Reinventing Impact: The Collaboration Lab

Danville Regional Foundation
Dan River Region, NC and VA



Building on the successes of the Health Collaborative, Healthy Places by Design, with Danville Regional Foundation and the Tamarack Institute, co-created a 10-month leadership curriculum called “Reinventing Impact: The Collaboration Lab". This curriculum uses evidence from the field of collaboration, and is an investment in the power of people to activate, learn, and deepen their own capacity to solve the issues residents see as most important. The Collaboration Lab is designed to be a learning journey, customized to the unique needs of each person in the cohort and the changing environment. The first cohort of traditional and non-traditional leaders co-designed the content; a second cohort will participate in 2021/2022. Participants support each other to initiate a collaborative that addresses complex issues. The range of projects within the first cohort includes a literacy council, youth services taskforce, trauma and resilience network, food security network, entrepreneur ecosystem, transition supports, and a health collaborative. The curriculum emphasizes equity, planning, community engagement, shifting power, and systems change.


Our Support

Healthy Places by Design, Danville Regional Foundation, and Tamarack Institute developed and launched the first cohort of a Collaboration Lab. This 10-month “class” enabled 17 leaders in the Dan River Region to learn the processes of building and deepening a collaborative, as well as the skills and traits of being a collaborative leader.

Healthy Places by Design co-creates, co-designs, and co-facilitates the monthly Lab sessions, coaches participants between sessions to help support their collaborative work, advances equitable processes and content, and provides ongoing support to the Danville Regional Foundation.

Additional services provided included:

  • Planning and developing sessions that engage different learning styles and adult education techniques to support all learners;
  • Participating in and facilitating monthly Collaboration Lab sessions;
  • Sharing resources and techniques to foster collaboratives within and outside of the Collaboration Lab;
  • Developing new resources as needed to fit participants’ needs;
  • Creating and coordinating the planning committee’s timeline, tasks and deliverables to best meet the participants learning goals



“Collaboration is more about bringing together people who will co-create - and equally benefit from - authentic visions for addressing the shared concerns of the community. I want to continue to let people know that this should be a win-win. I don’t want people to feel like they are being used or you’re not giving up anything, but instead that there is structure and criteria you have to meet on both ends.” 


Learn more about this project on our blog:


Robert David on Collaboration versus Partnership

Robert David is a graduate of the inaugural Collaboration Lab, a joint effort between the Danville Regional Foundation and Healthy Places by Design to support collaborative leadership in the Dan River Region. Robert, the Youth and Gang Violence Prevention Coordinator for the city of Danville, shares how his collaborative approach to gang violence prevention extends beyond the usual agencies and youth and in order to be successful, he makes sure everyone can “feel the warmth of the sun” and win!

Read More