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Tool 5

Craft a Theory of Change

What is your vision for advancing equity?

A concise statement about the impact you want to achieve with your project, a Theory of Change sets a vision for future outcomes, even before defining how to get there.

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Download a PDF with Theory of Change instructions and tips.

Tool 5: Craft a Theory of Change


Many companies and nonprofits use the Theory of Change (ToC) methodology in their general planning, but our version focuses on equitable development. A good ToC will serve as a guiding star for your efforts to produce equitable impacts. These impacts, along with the ToC itself, should be derived from the outreach and research you have done with community members—what is most at stake for the communities you are working with and how can your work support with their goals? A ToC is also a reflection of the resources you have available to produce this change, and it may evolve over time. Download our ToC worksheet, which offers tips for connecting with all necessary stakeholders, and a question guide to use during these gatherings.

Developed by Urban Institute

Follow-Up Questions

As you develop a Theory of Change, ask:

  • How does our organization define equity, justice, and fairness?

  • How can our organization achieve equity, justice, and fairness for the neighborhoods surrounding our project?

  • Who is most affected by a lack of equity, and what are the core issues affecting those who lack equity?

  • How can or should we address these issues?

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