The challenges communities face today and in the future require a higher level of performance—a commitment to community performance excellence that grows out of the recognition that the social determinants of educational achievement, economic vitality, and health status are inextricably interwoven. A commitment among leaders across sectors and generations to take a systematic approach to community performance.

Such an approach exists for individual organizations — the Baldrige Principles of Performance Excellence — that the founders of Communities of Excellence 2026 have successfully used to improve the performance of organizations they have led. This proven, comprehensive and systematic approach can accelerate a community’s drive to improve quality of life for residents. Adaptation of the Baldrige Framework and Criteria for Performance Excellence to communities began with a team of experts in 2012. Since then the Communities of Excellence Framework and criteria have undergone multiple iterations based on feedback from community leaders, Baldrige experts and program staff, and engaged community partners.

The Communities of Excellence Framework includes a set of key questions for improving the performance of communities and the people who lead and live in them. Rather than prescribe how communities should structure their community leadership, shared initiatives or action plans, or what the mission, goals and measures should be, the framework asks you to make those decisions as a community with input from all key sectors and generations involved.

Our vision is that communities that participate in this learning collaborative will be national role models for community performance excellence through ongoing collaboration. These groups will become the catalyst in a movement to reshape the future of America’s communities.

Learning Collaborative Objectives

Year One 

  1. Build and engage your community excellence group.
  2. Develop your first Baldrige-based Community Profile and understand its relationship to the questions in the seven framework categories.
  3. Use the information in your Community Profile to identify the next steps towards your community of excellence journey.

Year Two 

  1. Analyze and improve your community excellence group leadership processes for effectiveness.
  2. Create a strategy and metrics that align with your Community Profile.
  3. Utilize your feedback report to build on key highlights and address key considerations for improvement (OFIs).

Year Three

  1. Align your Community Profile, your strategy and the other components of your community work.
  2. Utilize your feedback report to build on key strengths and address key opportunities for improvement (OFIs).
  3. Refine your community leadership system for sustainability.