RCLA Reports




Taking Back the Work

Taking Back the Work: A Cooperative Inquiry into Leaders of Color in Movement-Building Organizations
By Angie Chan and Linda Powell Pruitt with Will Allen, Joyce Johnson, Ricardo Martinez, Reggie Moore, Richard Moore, Ai-Jen Poo, and Cidra Sebastien, June 2009

Leaders of color recognized for their exemplary social justice efforts asked: How do we build, strengthen and sustain movement-building organizations led by people of color? Together they generated four strategies for community-based leaders of color to maintain the integrity of their work and remain accountable to communities, develop supportive relationships, deepen their understanding of race and educate others, and nurture new leaders.
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Time for ChangeTime for Change: 
A Toolkit for Transformation

By Theresa Holden and Meredith Herr
with Bob Fulkerson, LuAnn Leonard, Roger Sherman, and Loris Taylor, 2008

A group of seasoned social change leaders from across the US engaged in a process of action and reflection together to uncover pathways to personal and social transformation. The final report includes these discoveries, as well as a toolkit filled with research-based methods to help leaders strengthen relationships and create new knowledge based on experience.
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Arts, Creative Practice & LeadershipArts, Creative Practice and Leadership
By Elizabeth Canner, Kathie deNobriga, Timothea Howard, Annie Lanzilloto, Pam McMichael, Cara Page, Doug Paterson, Elizabeth Kasl, 2008

This report details the experience and findings of a group of nonprofit leaders who together explored the question: "How can I claim my own power as an artist/cultural worker, and in that, help create more vital and respected space for artists and cultural workers in society in general and in the work for social change in specific?"
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Better TogetherBetter Together: Peer-Led Fundraising Workshops for Social Change
By Theresa Holden, John Arvizu, Suzanne Bring, Michele Johnson, Alice Kim, Kevin Lind, Sonia Ospina, and Beatrice Shelby, 2007

How do we raise money to develop sustainable social change organizations? This report proposes methods that can be used for training and supporting fundraisers. The model is based on the understanding that if the answer to an organization's challenges lies in doing work collectively in the community, the approach to fundraising should also be collective.
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Can the Arts Change the World?Can the Arts Change the World?

The Transformative Power of the Arts in Fostering and Sustaining Social Change
By Arnold Aprill, Elise Holliday, Fahari Jeffers, Nobuko Miyamoto, Abby Scher, Diana Spatz, Richard Townsell, Lily Yeh, Lyle Yorks, and Sandra Hayes, 2006

A group of nonprofit leaders working in the arts, advocacy, political organizing, social services, and education explored the connection between community organizing and creative expression by engaging in collective activities, including visiting various examples of community arts, and experimentation with their own practice. Through this process, the group concluded that arts could be socially transformative; that community arts can create a safe space that allows people to trust and be open to changing; that art can help people reflect together and not talk past one another, and that the process of creating together can be healing and sustaining.

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Don't Just Do SomethingDon't Just Do Something, Sit There:

Helping Others Become More Strategic, Conceptual, and Creative
By Victoria Kovari Reverend Tyrone Hicks, Larry Ferlazzo, Craig McGarvey, Mary Ochs, Lucia Alcántara, and Lyle Yorks, 2005

How can we be more effective in helping others become more strategic, conceptual, and creative in their thinking? This group was motivated by the realization that as organizers, they could teach organizing, but were not good at getting people to think strategically. Doing cooperative inquiry gave them a space to challenge each other's assumptions about organizing, ask provocative questions and learn from one another about ways to engage others in the experience of strategic thinking.

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Dance that Creates EqualsA Dance That Creates Equals: 
Unpacking Leadership Development
By Denise Altvater, Bethany Godsoe, LaDon James, Barbara Miller, Sonia Ospina, Tyletha Samuels, Cassandra Shaylor, Lateefah Simon, and Mark Valdez, 2005

A group of social change leaders asked, "How can we create the space/opportunities for individuals to recognize themselves as leaders and develop leadership?" Through Cooperative Inquiry the group began to view leadership development as a shift in the leadership relationship: someone steps back and someone steps up, like a dance. This dance expands the space for shared leadership and something new emerges. Once people claim the space, they see themselves differently and accept the authority to influence others. Stepping back requires an appreciation of the other's potential as well as the responsibility to support others to claim that space as their own. Having the choice to step back implies that power is present in the leadership relationship. However, the dance is not about granting power; it is about recognizing the power that people already have.
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Building AlliancesETHNOGRAPHY 
Building Alliances
Collaboration between CAUSA and the Rural Organizing Project in Oregon
By Lynn Stephen, Jan Lanier, Ramon Ramirez, and Marcy Westerling, 2006

This ethnography examines the components that allow quality solidarity work to happen between organizations with leadership and constituencies that are primarily people of color and primarily white, respectively. CAUSA (an immigrant rights coalition) and the Rural Organizing Project (ROP) of Oregon have developed a working relationship over ten years that has contributed to numerous victories for immigrant and farm worker rights, as well as greater consciousness among white rural activists of what it means to provide support as anti-racist allies. Because Oregon has a relatively small population and progressive organizations tend to know each other, the relationship provides an opportunity to study how such organizations manage power and historical inequalities and build collaborative capacity to mobilize quickly to support each other.
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Formacion de AlianzasFormacion de alianzas: Colaboracion entre CAUSA y Rural Organizing Project (ROP) en Oregon
By Lynn Stephen, Jan Lanier, Ramon Ramirez, and Marcy Westerling, 2006

This report is a Spanish translation of the Building Alliances ethnography.

» Download the report in Spanish


Piecing Together the FragmentsPiecing Together the Fragments: 
An Ethnography of Leadership for Social Change in North Central Philadelphia 2004-2005
By Mary Hufford and Rosina Miller, 2006

A collaborative community planning process entitled 'Shared Prosperity' in North Philadelphia engages neighborhood residents, business owners, community groups, and other organizations in revitalizing North Central Philadelphia by recognizing and strengthening the community's existing assets and leadership. This ethnography explores the ways in which the resident-driven steering committee built community around the work of mentoring local university student planners and volunteers, reclaiming and beautifying neighborhood spaces, utilizing volunteers to survey the community, retrieving memories of community elders, and reinhabiting the public space of the streets. In this model, economic revitalization grows out of the revitalized life of the community, which leverages recognition and support from the larger polities of metropolis and state.

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Uniendo los fragmentosUniendo los fragmentos: 
Liderazgo para el cambio social en el area norcentral de Filadelfia, 2004-2005
By Mary Hufford and Rosina Miller, 2006

This report is a Spanish translation of Piecing Together the Fragments. 

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Until All of Us Are HomeUntil All of Us Are Home: The Process of Leadership at Project H.O.M.E. 
By Kathleen Hall, 2006

Project H.O.M.E.'s co-founders and members of the community explore the emergence of leadership through struggle in the fight to end homelessness in Philadelphia. It has been within struggles for recovery, family unification, fair housing, equality, human dignity, and cohesion in diversity that leaders have arisen and flourished at every level of the organization. This ethnographic study documents the organization's history of leadership through struggle. Having looked back across time, the co-researchers gathered oral history interviews and documentary photographs to chronicle the stories of those who have shared in the struggles, the challenges, and the ultimate success of Project H.O.M.E. 

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Hasta que todos tengamos techoHasta que todos tengamos techo: El proceso liderazgo en el Proyecto H.O.M.E.
By Kathleen Hall, 2006

This report is a Spanish translation of the report, Until All of Us Are Home

» Download the report in Spanish



Transforming Lives, Changing CommunitiesTransforming Lives, Changing Communities: 
How Social Justice Organizations Build and Use Power
By Joan Minieri, Erica Foldy, Amparo Hofmann-Pinilla, Jennifer Dodge, Marian Krauskopf and Sonia Ospina, 2006

This publication uses stories to describe ways in which effective social justice organizations perceive power and build the power necessary to create change in their communities. Through the words of staff, leaders, and members, we explore key sources of power, including overcoming obstacles, recognizing everyone's value, establishing relationships, strengthening skills, cultivating values, forging alliances, and maintaining community control. The stories highlight different ways in which members of a community form relationships with one another, learn skills, and realize their own power, both personally and collectively. With a seat at the table, these organizations ultimately redefine who influences social policy on the issues that affect their communities.

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From Constituents to StakeholdersFrom Constituents to Stakeholders: Community-Based Approaches to Building Organizational Ownership and Providing Opportunities to Lead 
By Joan Minieri, Jennifer Dodge, Erica Foldy, Amparo Hofmann-Pinilla, Marian Krauskopf and Sonia Ospina, 2005

Many community-based organizations may seek to build the ownership of constituents - the people the organization serves, advocates for, or organizes. This document offers case examples of nonprofits that have given constituents the opportunities and skills to have a stake in their organizations. Engaging constituents as stakeholders keeps organizations responsive to community needs. Moreover, when those directly affected by the problems an organization addresses are invested in its success, they help it to remain vital and successful over time.

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