Looking Ahead to 2024: Reflections from Our Team


As we look ahead to 2024, the Collective Impact Forum team shares below our reflections and hopes for the year ahead. Above all else, we hope that 2024 brings peace, joy and good health to you, your families, and communities.

Jennifer Splansky Juster

Executive Director, Collective Impact Forum

Hold the focus on equity: In response to the SCOTUS ruling on affirmative action, and other cultural shifts facing many communities, I hope that collaboratives will become even great advocates for equity for those marginalized and discriminated against in their communities.

This will require collaboratives to recommit to a North Star that centers equity, connect across movements, and create inclusive spaces for all to engage. It will also require collaboratives to more intentionally and deeply connect with organizers, advocates, and litigation efforts to ensure a focus on equity remains a priority in their community and beyond.

Courtney W. Robertson

Director of Programs and Partnerships, Collective Impact Forum

Invest in talent development and retention: Reflecting on my time working in place as a partner within a collaborative and as a backbone team member, the most valuable asset across those spaces were the people.

People are at the heart of social change so retaining current and developing future leaders, particularly Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, is critical to the pursuit of equity-centered systems change and should be top of mind as we prepare for the long term sustainability of work happening in place. More specifically, there is a need to invest in capabilities around deep listening, centering equity, and pursuing systems change.


Headshot of Paul SchmitzPaul Schmitz

Senior Advisor, Collective Impact Forum

Move the Needle: I came to collective impact as an approach after years of frustration at seeing great programs achieve outcomes with limited groups of people while the population level data on issues like educational achievement, birth outcomes, and homelessness became worse.

The whole point of collective impact is the impact. In recent years, we’ve encouraged collectives to do important inner work on practices such as racial equity, trust, and community engagement, and we’ve been grateful to see groups take on this important work. But the work inside the collective is meant to strengthen not divert the attention to impact.

I’m hoping in 2024 to see more collectives demonstrate tangible population-level impacts. I’d love to see more stories about groups really moving the needle.


Cindy Santos

Senior Associate, Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions

Philanthropy must make a long-term commitment to support intersectional, community-driven social change.

Healthy, innovative, effective, and inclusive collaboratives that can withstand the challenges of ever-changing contexts require a strong infrastructure.

To achieve the greatest impact, mission-driven organizations solving complex social problems need long-term flexible funding to build resilient organizations and the time to cultivate relationships necessary to galvanize partners working at the nexus of class, gender, and race.


Junious WilliamsJunious Williams

Senior Advisor, Collective Impact Forum

Nothing else matters if there is no American democracy: As we continue our efforts to improve outcomes on our specific focal problem or cluster of issues, I hope and wish we find time and energy in these community change collaboratives to support and participate in advocacy to save our democracy.

Kids reading at grade level is useless if fascists control what they can read. Clean air and water will mean nothing if people of color are barred from places and spaces to breath freely by the climate change deniers. Living wages will mean little if we so restrict immigration that there are no people immigrating who are looking for entry level work and an opportunity at the American dream by those who forget their ancestors were immigrants.

As much as the problems our collaborative addresses are critically important to building strong, thriving communities, none of them matter a damn bit if we are not enjoying the victories in a democratic nation. I wish we all add preserving democracy and resisting fascism to our priority problem lists.


Frank MirabalFrank Mirabal

Senior Advisor, Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions

Center Youth Voice: In 2024, I’m hoping to see more collective impact initiatives engage young people in meaningful ways.

In doing this, I’m hoping to see more youth/adult partnership in collective impact, where young people hold power and their voices are centered in the conversation and in the strategy work.

This will probably require reimagining the spaces that young people engage in to reduce tokenization and elevate youth voice in decision-making processes.


Tracy Timmons-Gray

Associate Director, Collective Impact Forum

Find your light: I’m not trying to sound like words you can find stenciled on a wall-hanging. I mention this as sometime this year I was in a meeting, and someone had started a simple ice breaker like, “What’s some joy you felt recently?” and I almost broke down in tears because I didn’t know what that meant anymore.

That’s a really hard spot to be in or remain in, and I’m sure many of you have experienced a similar feeling of lowness, especially as you grind on through very challenging problems, conflicts, and circumstances, such as fighting for democracy, like Junious mentioned above. There’s no easy solution to work past grief, frustration, or disappointment, and no easy fix to bring a feeling of Joy, progress, or relief.

I hope we all can find what we need to keep feeling connected to ourselves and each other, and connected to whatever out there that is greater than us—a dream, a wish, a hope for a better, and yes, more joyous future—together.

Gratitude to You

From the CIF team, thank you so much for all your work this year, and we look forward to being in community next year and beyond.


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