The Impact Project Canvas

Impact Project canvas

To help students create the impact they seek to make, I’ve developed a canvas to help them map out their ideas. We’ve found students need to be explicit about their vision so we can dive into assumptions and help find the next steps that will move a project forward.

Here’s how the canvas works:

Your North Star – Start by painting a picture of what the world would look like if your problem was fully solved. My north star vision is that every person is empowered to make the change they want to see in the world. I think plenty of people recognize problems, but do not feel empowered to solve them. To me, that’s a tragedy and I am dedicated to helping fix it.

Who is it for? – This is where you describe who you want to help. Remember this is just a starting point. Your answer cannot be “everyone.” You should start off super small and specific with a subset of people that need your help the most.

Examples – Post examples of the people you want to help. Write their names, show their faces. These are the people that need you.

Life Changers – Think about the people you want to help. What would it take for you to change their lives in a measurable way? It might one conversation. It might be a four year program to help students get into college. Knowing what you know about your users, how could you change their lives?

Expertise Needed – Since you can’t do this alone, you need to engage experts in the process. In this box, write about the kinds of people you would need to talk to in order to learn more about the problem you’re working on. These should be people with years of experience in the industry. A five minute conversation with the right expert can help more than ten hours of googling.

Experts Involved in Project – Write the names of the people you are currently engaging in your project. If there are no names in this box, then we need to do some work to find people.

Assumptions – These are all of the question marks that exist in your project. All the things you’re not yet sure about. Maybe you don’t know if your program should be ten weeks, or one year. Maybe you’re not sure if it should be for high school students or college students. Maybe you’re not sure if people even care enough to attend an event if you were to host one. These are all assumptions that you need to test.

Prototypes – In this box, describe the prototypes through which you will test the above assumptions. The point of a prototype is to learn. If you’re not sure if your program should be for high school students or college students, then run a one hour workshop for both groups and then reevaluate.


The bigger idea is that this canvas is a way to keep tabs on progress and help students get past road blocks. If the prototype box is empty, we know where we need to focus our energy. If the experts boxes are empty, we know that we need to help the student find professionals to talk to. This current draft is just a prototype. We will test it out this week and see if it works!