Coaching for Change

What if there was no interpersonal violence, like bullying, teen dating violence and domestic and sexual violence?

Photo of Donna McDonald McDonald
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Founding Story: Share a story about a key experience or spark that helps the network understand why this project got started or a story about how you became inspired about the potential for this project to succeed.

In 2008 our Domestic Violence Council initiated the Coaching Boys into Men project,a national project providing valuable information and materials. While it helped, we found that coaches (target population) had rarely talked to other men or women, much less their youth about interpersonal violence. Most coaches were open to learning more about these issues, but needed more information to develop a comfort level in addressing interpersonal violence and gender equity with their youth.

Which categories describe you? (the answer will not be public)

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French, Caucasian)


Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • Minnesota

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]

Anoka, MN

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [State]

  • Minnesota

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [City]

Our Coaching for Change on-line course for high school coaches is currently a required course by the Minnesota High School League for all high school coaches in the State of Minnesota (estimated 25,000) and other states as well with a user agreement. Our Coaching for Change course for community coaches of girls and boys ages 10 -14 is available to the public.

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Our culture provides too many negative images of relationships and gender violence. The on-line courses we developed counteract these messages through the sports platform. Sports are in every city and coaches are respected role models. Athletes are often looked up to by their peers. Our courses educate on the scope of the problem, the prevailing culture, teachable moments and resources for high school coaches and community coaches of youth.

What if our children could live in an environment with no interpersonal violence?

Some may say sports is violent and supports the cultural messages our children get of violence and gender inequity.  We have chosen to harness the influential sports platform to make a difference for youth in how they interpret the mixed messages in our culture.  Building on many of the character development aspects of coaching, our on-line courses, Coaching for Change, provide coaches of boys and girls athletics the information and skills necessary to understand the prevalence of interpersonal violence and explores the social norms and messaging which contribute to this environment of harm.  The course also illustrates courageous conversations and teaching moments coaches can utilize to positively influence both boys and girls to create a team environment which supports gender equity and respect. In turn, these youth can become leaders to their peers in respectful relationships and attitudes.  Coaches are also provided resources so that, if they should encounter a youth needing more help, they are comfortable with the process and the resources to get that youth help.

Course are available for boys and girls high school coaches as well as community coaches for girls and boys ages 10 - 14. 

These courses are available free of charge and are most effective when they are part of a school or organization's required learning, as our state high school league has done.  We can also make use agreements with individual community athletics organizations or regional networks who are interested in incorporating the training into their organizational practices and posting it on their websites.

As our youth watch and learn about responsible attitudes and behaviors in adults, they can incorporate these same principles into their everyday lives.


Is your model focused on any of the following traditionally underserved communities?

  • No, not explicitly

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Other

If you chose "other," please share the sector you work within here:

Courses are available to coaches but also are a valuable tool for any person working with youth.

Year Founded


Project Stage

  • Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)

Example: Walk the network through a specific example of what happens when a person or group engages with your solution.

Coaches comments on evaluations: -A valuable experience worth taking and information worth knowing. If this course helps one coach protect one kid from abuse or committing an abusing behavior upon someone it truly is a success. -This was overall a positive experience on an incredibly important topic. I hope that this helps bring a change to what has been socialized as normal in our society. -I thought this course was excellent and so timely. I had to deal with three issues in this area the past month. -It highlighted many issues that are prevalent in our communities which some coaches may not be aware of. It encouraged coaches to be proactive about them - it illuminated the power of the coach. -MUST DO THIS TRAINING WITH ALL COACHES.

Impact: What was the impact of your work last year? Please also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Beta test results -100% of coaches were aware or very aware of the prevalence of these issues at the conclusion of taking this course, an increase of 51%. -Understanding cultural "norms" and negative reinforcements, 90% of the participants moved to aware or very aware, a 49% increase at the end of the course. -A common reaction to discussions about these issues is “that doesn’t happen here” ; 12% of coaches moved to agree/strongly agree for a total of 95%, recognizing this could happen in their school or community. -Coaches moved from 39% agree/strongly agree to 83%, an increase of 54% when asked if they would recognize key indicators of these issues. -The most important question is will coaches see theses issues as part of the role they can play and act on it. Coachers moved from 71% to 93% in seeing this as a very important part of their responsibilities.

Organization Type

  • government

Annual Budget

  • less than $1k

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is your solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Courses are available free of charge. Funding is needed to support the server/course maintenance and resources to promote the community level course, both in MN and other states. We also have subsequent learning on policy development to ensure gender equity to promote. At the community coaches level, there is very little funding available. In-kind resources from developers is only support at this time.

Unique Value Proposition: How else is this problem being addressed? Are there other organizations working in the same field, and how does your project differ from these other approaches?

Our project is unique in that it focuses on the topics in depth that may only be touched upon in other character development strategies. We also were one of the first (through the benefit of Futures Without Violence work to lead the way) to develop an on-line course on these particularly difficult issues to discuss. The course is free at this time, which is also unique. Finally, as mentioned previously, this course is applicable to anyone who works with youth. While many of the examples are sports-oriented, a participant can easily change the context to their own experience.

Reflect on the Field and its Future: Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s wellbeing?

Creating an environment free of interpersonal violence is the goal of many across the spectrum of fields. Joe Ehrmann, Futures Without Violence, and Positive Coaching Alliance are moving this work forward in the sports arena. Because sports plays such a large role in our culture and, because more often than we wish, some of the most egregious examples of interpersonal violence happen in the sports world, it is imperative that we use this power to influence healthy relationships with our youth in a world with conflicting messages about what it means to be a woman or a man in today's world.

Source: How did you hear about the Children’s Wellbeing Challenge? (the answer will not be public)

  • Email

Evaluation results

4 evaluations so far

1. Relevance: Does this project seem to help children (ages 0 to 12 years) develop a strong sense of self, belonging, and purpose?

5 - Yes, this is great! The project lays out a strong, compelling case for how its model nurtures children’s wellbeing. - 0%

4 - It seems like a good fit, and the model talks explicitly about children’s wellbeing. - 50%

3 - I think so. The project seems related to children’s wellbeing, but the logic is vague. - 0%

2 - Not sure. The project doesn’t have much to do with wellbeing, or it doesn’t give enough information. - 25%

1 - Nope, this project definitely doesn’t fit the challenge brief (e.g., It doesn’t help kids younger than 12, isn’t in the U.S., etc.) - 25%

2. Innovation: Does this project tackle children’s wellbeing from a new angle?

5 - I loved this! The project describes a novel model that addresses important cultural or systemic barriers. - 0%

4 - This is pretty cool. The project is addressing an important problem in a new or compelling way. - 50%

3 - I feel like there’s something there, but I want more details about what makes it distinctive. - 25%

2 - It’s a good project, but I’ve seen others like it before. - 0%

1 - It was confusing or hard to tell what it made it different. - 25%

3. Social Impact: What is this project’s potential for creating positive social impact?

5 - Lots of potential. This project is achieving impressive results, and it’s growing quickly. It could absolutely inspire changes in the ways we approach caring for kids nationally, across sectors (e.g. childcare, healthcare, education). - 25%

4 - Pretty good potential. This project demonstrates significant positive impact so far, and it could scale regionally or nationally one day and fundamentally change how a system operates (e.g. childcare, healthcare, education). - 25%

3 - Budding potential. This project is creating local impact, but it would take a few adjustments before it could scale. - 0%

2 - Some potential. This project demonstrates some initial positive impact, but it would require major changes before it could scale. - 25%

1 - Limited potential. This project has great intentions, but it looks like it does not include key drivers of a shift towards children’s wellbeing. - 25%

4. Overall, how do you feel about this idea?

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 0%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 50%

3 - I think the idea is great, but it needs some work before it moves onto the next round. - 0%

2 - I liked it fine but preferred others. - 25%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. Needs significant revisions. - 25%

5. Offer some feedback. Where should this participant spend some time revising?

DEFINING THE PROBLEM. Make sure to articulate the root causes or main barriers of the social issue your project addresses. (Founding Story, Problem, Solution). - 100%

CLARITY OF MODEL. Make sure to mention (a.) the beneficiary, b) the main activities, and c) how those activities drive social impact. Keep it streamlined! - 66.7%

MARKETPLACE. Make sure to research other players in this space and articulate how this project is different. I didn’t get a complete sense of how this project compares to others. - 33.3%

IMPACT POTENTIAL. Make sure to use specific numbers to describe what your project has achieved so far! And consider how you might scale the model or its insights, through partnerships, trainings, or franchising. - 66.7%

WRITING STYLE. Try to stay concise and make it vivid. Avoid jargon. - 0%

Nothing stands out! I thought it was great. - 33.3%


Join the conversation:

Photo of lucia

I think that this is a really good idea. I have played sports almost all of my life now and every once in awhile you hear about this one coach who really messed up and unfortunately for some of the kids on that team might not want to play again because of what had happened. I know where I play hockey all of the coaches have to go through a course called Safe Sport and all the athletes also have to be educated in it so they know what to look for in a coach. I think that this is a good idea and I hope you keep with your idea, it could help a lot of people!

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