Learning communities provide a space and a structure for people to align around a shared goal. Effective communities are both aspirational and practical. They connect people, organizations, and systems that are eager to learn and work across boundaries, all the while holding members accountable to a common agenda, metrics, and outcomes. These communities enable participants to share results and learn from each other, thereby improving their ability to achieve rapid yet significant progress.
There are large, well-researched bodies of knowledge about learning communities, communities of practice and purpose, and collective impact. At the Center, we draw from that expert knowledge and apply it to our innovation approach. We see learning communities as critical components for building distributed leadership and scaling promising practices by connecting organizations, agencies, and philanthropies who both share the community’s goal and have the capability to operate at scale. The features of learning communities most relevant to our work are described below.