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New Survey Finds that Place-based Initiatives are Building Six Types of Collective Capacity to Create Healthier, More Equitable Communities

Collective Community Capacity (C3) Survey Report highlights six aspects of collective capacity that place-based initiatives in the Population Change Learning Community are building to create healthier, more equitable communities.


CHICAGO, November 16, 2020 – The Collective Community Capacity Survey conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago in partnership with the Population Change Learning Community, finds that placed-based initiatives are building collective capacity in six areas to support, sustain, and spread community change. These capacities are: 

  1. Collaboration to create and practice a shared vision

  2. Use of data to guide community change efforts

  3. Active engagement in community change efforts

  4. Distributed leadership in equity-focused community change efforts

  5. Effective, innovative community change programs, policies, and practices

  6. Infrastructure to support, sustain, and spread community change


Communities across the United States are undertaking collective action to address persistent barriers to community-well-being. Rather than implementing stand-alone programs or projects, place-based initiatives are using a more holistic approach to improve outcomes at a population level. Such initiatives support collective action to respond to population inequities and poor outcomes by building their collective capacity to achieve positive outcomes for those residing in their community.


“Community change is a difficult goal to achieve,” said Margaret Hargreaves, senior fellow with NORC at the University of Chicago. “The results of these surveys show that, on average, the sites surveyed had “a great deal” of capacity to collaborate to create and practice a shared vision and to actively engage in community change efforts, but they only “somewhat” had the infrastructure to support, sustain, and spread community change. 


“Placed based initiatives are always challenged to know if the work they are doing is having an impact at a population level. Our hope is the Population Change Learning Community’s work to identify these six collective capacities and support the development of the C3 Survey will aid in the learning and development of place based initiatives both nationally and internationally. We believe the C3 is an important tool to strengthen the collective capacities of place based organizations and networks needed for large systems change efforts. ” said Patricia Bowie, Managing Director of the Population Change Institute.


The seven sites participating in this round of the C3 survey include: R.O.C.K. Mat-Su (Mat-Su Borough, AK); the Magnolia Community Initiative (Los Angeles, CA); Vital Village Network (Boston, MA); Brownsville Partnership (Brooklyn, NY); Eastside Community – United Way (San Antonio, TX); Amani Neighborhood (Milwaukee, WI); and Avenues of Change – Guilford West (Surrey, British Columbia).

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Survey Methodology

NORC used Qualtrics, an online survey tool, to program and implement the C3 survey. The survey was customized for each of the seven site-specific initiatives to include: (a) its vision, (b) its community of focus, and (c) its network name. The fielding of the survey was staggered across the seven sites, between July 2019 and March 2020. The survey was released to a sample of 189 network members across the seven sites, of which 170 people responded to the survey, achieving a response rate of 89.9 percent.


Survey analyses confirmed the validity and reliability of the survey’s capacity measures with Chronbach Alpha scale scores between .867 and .946. Survey analyses also informed several improvements in the instrument, streamlining the instrument to focus on the most essential questions and reduce the time spent completing the survey.

The Survey

Co-owner acknowledgement: The Collective Community Capacity (C3) Survey is collectively owned and managed by NORC, the Children’s Bureau of Southern California, the Population Change Institute, and Casey Family Programs. The survey has recently been modified with permission from the co-owners. 

Let’s Work Together

PopChange works with University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) to complete and analyze the survey results for communities and networks.  If your organization or network is interested in the survey, please submit this form today.

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