A group of professionals stand in front of theory of change documentation

Nonprofit Strategic Learning Initiative

The Riley Institute’s Nonprofit Strategic Learning Initiative (NSLI) empowers organizations and professionals to reflect on, assess, demonstrate, and effectively communicate the impact of their programs.

How We Serve

NSLI serves organizations through three programming formats:Graphic reads "Nonprofit Strategic Learning Initiative. Discover. Reflect. Evolve." It contains multiple sprocket wheels each comprising a different phrases. Those phrases are "Individual consulting," "Impact Collaborative," and "Professional development."

Impact Collaborative: A group learning model that brings together organizations and programs with similar levels of strategic learning capacity to engage in a process of reflection, self-discovery, and skill-building. Through an iterative process of group workshops and individualized coaching, participants examine the assumptions behind one of their program’s designs and develop their ability to gather quality data and information to monitor program implementation, determine and communicate program impact, and better tailor the program to meet community need.

Individual consulting: An à la carte suite of services centered around organizational self-discovery and skill building, each designed to empower change-makers with strategies to reflect, learn from, and act on the knowledge they acquire every day in their work.

Professional development opportunities: A variety of in-person and virtual opportunities to acquire targeted knowledge and skills in strategic learning and connect with other professionals to share advice, experience, and resources, including educational and skill-building workshops and formal networking events and free, informal chats.

Meet Our Director of Nonprofit Strategic Learning


Sally Morris Cote, Ph.D.,
is the Riley Institute’s Director of Nonprofit Strategic Learning. In this role, she oversees the Institute’s work to empower organizations and professionals to reflect on, assess, demonstrate, and effectively communicate the impact of their programs. Dr. Morris Cote has more than a decade of experience in consulting on, designing, and implementing small and large-scale research, evaluation, and data projects—ranging from work with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Department of Health Care Environments to the evaluation of the United Way of Greenville County’s OnTrack Greenville initiative. She completed her Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she also received a M.A. in Sociology and a Certificate in Survey Methodology. Ever since designing and implementing her first research study in 2010, Morris Cote has been fascinated with the ability of thoughtful, methodological inquiry to inform nonprofit and public policy work and believes strategic learning can be a transformational opportunity for practitioners.

To learn more about building capacity for strategic learning, contact Dr. Morris Cote at sally.morriscote@furman.edu.

Client Spotlight

The Riley Institute directed three Greenville nonprofit organizations through a collaborative strategic learning initiative to uncover best practices for helping people navigate a path out of poverty.

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Dr. Sally Morris Cote sits in a meeting with NSLI clients

Strategic Learning Resources

Get access to a list of resources that have informed the Riley Institute’s thinking on and approach to strategic learning.

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