Community champions programs

Once your community has begun to grow it’s likely that you’re going to need help from community members in running local events, working groups, technical workshops or other “community champion” activities that support the overall success of the community. But where do you start when planning for these activities?

Champions and the CSCCE Community Participation Model

Community champions are emergent leaders – members of a community who wish to take on additional activities in support of the community. To learn more generally about why champions are necessary for community success, check out the CSCCE Community Participation Guide, and its companion guide, which describe the CHAMPION mode in detail. 

The CSCCE Community Participation Model: A framework to describe member engagement and information flow in STEM communities

by Lou Woodley and Katie Pratt

August 26, 2020

The CSCCE Community Participation Model describes four modes of member engagement that can occur within a community and one that can occur outside of it. This guidebook is intended to help you use the model to inform your community member engagement strategy.

The CSCCE Community Participation Model – Exploring the Champion mode


September 16, 2021

In this companion guidebook, part two, we focus in on the CHAMPION mode, in which emerging leaders within a community act in either informal or formal capacity to MAINTAIN, GROW, or EVOLVE the community.

Community champions programs

Community champions programs, in which participants may alternatively be referred to as ambassadors, fellows, or something else, are often the key to successfully empowering and supporting emergent leaders in a community. From 2021-2022, CSCCE convened a working group within our community of practice to explore champions programs, and as a result created a series of nine tip sheets to describe them through a series of stages. The first four tip sheets are available below, with the remaining five coming out in June. You can also find an overview of all nine stages in the champions guidebook linked above. 

Community champions programs tip sheet: Stage 1

by Lou Woodley, Katie Pratt, Camille Santistevan, Vanessa Fairhurst, Esther Plomp, and Iratxe Puebla

May 11, 2022

Making a case: Should you have a community champions program?

Community champions programs tip sheet: Stage 2

by Lou Woodley, Katie Pratt, Camille Santistevan, Anne Kornahrens, Emily Lescak, and Esther Plomp

May 11, 2022

Inclusive recruitment: How do you find your champions?

Community champions programs tip sheet: Stage 3

by Lou Woodley, Katie Pratt, Camille Santistevan, Vanessa Fairhurst, and Lindsay Starke

May 11, 2022

Participation requirements: What are your champions expected to do?

Community champions programs tip sheet: Stage 4

by Lou Woodley, Katie Pratt, Camille Santistevan, Emma Ganley, and Lindsay Starke

May 11, 2022

Onboarding: How will you welcome your champions into the program?

In 2017, the Advocacy Ninjas CEFP project team comprised of Stephanie O’Donnell, Heidi Olds, Allen Pope, Gabrielle Rabinowitz and Rosanna Volchok created a survey to better understand what champion programs (at the time, they referred to them as advocacy programs) look like within scientific communities.

They collected data from 37 scientific community managers who work at academic, non-profit, industry, and government sector organizations. They found, among other things: Older programs had the biggest budgets while newer programs offered more incentives for involvement; Program size, community size, and resources may be correlated; And some program characteristics hold similar across various budget sizes, while low budget programs tend to represent smaller communities with fewer internal resources.

For an overview of the project, watch this presentation from co-authors Rosanna Volchok and Allen Pope:

Download the full report:

Ambassadors, Champions, Fellows, and More: What defines success in scientific community Advocacy Programs?

by Rebecca Aicher, Melanie Binder, Heidi Laješić, Stephanie O’Donnell, Allen Pope, Gabrielle Rabinowitz, Rosanna Volchok, and Lou Woodley

September 18, 2020

This report presents data on the scope, characteristics and efficacy of ambassador programs in STEM, which was collected and analyzed by the CSCCE CEFP "Advocacy Ninjas" Project Team.

What motivates community champions or super-users?

The Busy Bees project team of the CEFP2019 cohort comprised of Toby Hodges, Naomi Penfold and Kathryne Woodle with support from Lou Woodley, created a survey to better understand the motivations of community super-users or ambassadors (which we now refer to as champions). You can learn more about the project from this presentation during the March 2020 community call.

Blog posts

Community champions working group / special interest group

Throughout 2021 and into 2022, CSCCE convened a working group within our community of practice to share knowledge and offer support. We hosted monthly meetings, sometimes including presentations from members, and several members of the working group co-created tip sheets with CSCCE staff (see above). The group has transitioned to become a special interest group, with any member of the CSCCE community of practice welcome to join the Slack channel and participate in regular Zoom chats. 

Additional CSCCE resources

Resources for reuse

CSCCE staff have produced various guidelines and how to guides to support community champions within the CSCCE community of practice. The following resources are licensed CC BY and are available for reuse with attribution. 


We offer consultancy for individuals and groups interested in, or already engaged in, running a community champions program (e.g., our work with NMDC, The Carpentries, and rOpenSci). We are also available to offer training in community management to champions cohorts (e.g., our work with eLife). If you are interested in finding out more, please visit our consultancy page, or reach out directly to