The Forum’s Approach to Community Impact

Every day, leaders across America launch exciting ideas to improve lives.

They bring together the smartest people in their communities to tackle the toughest problems. Armed with great intentions and unbound ambition, they .  .  .

Form partnerships.

Set goals.

Work hard.

Make progress.

Hit roadblocks.

Miss goals.

And then they wonder . . .

What can they do differently to achieve real impact?


Building an Ecosystem

To make broad-scale change that lasts, public systems and cross-sector partnerships must address the complex and interconnected challenges that impede progress. They need to build an ecosystem to facilitate shared learning, identify gaps and coalesce around a united vision and strategy. 

Cross-Systems Consulting helps systems leaders build the infrastructure to manage change within their agencies to meet the needs of children, youth and their families.  

Our approach follows five field-tested steps for collective impact.  

Systems leaders, cross-sector partnerships, collaborations, and stakeholder groups use theForum’s Approachto identify existing initiatives and partners, gain a clear understanding of priority issues, identify root causes, achieve consensus for needed change, and adjust interventions until desired results are achieved. 

The Five Steps

Each step assures that different aspects of alignment are realized:

  • Taking Shape promotes structural alignment across levels of community action.
  • Taking Aim promotes goal alignment.
  • Taking Stock assures that community partnerships have a shared understanding of root causes and underlying conditions – a shared diagnosis.
  • Targeting Action assures that the interventions and activities pursued by multiple community actors are mutually reinforcing.
  • Tracking Progress sets the stage for shared measurement which strengthens all steps and provides a platform for assessing collective impact.


The Forum’s Approach guides leaders through the steps while adhering to these guidelines:

  • Take a whole person or whole family perspective.
  • Promote alignment with other community actors, across silos.
  • Focus on local diagnoses of root causes and on broad systems change, engaging those with lived experiences.
  • Address immediate problems as part of an aspirational strategy for long-term well-being.


The Forum’s Approach works at multiple levels – from top leadership groups to neighborhood coalitions – and aligns the work across those levels by:

  • Aligning structures, goals and strategies.
  • Assuring mutually reinforcing interventions.
  • Assessing through shared measurements.

Our Vision

All young people reach their fullest potential - in education, work, and life.

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