with other members of their collective impact initiative.

Join the conversation on community engagement in collective impact online with #CEinCI.

Join the conversation on community engagement in collective impact online with #CEinCI.

This e-course is not intended to be the final word on community engagement in collective impact. Rather, it is a starting place for the conversation. We offer these curated resources as an introductory scan of the literature and a way for your collective impact initiative to begin developing strategies for partnering with community members more deeply.


We initially released a live iteration of this 5-week e-course in March 2015. You can now take the e-course at your own pace! We recommend completing these modules in groups, and spending about 1-2 hours a week of group time on each module.

At the end of each module, we ask that you complete a short post-module survey to confirm your work, shared feedback and help us continuously improve.

Course Components

Each module has four components to complete: Reading materials and/or video, an exercise, online discussion and a post-module survey. Module 5 includes a capstone webinar on racial equity which can be viewed as a stand-alone resource as well. Access or download any of the modules using the links below. The “download document” box at the top right corner of this page allows you download a PDF of this page for easy future reference.


  • You can also join the on-going conversation on the Collective Impact Forum community discussion page, which requires free registration for the Collective Impact Forum.
  • You can also follow the conversation on social media with hastag #CEinCI.
  • And sign-up now to get content related updates sent right to your inbox!

Access the Materials

Pre-course Survey

Take five minutes to establish a baseline for where you are in the work and give us useful data so we can understand your needs and continue to improve.

Module 1: Why Involve Community Members in Collective Impact

The first module focuses on the theoretical framework for working with community members, and helps participants understand how to link engagement strategies with engagement goals.

Module 2: Amplifying the Voice of Community in Collective Impact

The second module introduces participants to approaches for supporting community members to better contribute to collective impact initiatives.

Module 3: Creating Community Feedback Loops to Fast Track Change

The third module introduces the concept of “feedback loops” and how they can improve your work with community members.

Module 4: Applying Business Concepts to Community Engagement

The fourth modules of our e-course looks at opportunities for collective impact initiatives to apply business concepts to community engagement work.

Module 5: Working with Communities to Advance Racial Equity and Eliminate Disparities

The fifth and final module of our e-course explores how you can work with community members to promote racial equity through collective impact.

Post-course Survey

Take five minutes to reflect on your learning and provide feedback we will use to improve this course material.


More Resources

Internal Scan: Racial Equity and Inclusion Competency Survey Results 2021

On June 15, 2021 Living Cities administered our fifth annual Racial Equity and Inclusion (REI) competency survey to all staff to reflect on their individual competency related to understanding and advancing racial equity. The survey was originally designed by Hafizah Omar, with feedback and input from Nadia Owusu and Ratna Gill. The questions from this survey were adapted from GARE’s …

Systemic Racism 101: A Visual History of the Impact of Racism in America

Systemic Racism 101: A Visual History of the Impact of Racism in America Book by: Living Cities and Aminah Pilgrim Purchase today:  In collaboration with historian Aminah Pilgram, PhD, we break down concepts of systemic racism, starting with Columbus’ arrival in 1492 to the Black Lives Matter movement. This book offers historical overviews, infographics, and more to help you …

Living Cities Blended Catalyst Fund 2021 Annual Report

This report summarizes Living Cities Blended Catalyst Fund’s (BCF) activities during its sixth year of operations, from July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021 (FY21). During this fiscal year, the BCF Team fully committed the Fund as of March 31, 2021 reaching 26 investments totaling $33.5MM. The latter half of the BCF investments have been aligned with the iterated investment …

Answering the Call: Implementing the Promise of Equity in Procurement

The second City Accelerator cohort on Inclusive Procurement invited ten cities–Boston, Cleveland, El Paso, Houston, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Nashville, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and South Bend–to leverage their spending power and procurement systems to create greater and more equitable economic opportunity for Black and Brown-owned businesses. Throughout a year that included a global pandemic and racial justice uprisings in response to the …

Get Updates

We want to stay in touch with you! Sign up for our email list to receive updates on the progress we’re making with our network of partners, as well as helpful resources and blog posts.