Community Summits

Community Summits

For More Information: Community Summits,

To help communities and large organizations invested in a complex issue quickly find the common ground necessary to support action.


  • Alignment of the broad community around a specific course of action
  • The mobilization of energy for implementation
  • The enlistment of individuals and organizations in follow-up

When to Use:
When community alignment and participation around a course of action is required for the success of a change initiative

When Not to Use:
When all critical decisions have been made, and there is a desire to present the appearance of participation

Number of Participants:

Types of Participants:
All stakeholders, internal and external, necessary to achieve action around the central issue

Typical Duration:

  • Plan: 2–4 weeks
  • Solicit participants: 10–12 weeks
  • Summit meeting: 2–3 days
  • Follow-up: 6 months

Brief Example:
United Way of Rhode Island used summits involving a microcosm of the state to build support for change from a dispersed funding model to a concentrated impact project model.

Historical Context:
Created in 2003 by Gil Steil and Mal Watlington. Emery’s Open Systems Theory and Search Conference,
Weisbord and Janoff’s Future Search, Dannemiller’s Whole Scale Change, and Harrison Owen’s Open