Champions for Change 2021

, Online

Registration is now open!

Come join the Collective Impact Forum for Champions for Change 2021, a three-week online workshop that will feature a mix of weekly online sessions, online learning, and virtual office hours with faculty.

The Champions for Change workshop provides professional development to backbone teams, steering committees, and partners, and shares new insights on the work of backbones from the field.

Update: Champions for Change is eligible for United Way Flex Credits. Please see below for more information.

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When is Champions for Change 2021: This year’s virtual workshop will be held over three weeks, from September 21 through October 5, with learning sessions every Tuesday afternoon (Sept. 21, 28, and Oct. 5) and virtual office hours on Wednesdays and Fridays (Sept. 22, 24, 29, and Oct. 1.)

What is the Purpose of Champions for Change? Champions for Change provides practical advice, tools, and support for backbone teams working in collective impact initiatives. The backbone team—whether it is part of one organization or formed across multiple organizations— are dedicated to guiding a cross-sector group of stakeholders toward a common goal. The backbone is a critical component of collective impact, and this workshop is focused on supporting people in this role to move the collaborative forward.

Who Is Champions designed for? Champions for Change is designed specifically for those in the beginning/early stages of their collective impact work. If you are considering how to start an initiative, are prepping to launch your collaborative, or are in the first few years of your initiative, this workshop is specifically designed for you.

What’s different about this year’s Champions for Change? In the past, we have hosted this workshop over three consecutive days, but our virtual setting allows us to offer a more flexible format where participants can join learning events live with others or wait to watch later on their own, depending on their schedule. We’re also adding more time for Q&A and coaching from faculty, with four participant-only virtual office hours during the workshop.

What Are the Focus Areas for Champions for Change 2021?

Workshop topics include:

  • Launching and getting started in collective impact
  • Incorporating equity in your collective impact work
  • Clarifying the roles and leadership characteristics of the backbone, especially when navigating through current times
  • Fostering community collaboration and co-ownership in your initiative
  • Evaluating collective impact
  • Using data in collective impact work
  • Discussing the different ways collective impact can support communities during times of uncertainty and change, and how collective impact work will need to evolve during these times.

What is on the Champions 2021 Agenda?

Click here for the 2021 Workshop Draft Agenda; we will continue to make updates as further details are confirmed.

Key Components of Champions for Change 2021

  • Weekly learning sessions held on September 21, September 28, and October 5, to allow an easier balance with joining Champions and managing other priorities throughout the week. These sessions include plenary keynotes with leaders in the field, concrete “how to” sessions that dive deep into how to support collaboration, and practical tool sessions to learn techniques and practice with resources.
  • Recordings of all sessions so even if you miss a session, you can watch it before the next week’s gathering.
  • Virtual office hours twice each week to answer your questions and provide coaching on specific topics, including building collaborative leadership, embedding equity practices, and designing governance structures.
  • Chance to meet other participants via the workshop site to share what you are working on and hear from others in the collective impact field.

Join us this September 21 to kick-off a three week learning experience where we dive into all the various complexities that the backbone role holds.

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Champions for Change Speakers

Confirmed speakers for Champions for Change 2021 include:

  • Ebele Anidi, Associate Director, FSG
  • Sylvia Cheuy, Consulting Director, Collective Impact, Tamarack Institute Learning Centre
  • Bill Fulton, Founder and Co-Executive Director, The Civic Canopy
  • Kelly Greenwood, Founder and CEO, Mind Share Partners
  • Deb Halliday, Principal, Halliday & Associates
  • Jennifer Splansky Juster, Executive Director, Collective Impact Forum
  • Erin McClarty, Principal, Erin McClarty, PLLC
  • Ageno Otii, Director, Training and Educatin, The Civic Canopy
  • Paul Schmitz, Senior Advisor, Collective Impact Forum
  • Victor Tavarez, Senior Consultant, FSG
  • Kim Walker, Senior Director, Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Arabella Advisors
  • Junious Williams, Senior Advisor, Collective Impact Forum
  • Daniela Young, Collaboration Manager, The Civic Canopy

Have you attended Champions before?

This training is similar in theme and content to previous years of successful Champions for Change workshops. If you have attended our annual Champions for Change workshop in the past, we would recommend this opportunity if you are looking for a refresher of the content, or as a new learning opportunity for your teammates or stakeholders. If you are not looking for a refresher, but for a completely new workshop, we recommend our annual Action Summit  instead. The 2022 Action Summit will be held in Spring 2022.

Apply for a Registration Scholarship

Scholarship Applications Now Open – Applications due July 30, 2021.

A limited number of scholarships for a registration discount are available for this workshop. This discount will bring registration down to $50 for the full workshop. The due date for scholarship applications is July 30, 2021, and decisions will be made by August 2, 2021. Click here to submit your application.

Scholarship priorities are to help subsidize registration for those whose organizational budgets are less than $500,000, or who are from an underrepresented group within nonprofit leadership. People of color, people with disabilities, and people who identify on the LGBTQIA spectrum (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual) are encouraged to apply.

Applying for United Way Flex Credits

Champions for Change 2021 has been approved by United Way Worldwide for flexible credit use. This means that Canada- and U.S.-based United Ways which are in full compliance with membership requirements and current on dues payments, may receive reimbursements from their flexible credits.  Each participant can use flex credits for up to $299 toward participant registration.

We ask that each participant seeking reimbursement click and complete the following digital reimbursement form link by October 22, 2021. Once this deadline has passed, no further reimbursement requests can be accepted. A processing fee of $35 will be applied to each flex credit application.

Please note that it is the responsibility of each attendee to obtain internal approval to use flexible credits. Check with your supervisor or flex credit manager before submitting any reimbursement requests. For more information, access your account balance or view the flexible credit policy. If you have a question at any time, please contact Ask United Way (United Way Online access required).

Virtual Workshop Platform:

Champions for Change 2021 will be held using the online video-conferencing platform Zoom as well as a workshop app and website to share resources and connect with other attendees. Having tools that support your participation in viewing zoom meetings/webinars and accessing the workshop site- whether that’s with a computer, tablet, or smart phone, will be needed to fully participate in this workshop.

What Attendees have said about Champions for Change

“I’ve attended and planned plenty of conferences, and this was one of the best designed and managed I’ve seen. The pace was brisk without being exhausting, and it was highly interactive throughout.”

“Excellent conference – provided much needed content and dialogue on the role and structure of the backbone organization.”

Canceling a Registration:

Registered participants who decide to cancel their participation in Champions for Change, and forgo attending the virtual workshop, will receive a refund of their registration fee minus a 10% processing fee. The 10% fee covers non-recoupable administrative and credit card processing expenses associated with registration and event preparation.

Request for cancelations will be honored through September 10, 2021, and should be emailed to

Have Questions?

Have questions in the meantime? Please reach out to Tracy Timmons-Gray at:


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