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Turning outward, together.

To strengthen communities, we need a network of trained professionals who have the skills, tools, and support to make change. But first, we need a common language.


People have lost trust in organizations and institutions who are striving to help those very people. They are frustrated by an inability to come together and solve our common challenges. They feel voiceless and powerless, but want to make a difference.

At the same time, well-intentioned leaders and organizations have become removed from the reality of peoples' lives. Often, we become inwardly focused, professionalized, driven by best practices, evaluating big data, and coordinating processes at all cost. Yet, we don't have the results we need.

Turning Outward is a way to reorient ourselves, our communities, and our institutions toward finding a new path forward.


Turning Outward

Turning Outward is a fundamental mindset shift necessary to authentically understand an engage communities. It helps you use your community—not your conference room—as the reference point for your choices and actions.

This methodology—honed over the past 30-years of research and experience—is the first step in transforming yourself and your team in service of your broader goals.


The Turning Outward approach is rooted in five core ideas:


Packaging Our Approach

We develop people in our approach through experiential learning and coaching so that you learn how to use the ideas and practices to make better choices about your work. We work with you to adopt our approach so that it becomes part of how live and work day in and day out.

To learn more about how we package our approach to support your efforts, check out our services.


Upcoming Opportunities


by Rich Harwood




Waving the Community's Flag: Winchester and Clark County's Moment

The central challenge facing Winchester and Clark County—like so many other places throughout our country—is how to make community a common enterprise again. At the conclusion of this report, there are seven key steps to do just that. Making progress—real progress—is doable and achievable if people come together to act. 


Boards Turning Outward: Getting Beyond the Organization-First Approach

This report illustrates the results of the conversations that the Harwood Institute had with board members across America. The results pointed to a series of challenges boards face both in recognizing the need to be more connected to the community and also engaging in behaviors as a board that would make that connection more likely.


The Ripple Effect: How Change Spreads in Communities

There is a growing desire to figure out how communities can marshal their collective talents, assets and people to address tough challenges. But how does such change happen – and spread? What’s in play? And how can one be intentional in their efforts to help bring it about? This is what The Harwood Institute, with support from the Kettering Foundation, sought to answer.


Putting Community in Collective Impact

This article lays out five key characteristics of civic culture, explore why they matter, and how paying attention to them may be the difference between a collective impact effort getting stuck – even falling flat – or generating the kinds of results we seek. A collective impact approach holds enormous promise for bringing about meaningful change – but only if such action is taken with communities, not apart from them.


Community Rhythms: The Five Stages of Community Life

Why is it that some initiatives take off in one community but seem to fall flat when you try to replicate them in other places? The five stages of community life help explain why some communities move faster and others slower when it comes to change.


The Engagement Path

What does engagement look like when it works well? “The Engagement Path” is a report from The Harwood Institute that pulls together years of experience in working with communities to detail the way people handle on issues over time in a constructive, meaningful way.


Meaningful Chaos: How People Form Relationships with Public Concerns 

The formation of authentic public opinion requires confrontation with political realities and open discussion. This report presents findings of a study that sought to describe the nature of the process through which citizens learn about public concerns and engage in them. The report argues that the seemingly chaotic process of forming opinions is actually one composed of meaningful patterns and principles.

Get Started in Turning Outward

You don't need to be trained in our approach or an expert to use these tools to get on an alternate path.



When we talk with others about our aspirations we improve the chances that we can find some common ground to come together and get things done. Use this Harwood in a Half Hour on your own and then try it in a group setting – we have an Aspirations Facilitators Guide to help in leading the conversation!


Turn Outward

Turning Outward makes the community and the people the reference point for getting things done. Are you mostly turned inward or outward? Use the quiz to find out…



When we become more intentional about the choices we do make we can have far greater impact. After completing this Harwood in a Half Hour take another look at intentionality with this personal essay by Rich Harwood.

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Sustaining Yourself

Getting people across the community to work together takes a great deal of personal commitment and energy. It’s important to make sure you keep your own “batteries charged” when you do this valuable and often difficult work.


The Funders Roadmap

If you work at a foundation or are a philanthropist, you want to use your money wisely. This tool will help you better factor in the communities where you are trying to help people and solve problems to get bigger impact. 


The Board Engagement Roadmap

Use this simple tool by yourself, with your staff, or with your board to help figure out simple ways to get everyone focused beyond the bottom line.


Your Board Engagement Checklist

Use this checklist to help engage your Board in Turning Outward


Building a Turned Outward Organizational Culture

Use this tool to identify ways to build a more Turned Outward organizational culture. 


Making More Strategic Investments

These questions and steps should be used to guide your decisions, whether you think you need to start with small changes or feel you are ready to “go big.”  


Turning Outward to Engage Donors

Build stronger relationships with potential donors. Use the scale on the first page to rate yourself against the five steps on the following pages


Making it Real: How to Make Civic Engagement a Public Sensibility 

Use this workbook to go through seven different ways that you can infuse civic engagement practices throughout your public work