ActKnowledge and Aspen Institute’s guided example: Theory of change

Drawing on the experience ActKnowledge and Aspen Institute had in evaluating the "Super Woman" Program, this guided example shows how to develop an outcomes chain using the Theories of Change (TOC) process.

"Project Superwomen" is a program that started as a collaboration between a social service provider, a non-profit employment training center and a domestic violence shelter to help female abuse survivors to create long-term, livable wage employment opportunities for women who had been victims of domestic violence


"Before beginning the TOC process, participants think carefully about  (1) their ultimate goal for the initiative; (2) their goal for how they want to use their theory (e.g. internal decisionmaking, on-going check-in, evaluation, reporting to donors, presentations to Board  members, constituents and/or partners; (3) their resources and capabilities; (4) who should be at the table.   Any or all of these may change once the process begins, but its good to think about these things at the outset. "

(Actknowledge and Aspen Institute Roundtable on Community Change, 2004, p.3)


Specific methods mentioned are:  

  • Identifying goals and assumptions 
  • Backwards mapping and connecting outcomes 
  • Developing indicators 
  • Identifying interventions  
  • Writing a narrative 


Actknowledge and Aspen Institute Roundtable on Community Change (2004). Theory of Change: Project Superwoman. New York, NY: ActKnowledge and the Aspen Institute Roundtable on Community Change. Retrieved from