Change Academy case study: SightLife

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What can the Change Academy do for you?

Think of a metric that captures the impact of the work you do. If you’re focused on homelessness, it might be “the number of people placed in permanent housing” in a given period. Or, if you’re committed to improving prenatal care, you might focus on “the percentage of low birth-weight babies” in a certain region.

The Change Academy is a program designed to help you boost your performance on that metric. Dramatically.

This is not a ‘training program,’ though there is a lot of training involved. Rather, it’s a results program.

If you crave better results, and if you’re willing to rethink the way you work, then read on. We want to help you move a metric that matters.

What is the Change Academy?

The CASE Change Academy is a program hosted by Duke University’s Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE), one of the nation’s oldest and best-respected programs for social entrepreneurs. The program is led by Dan Heath, a senior fellow at CASE and the co-author of the New York Times bestsellers Made to Stick, Switch, and Decisive.

The Change Academy has a simple structure:

Who attends: One organization, which brings a team of 6- 20 people. Depending on the circumstances, your team might include partners or other external constituents.
Where: Durham, NC
How long: The meeting lasts 1.5 days. We believe great things can happen on a short timeline.
Why: To move a metric that matters.




Who is the program designed to help?

The Academy is for leaders in the social sector who want to improve dramatically the effectiveness of their work. We are interested in working with nonprofits, B corps, and for-profit social ventures. Other types of organizations (corporations, government agencies, churches) should contact us to see if there’s a fit.

What kinds of “metrics” can the Change Academy help me with?

Here’s what we’re looking for:

  1. The metric must relate to work that you’re already doing. You must already have “baseline” data. For us to help you “move the needle” on your metric, we need to know where the needle is today. Because of this requirement, The Academy is not well-suited for startup ventures or for startup projects within existing organizations, since there is no ‘track record’ yet.
  2. It should be a service metric, not an internal/functional metric. In other words, “number of vaccinations” would be a great metric for the Academy, but not “server uptime percentage” or “dollars raised per direct mail promotion.”

Here are examples of the kinds of metrics that would fit well with the program:

  • Number of microloans made to female entrepreneurs
  • Percentage of infants who received the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine on the recommended schedule
  • Number of people successfully placed into a full-time job
  • Decline in absenteeism among targeted students (assuming a year-round schedule, since the Academy extends into the summer)





How do we decide who is ‘admitted’?

In the past, we had a formal application process. We have discontinued that in favor of a more opportunistic approach. We want to fit the program to your timeline, not vice versa. So if you’re interested, just fill out the form at the top of the page, and we’ll get in touch with you to learn more. We are very selective — traditionally, fewer than 25% of applicants have been accepted – because we want to have the greatest possible impact with the limited number of sessions we can run each year.

What does it cost?

The Change Academy is free (other than your travel costs, of course), but we do ask something of you. At CASE, we offer this program as a service to the social sector, and we ask that you “pay it forward” in some way. That might mean offering your organization up for a case study, taking on a student intern, speaking at a conference, making a donation to CASE, or perhaps something else entirely. We will work with you on this; our intent is simply to avoid making cost a deterrent to positive social change.

Who has been part of the Change Academy in past years?

Past participants in various iterations of the Change Academy include these organizations:


Here’s what some of the participants said about the experience:

“This experience, next to graduate school (which I pull from daily), has been the single-largest influencer, catalyst, and resource in my career as an Executive Director to date.”
–Kathryn Jacob, ED, Housing Crisis Center

“This is a special time—a life-changer!”
–Karen Mathison, CEO, United Way of Greater Toledo

“AMAZING learning and development experience! Great practice, feedback, tools, opportunities, and interactions with like-minded, ambitious people.”
–Amanda Bikowski, teacher and member of the Teach For America team.

Testimonials for the Change Academy

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Other questions?

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