Capacity Building for Social Innovation: A Collective Impact Approach


  • Ellen Szarleta Indiana University Northwest



collective social entrepreneurship, convener, wicked problem


Business, nonprofit, and government institutions generally agree that a vibrant economy is critical to addressing the multi-faceted, complex issues faced by urban communities. Yet, despite significant targeted efforts aimed at revitalizing economic activity over the past few decades, the state of many communities remains unchanged. A collective social entrepreneurship model, focused on building social entrepreneurial capital networks is proposed as a complement to more traditional models focused on building individual capacity for social entrepreneurship. This article contends that one way universities can play a role in building social entrepreneurial networks is by serving as conveners. The lessons learned from a university-community initiative suggests that a collective impact framework and university leadership in a convening role, can support and inform the use of the social entrepreneurship approach to more effectively address issues of economic vitality.

Author Biography

Ellen Szarleta, Indiana University Northwest

Ellen Szarleta is the Director of the Center for Urban and Regional Excellence and Professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University Northwest. Her research is focused in the areas of civic engagement, community-university partnerships, public sector decision-making processes, and sustainability.

Ellen Szarleta
Center for Urban and Regional Excellence
School of Public and Environmental Affairs
Indiana University Northwest
3400 Broadway
MP 2117
Gary, Indiana 46408
Telephone: 219-980-6698


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