Collective Impact Task Force & Workstreams: Utilizing Black-Centered Design

To Solve Complex Challenges


The African American Leadership Forum’s Collective Impact Task Force and Workstream cohort is comprised of Black leaders who are committed to empowering the Black community by identifying our community’s most pressing challenges and partnering with organizations to develop community engagement projects to solve them. To do this, these leaders have utilized a Black-Centered Design (BCD) process that involves empathizing with the Black community to get insights and information about how to solve the issues that most impact their lives.  Based on information received from the community, the Task Force creates problem statements that describe what the most pressing challenges are. After this, Workstream Committees are developed to help solve the problems.

About BCD: Empathize is the first step in the Black-Centered Design methodology and involves centering the needs of and understanding the community sought to empower before developing solutions to problems. To do this, AALF’s collective impact cohort works to engage our community in the ideating process about what challenges are most pressing in the Black community and what solutions are needed. The second step is to define, and this stage of the process helps to ground much of the work that happens after it. In the define stage, our cohort engages in deep learning about the African American community’s challenges in Education, Health & Wellness, Economic Development, and Family & Culture, informed by the expressed needs of the Black community, and identifies problem statements (or statements that describe the challenges facing our community, such as, “there is a need for access to additional green space in the Black community” or “we need more healers”).

After developing several problem statements, the cohort moves on to the ideate stage of the process in which they develop solutions to these statements. In the prototyping, test, and iterate stages of the program the cohort partners with organizations to develop and implement community engagement projects that support African American empowerment and foster the closing of gaps and disparities in our community.

Task Force Responsibilities: Primary Collective Impact Task Force responsibilities include

  • Aligning with AALF’s Collective Impact Plan, Strategic Plan objectives, and outputs for fiscal year
  • Reviewing Forum Network volunteer interests
  • Identifying Forum Network leader profiles, identifying (“who” does the work, “who” leads, and who “participates” in committees, cohorts, fellowships, forums, and events)
  • Designing a plan of action based on identified need(s)
  • Communicating and recruiting identified Forum Network leaders
  • Creating a master calendar for community engagement
  • Evaluating year-end outcomes of organizational impact
  • Co-leading Workstream committees (Workstreams are volunteer-based work groups to move work created in the Task Force forward)

Workstream Responsibilities: Participants Create Community Partnerships, Implement Community Work Plan, Align the Forum’s Collective Impact Plan to community, Evaluate Year-End Outcomes and commit to a 6-month work detail.

Reflections from Past Task Force Participants

“In the Task Force we’re currently structuring goals that, on some level, meet concerns that have risen from our community around AALF’s four focus areas. This work relates to my personal community engagement experiences in several ways, but the main thing is that it helps to put strategy to action with an actual intended outcome — this is encouraging.” – Anissa Keyes, 2019/2020 Task Force Member

“The overall theme of AALF’s Collective Impact Task Force meetings has been powerful within itself. Honing in on Family & Culture, Education, Health & Wellness, and Economic Development are vital factors in terms of the future of the Black community. While it’s really hard to focus on any one area without realizing the importance of how they all connect, my level of expertise is Education and Family & Culture. Since joining the Task Force, I’ve learned from my peers and I’ve gained greater appreciation for working intergenerationally. Establishing communication between age groups is necessary for moving the dial.” – Rose McGee, 2019/2020 Task Force Member

“In Collective Impact Task Force we’re currently talking about equity, justice, empowerment and creating sustained fundamental progress in the Black community. This relates to my personal community engagement experiences as it provides an approach that is more focused on institutional and systemic level change.” – Courtney Schroeder, 2019/2020 Task Force Member

Interested in becoming a Network contributor by supporting AALF’s Collective Impact effort? Contact Niila Hebert, Vice President of Network Alignment, at

Meet Niila Hebert, a Senior Program Director at the time this video was made. She has since been promoted to Vice President of Network Alignment.