e-mail: appleman@earthlink.net


Please contact the author before quoting from or citing this paper


We offer thanks and appreciation to the organizers and leaders who took time away from their work to be interviewed for this study. Their efforts to make social change continue to be a source of inspiration. We also offer thanks to our colleagues who shared their insightful views with us. Thanks too, go to Sue Chinn, Director of the Discount Foundation, for her support and patience throughout the project. We acknowledge Infofind Research for finding and compiling many of the resources used, and Barbara Lundberg, for her editing comments throughout the study. We could not have completed this project without their technical support and assistance. Finally, we acknowledge the substantial contribution of Marshall Ganz, whose insights, experience, analytical skill, and guidance of this project were invaluable.

The contents and conclusions of the study are my own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Discount foundation.



Institution-Based Networks: Similarities and differences between PICO, IAF and Gamaliel

Purpose and Method of Evaluation

Applying the Method of Analysis



The Discount Foundation has received a substantial return on its investment of $575,000 in 25 institution-based organizations and networks over the last eight years. Discount grantees employing this approach have achieved the following results, among others:

For the purposes of this study, institution-based organizations are defined as those which espouse common themes: these organizations develop civic leaders who change the power equation in their communities, and "reweave the social fabric of their communities." (Cortes, 1993).They engage in building relationships and a sense of community before they address issues. Through collective action, they engage low- and moderate-income people in negotiating directly with decision-makers for concrete improvements and policy changes. They also develop highly skilled leaders and organizers, foster long-term institutional development, particularly among their institutional members, and utilize relationship-building techniques centered on values, self-interest, and reciprocal power. (Jewish Fund for Justice, 1995). The Catholic Campaign for Human Development's recent evaluation of its grantees suggests that organizations using the institution-based organizing approach are growing faster than those using other approaches.

The five institution-based grantees evaluated in this study were:

We utilized Discount's grantmaking criteria as the framework for assessing the strengths, limitations, and future potential of this organizing approach for empowering poor people to make meaningful change in urban communities. The criteria are:

1. Winning concrete improvements and policy changes through collective action;

2. Permanently altering the relations of power at the local, state or national level;

3. Developing citizen leaders in poor, urban communities of color;

4. Increasing civic participation at local, state and national levels; and

5. Building stable and financially viable organizations, accountable to the communities in which they are located.

Based on this framework, we have drawn the following conclusions about the five grantees and the institution-based organizing approach:

1. They win concrete improvements and policy changes for low- and moderate-income people, predominantly people of color, that improve the quality of life for their communities. The grantees employ two main strategies to achieve their goals: utilizing the framework of government (creating new laws and enforcing existing ones, including an executive order); and capitalizing on local political dynamics, such as heated electoral races involving their targets and the future designs of local politicians. These methods and results are strengths which lead to future accomplishments. As these organizations take on more corporate targets, as some are contemplating, we expect them to develop comparable strategic methods for influencing those targets. Securing Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) agreements is one example of influencing the corporate sector as illustrated by MICAH. We also observed that three of the five grantees promoted pro-active policy agendas.

2. They alter the relations of power at the most basic level of influencing resource allocation through the ability to reward and punish powerful decision-makers such as public officials and CEOs (targets). This is the first of three levels of power, utilizing the paradigm developed by S. Lukes and J. Gaventa which we employed in this study. Organizations at the second level of power can set agendas and frame issues by becoming party to resource allocation decisions. Organizations at the third level of power can initiate the reconceptualization of resource allocation and shape how people think about their community.

The five grantees also shifted the debate about issues at the local level. By entering into informal "contractual" relationships with targets, based on negotiating around mutual self-interests, the organizations access more powerful targets and build on past victories.

One limitation we found was that fewer organizations altered power relations at the second level-- becoming party to future resource allocation. However, those groups who achieved this level of power alteration changed the process of resource allocation and the players involved, and promoted pro-active policy agendas on their issues. CCOP created a new decision-making body with officials and its leaders, which is convened and led by the group's leaders. BUILD negotiated the restructuring of a select resource allocation process. MICAH influenced hiring practices of companies with city contracts. And EHPC impacted a state assemblyman race. Shifting the debate about the issues, and achieving maximum recognition by press, public officials, and allies, were central to their success. The third and highest level of power, reconceptualizing resource allocation and how a community thinks about itself, largely eluded these organizations. However, BUILD reached the third level of power to some degree. Reaching the third level is more of a challenge than a limitation, and a result of the current political, economic and social context.

A second limitation and challenge worth noting is that grantees address issues primarily at a city-wide level, rather than state-wide or regional levels. This is a limitation in light of a new economic and political climate. Corporate headquarters have moved out of state, both federal and state dollars have dwindled, and state officials have greater decision-making power over resource allocation. However, the grantees are increasingly focused on expanding their influence to state-wide and regional levels. Two examples from the Gamaliel network are: the intentional creation of a regional federation, NWFED, comprised of three city-wide organizations; and a state-wide federation comprised of affiliates in Minnesota. Within IAF, examples include Metro IAF launching a regional voter mobilization strategy and further expanding its base to include parent, worker, and immigrant constituencies. Also, IAF affiliates in Texas and Maryland have tackled state-wide issues and targets. PICO's statewide impact on education in California, and on drugs and crime in Louisiana, are other hopeful signs. In addition to larger scale organizing and impact, the future potential to alter power at higher levels also lies in becoming party to future resource allocation and promoting pro-active policy agendas.

3. They recruit, train and develop strong citizen leaders. These organizations satisfied every aspect of this criterion. Additionally, nearly all colleagues interviewed articulated leadership development as a unique strength of this approach, particularly in relation to other organizing approaches.

The following five aspects of developing leaders contributes to the organizations' ability to achieve other criteria and to attain long-term involvement of leaders:

One limitation of the relational, participatory, and deliberative processes of this approach is the length of time involved in implementing them. This may prevent timely response to issue opportunities. A second limitation noted by some colleagues and a veteran leader was the absence of sufficient advanced strategy training for seasoned leaders, and opportunities for leaders to meet across regions.

4. They increase civic participation at the local level. Our findings were inconclusive on this criterion. We lacked sufficient information to make the same level of evaluation of this one as we did on the other four. Nonetheless, we gleaned sufficient data to assert that the organizations have met the most basic aspect of the criterion of engaging large numbers of previously uninvolved people in substantial ways and in a variety of roles. One strength which bodes well for future success is the organizations' ability to engage more than a thousand people in each organization in campaigns of collective action, primarily in public accountability sessions with targets. This enhances the organizations' opportunities to leverage more resources and policy changes, and to build relationships with more powerful targets. A second strength is their ability to link issues mobilization with non-partisan voter turnout in key elections. A limitation and challenge lies in the organizers' absence of knowledge about their leaders' role in the broader community, outside the context of the organization. Moreover, they did not encourage it.

5. They build stable and financially viable organizations, accountable to the communities in which they are located. The five grantees met most, though not all, aspects of this criterion.

The strengths of having its membership base in community institutions, particularly congregations, include:

Other aspects of the organizations' stability, financial viability and accountability include:

We also observed notable limitations and challenges in the five grantees regarding this fifth criterion. They include: the lack of mechanisms for unaffiliated people to join (with increasing exceptions, especially in PICO groups) and the absence of youth. Youth bring a level of vitality and challenge that helps reinvigorate organizations over time. The absence of young people's participation could result in stagnation. Other limitations include a small percentage of the organizations' budgets comprised of member dues bases, and reliance on foundation funding. These are problematic for two reasons: first, the organizers, not leaders, are raising 50% or more of the organizations' income. This was the case in four of five grantees we studied. Second, reliance on foundation funding is risky given the shrinking dollars available for organizing. Finally, selecting rather than formerly electing, governance bodies, and the absence of set terms (in 3 of the 5 groups we studied), is inconsistent with the level of accountability that permeates this organizing approach.

Despite these limitations, the future for this approach is promising given the longevity of organizations we studied; three of the five have been in operation between 8 and 19 years. The track records of institution-based networks on sustaining organizers, leaders, and organizations, a critical ingredient in achieving organizational stability, also indicates the long-term stability of these institution-based organizations.

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The organizations in this study are supported by three national networks: IAF (Industrial Areas Foundation), PICO (Pacific Institute for Community Organizing), and Gamaliel. The IAF was started in 1940 by Saul Alinsky. It has the largest and broadest geographic reach, with 59 staffed affiliates in 53 cities in 21 states. PICO, which began in 1984 (when it transitioned from a neighborhood-based to a congregatino-based network), has 29 affiliates in 60 cities located in 10 states. Gamaliel, which began in 1986, has 26 staffed affiliates (and 10 unstaffed), located in 28 cities in 11 states. It is helpful to compare their network structures, organizers, growth rate/longevity, and training. Following that, we look at specific similarities and differences.

Network structures: IAF's nine regional supervisors, whose primary responsibility is supervising and developing organizers, have the most experience organizing in this approach, ranging from 15-28 years. While the senior staff/consulting directors in the Gamaliel and PICO networks typically have many years of experience in other organizing models, most do not have as many as IAF's supervisors using this approach. Nonetheless, both Gamaliel's director and another senior staff member, and PICO's director have close to 25 years employing this approach in some form. Despite fewer years employing the approach, PICO and Gamaliel have exhibited rapid growth and sustained organizations and organizers.


Growth rate and longevity of organizations: PICO is building new organizations at the fastest rate; 72% of its affiliates are less than six years old. Gamaliel and IAF also continue to expand. 61% of Gamaliel's affiliates and 59% of IAF's affiliates fall into that category. Though its difficult to reach conclusions regarding the longevity factor because the vast age difference between the three networks, it should be noted that 37% of IAF's affiliates have been in operation between 7 and 15 years.

Training: All three networks employ a similar training methodology, which was originally developed by IAF. PICO and Gamaliel offer week-long leadership trainings, and IAF offers 10-day trainings, as well as a five day training in some regions. All three networks train leaders in the following topics: turning problems into winnable issues, conducting one-on-one's, turnout, agitation, self-interest, power analysis, leadership qualities, meeting facilitation, media, fundraising, building teams of leaders in each member institution, research, and public/private relationships. IAF also offers additional sessions on the following topics: dominant culture vs. relational culture; values; issues such as charter schools, the labor movement, Nehemiah housing; and race and organizing. Some of these topics shift over time. Though all three networks were commended for their trainings, many of our colleagues opined, and we agree, that IAF's 10-day training is the most comprehensive.

Because we have not attended each of the trainings sponsored by the three networks, we cannot evaluate or make judgments about them based on first-hand observations. But nearly everyone interviewed for this study who commented on leadership training as a strength of this approach and the high level of training for leaders and organizers, also asserted that the institution-based networks provide more sophisticated training than networks employing other organizing approaches.

Although more time was spent analyzing the five grantees than on the three networks, we secured sufficient data to make the following assertions regarding similarities and differences among them.

Similarities among the three networks include:

Differences among the three networks include:

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Purpose and Method of Evaluation


The goal of the Discount's Urban Empowerment grantmaking program is to empower the poor and achieve meaningful change in urban communities of color. Toward achieving that goal, it has awarded $575,000 to 25 institution-based grantees between 1988 and 1996. This represents approximately 22% of its overall grantmaking budget for that period. Because this approach has captured a large portion of funding, the Foundation commissioned an independent review of the strengths, limitations, and future potential of the institution-based organizing approach. This evaluation summarizes the strengths, limitations and future potential of the institution-based approach and provides a summary of differences and similarities between the Gamaliel, PICO and IAF networks. We studied these three networks because they are the largest institution-based networks who encompass the geographic area within which Discount awards grants. Other institution-based networks include Direct Action and Research Training Center (DART), based in Florida; and Organizing and Leadership Training Center (OLTC), based in Boston. In addition, this evaluation provides a comparison of institution-based and ACORN's approaches on select topics. Most important, this study makes recommendations regarding the future funding of the institution-based approach.


The primary method employed in this study was the scrutiny of five of Discount's 25 institution-based grantees, each of whom received at least two grants over the last four years. The hard data from these five grantees reflect a solid basis for drawing conclusions about the approach itself. Also influencing the conclusions were observations of 60 organizers, funders, and other observers, and a review of recent literature on this organizing approach.

For purposes of this study, "institution-based" organizations are defined as those which espouse common themes: these organizations develop citizen leaders who change the power equation in their communities, and "reweave the social fabric of their communities" (Cortes, 1993). They engage in building relationships and a sense of community before they address issues. Through collective action, they engage low- and moderate-income people in negotiating directly with decision-makers for concrete improvements and policy changes. They also develop highly skilled leaders and organizers, foster long-term institutional development, particularly of its member institutions, and utilize relationship-building techniques centered on values, self-interest and reciprocal power. (Jewish Fund for Justice 1995 Annual Report). The Catholic Campaign for Human Development's recent evaluation study of its grantees suggests that organizations using the institution-based approach are growing faster than those using other approaches.

The data used in the study were gathered and analyzed from July-October, 1996, and derived from the following:

A. An in-depth analysis of the Discount Foundation's records of five institution-based grantees;

B. The development and application of the method of analysis (Appendices A and E) as an evaluation tool on the basis of Discount's five funding criteria:

C. An analysis of the records of Discount's other institution-based grantees; in-person and/or phone interviews with an organizer and a leader from each of the five grantees; and two or three follow-up conversations with each organizer.

D. A written survey completed by the five institution-based grantees. And,

E. In-person or phone interviews with a total of 60 colleagues, including 35 denominational and other funders, labor officials from AFSCME and AFL-CIO, a public official, a journalist, experienced observers of organizing, and organizers from other approaches, namely ACORN, NTIC, and Midwest Academy. Interviews were also conducted with 7 leaders and 15 organizers and supervisors from IAF, Gamaliel and PICO. The directors of OLTC and DART, and an organizer from Regional Council of Neighborhood Organizations, were also interviewed.

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1. Did they win concrete improvements and policy changes through collective action?

All five grantees met this criterion, and some met more aspects than others. For instance, BUILD and CCOP, and MICAH and EHPC to a smaller degree, promoted pro-active policy agendas. MICAH and BUILD won improvements for the largest number of people, and were the only grantees who also stimulated similar campaigns by other groups. BUILD stimulated similar living wage campaigns among other groups inside and outside of its network, and MICAH stimulated an anti-redlining campaign among a Gamaliel affiliate in South Africa.

The grantees employed two strategies to win concrete improvements and policy changes: 1. utilizing the framework of public policy and government (new and existing laws, an executive order); and 2. capitalizing on local political dynamics, including elections. In addition, throughout their campaigns, the grantees held public accountability sessions, often engaging 1,000 people, and secured sympathetic press coverage of their actions.

Specific findings included:

What are the strengths?

Winning benefits that improve the quality of life for large numbers of people: The improvements went beyond neighborhood-specific issues such as erecting stop signs or closing crack houses. The grantees enhanced the quality of life at a systemic level for large numbers of people: jobs for 625 workers; higher wages and increased benefits for 4,000 workers; affordable housing and small business loans for 2,400 residents; and a new state assemblyman with policies reaching 15,000 people.

Leveraging policy and politics: The grantees employed their own communities' assets (people and institutions) to leverage existing and new resources. By leveraging the framework of policy-making, local political dynamics, and the election process, they forced a new level of accountability from government. According to New York Councilman Sal Albanese, sponsor of IAF's recently passed living wage bill in New York City, "making democracy work" is a strength of this approach.

What is a limitation?

Absence of a pro-active policy agenda among all five grantees: It is a limitation that only three grantees proposed pro-active policy agendas directly, particularly in light of the fact that all five utilized local politics as one of two primary strategies. Moreover, promoting pro-active policies enhances an organization's opportunities for becoming party to future resource allocations, the second level of power alteration.

The three groups that promoted pro-active policy agendas, however, structurally impacted their communities. BUILD's promotion of living wage policy through enacting new legislation changed wage structures for a sector of workers. This achievement also leveraged more power and developed relationships that created a "Child First Authority" empowered to allocate resources for improving after-school programs. By establishing a decision-making body to allocate future housing and safety resources, CCOP will shape a new policy agenda with long-term solutions to the inter-related problems of abandoned housing and high crime rates. MICAH impacted the hiring practices of companies with city contracts. EHPC's impact on a local state assembly race was impressive for such a new group, but was less direct in promoting policies.

What is the future potential?

Consistently winning improvements and policy changes: The track records of these five grantees in winning improvements and policy changes warrants optimism for continued results. The forecast for promoting pro-active public policy agendas is also promising in light of the recent successes of CCOP and BUILD, as well as other institution-based organizations. For example, many of Discount's IAF-affiliated grantees in New York replicated the "Nehemiah homes" strategy. This strategy united the public and private sectors to promote new affordable housing policies. Kathy Partridge, a program officer at the Needmor Fund, cited Gamaliel's Minnesota groups as another example. These groups played a leading role in passing metropolitan stability legislation that promotes equalizing resource allocation to suburbs and inner cities. They are also promoting more equitable regional tax formulas. Another illustration is PICO's New Orleans affiliate, ACT, which proposed and secured a new policy that funds and implements a comprehensive approach to address drugs and crime. The policy includes funding for drug prevention and treatment programs and increased police personnel, and promoting improved police performance.

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2. Did they alter the relations of power at local, state and national levels?

To arrive at an evaluation of this complex criterion, we utilized a three-dimension paradigm of power developed by S. Lukes in "Power: a Radical View" (1974), and further refined by J. Gaventa in "Power and Powerlessness: Quiescence and Rebellion in an Appalachian Valley," (1980). Organizations that reach the first level of power can influence the process and players involved in resource allocation through rewarding and/or punishing targets. Organizations at the second level of power can set agendas and frame issues by becoming party to resource allocation decisions. Organizations at the third level of power can initiate the reconceptualization of resource allocation and shape how people think about their community.

All five organizations altered power at the first level, described in criterion 1. Through their capacity to punish and reward targets, the grantees leveraged resources. All have shifted the debate on issues at the local level, illustrated by sympathetic press coverage and targets taking credit for their roles and acknowledging the grantees as the legitimate voice of change in their communities. Only BUILD influenced the debate about how wage structures are established beyond Baltimore by stimulating similar campaigns elsewhere.

CCOP and BUILD achieved the second level of power to a greater degree by inserting their influence beyond a one-time negotiation. CCOP convenes a new decision-making body empowered to shape resource allocation and to promote and implement long-term policies on safety and housing. And BUILD changed the mechanism by which wages are established for a sector of workers, and influenced the amount of the wage increase as well as the benefits package. MICAH and EHPC achieved this level of power to a smaller degree. MICAH impacted the ongoing hiring practices of companies with city contracts; and EHPC influenced the outcome of a state assembly race. The new state assemblyman in East Harlem consults regularly with EHPC leaders on state budget issues, among other things. NWFED did not achieve the second level of power alteration.

None fully achieved the third level of power, reconceptualizing resource allocation. However, BUILD achieved certain aspects of the third level by influencing the thinking of key labor leaders regarding the benefits of partnerships with community organizations in the current political and economic climate.

Finally, all five grantees gained new members as a result of these campaigns. MICAH gained 16, and the others gained an average of 4 or 5 new members.

What are the strengths?

Capacity to reward and punish targets: The track record of these groups and this approach to reward and punish targets is impressive. Turning out large numbers of people and negotiating with targets in the context of relationships built on reciprocal power, mutual self-interests, and tension, are key factors in achieving the first level of power.

Connection between becoming party to resource allocation and promoting pro-active policy agendas: As mentioned earlier, CCOP, BUILD, and MICAH illustrate the connection between becoming party to resource allocation and building sufficient power and relationships to propose and pass pro-active policies.

Negotiating with targets empowered to deliver the resources: We concur with Mike Miller that one way of measuring power alteration is whether or not the decision-maker with whom the organization negotiates has the capacity to deliver the group's demands. In other words, is the organization negotiating directly with the decision-maker, or his or her staff? (See Miller's 196 critique of Gary Delgado's "Beyond the Politics of Place.") It is a strength of this approach that all five grantees negotiated directly with decision-makers with power to allocate resources, e.g. bank CEOs, mayors, president of city council, congressmen, and state representatives and senators.

Level of recognition influenced by approach to power relationships: There exists a contractual relationship between each grantee and its targets; the groups secured resources and some of the targets' interests were met in a context of tension. This illustrates "superior bargaining power," a term used by Paul Speer. See Appendix D for his comparative analysis of a PICO group and an ACORN group in Kansas City, Missouri. For example, the bank CEOs who negotiated with MICAH received excellent CRA ratings. The Mayor of Baltimore, who helped pass BUILD's living wage ordinance, was re-elected. City and state officials who negotiated with CCOP received positive press for the first time in a year. Each of the groups' targets publicly acknowledged the groups as a powerful agent for change in their communities. In MICAH's case, one bank CEO spoke publicly about his role in the MICAH banking campaign while receiving an honorary degree. CCOP's targets credited the organization and wove their own role in achieving the results into their campaign speeches. The "relational" and "reciprocal" aspect of altering power has the potential to yield future negotiations, greater resources, and more power.

Other aspects of recognition include sympathetic press coverage that reframes issues to align with the organizations' position.

Shifting the issues debate locally: Besides the five grantees, other network groups have also shifted the debate about their issues locally. For example, PICO's New Orleans group, ACT, shifted the debate about crime solutions from exclusively law enforcement to include comprehensive drug prevention and treatment. IAF's Nehemiah homes strategy, employed by numerous affiliates and Discount grantees, shifted the debate on affordable housing. CHD program officer Hector Rodriguez, and New Mexico Community Foundation staff Frank Sanchez, both cited Valley Interfaith, a Texas IAF affiliate, as an illustration of shifting the issues debate. The group exposed the primitive living conditions in the colonias along the Texas-Mexico border, and caused the reconceptualization among many Mexican-American residents regarding their entitlement to basic necessities such as potable water. Moreover, it caused a paradigm shift among Texas' city, state and federal politicians that forced them to prioritize resources to remedy the problem. However, Sanchez also noted that few institution-based groups change the rules in their communities to the same extent as Valley Interfaith. Joe Brooks, director of the San Francisco Foundation concurred. Brooks lamented how few organizations employing any approach are achieving more than "changing the size of the slices of the (resource) pie." He continued that even fewer are "changing who slices the pie."

Rodriguez noted the role of COPS, an IAF affiliate in San Antonio, in altering power relations at the third level by causing a reconceptualization among its Mexican-American leaders regarding their ability to shape resource allocation. As a result, COPS' second generation, the daughters and sons of COPS' founders, were sufficiently powerful to create a new job training programs such as Project Quest, and to heavily influence the allocation of local CDBG funds.

What are the limitations?

Organizing locally on issues with state-wide, regional and national implications: While PICO and Gamaliel consider themselves national networks, the vast majority of their affiliates are acting exclusively at the metropolitan level. And while IAF does not present itself as a national network, its affiliates are clustered into regions, only some of which are acting at state-wide and regional levels. However, IAF did act nationally a few years ago when leaders and organizers from numerous regions met with key congressional leaders in Washington, D.C. They influenced Congressional leaders to pressure the INS to speed up applications for citizenship, particularly in California.

There is both tension and desire among most network organizers interviewed for this study to act at state-wide and regional levels. The directors of PICO and Gamaliel, John Baumann, S.J. and Greg Galluzzo respectively, expressed the desire for their networks to act regionally, and both are making plans to do so. Ed Chambers, director of IAF, also expressed the benefits of IAF affiliates acting on a larger scale. In his opinion, however, larger scale campaigns should be waged only if they benefit and not jeopardize the local organizations, and also have the ingredients to achieve larger scale victories. He added that it wasn't his decision to make, but rather one for local leaders.

What is the future potential?

The fact that the networks are expanding quickly is promising. Affiliates of all three networks are being launched in key states and regions, and more established affiliates are beginning to act at state-wide and regional levels. Two examples from the Gamaliel network are: the intentional creation of a regional federation, NWFED, comprised of three city-wide organizations; and a state-wide organization of affiliates in Minnesota. In addition, Gamaliel is also launching network-wide outreach to suburban congregations in both new and existing affiliates, thus expanding their influence beyond cities. Another example is PICO's statewide impact on education in California, in particular its campaign to press state-wide officials and school superintendents to establish school-to-work programs. The network is also expanding in Kansas, Missouri, and Louisiana. IAF affiliates in Maryland, Texas, and California have successfully waged state-wide campaigns. Metro IAF recently forced the passage of a living wage ordinance in the New York city council that will increase wages of city-contract workers from four sectors. The range of the new wage structure is $7-12. Another promising example is Metro IAF's recently launched regional voter mobilization strategy and further expansion of its base to include parent, worker, and immigrant constituencies.

It is difficult to discern venues through which the third level of power, reconceptualization of resource allocation, can be fully achieved. One possible venue is bringing together people from different sectors, including labor, social science, policy, electoral, and organizing. Objectives of such a group would include establishing relationships, defining common interests and goals, and developing regional or national strategies to implement them. Lew Finfer, Director of Organizing and Leadership Training Center, and Marlene Provizer also observed the benefits of discussions among organizers and policy analysts to develop strategies that connect local work on issues with larger scale impact and analysis.

Heather Booth, director of Training Programs for the Democratic National Committee, and Jackie Kendall, director of the Midwest Academy, suggested another venue: the marriage of electoral and political organizing with community-based organizing. In most communities the two are disconnected. Numerous colleagues interviewed for this study, including Chuck Shuford, director of the Needmor Fund, and Gene Williams, organizer for the Los Angeles Area Metropolitan Churches, observed that the religious right has achieved this through its collaboration with the political right. EHPC's and BUILD's engagement in non-partisan electoral work, as well as Texas IAF's work on voter registration and turnout, are promising indicators for the future.

We appreciate the point regarding the futility of acting before having the power to win at a larger scale. It is interesting to note however, that most of the colleagues interviewed for this study, including Don Elmer, Community Organizing and Organizational Development Specialist at the Center For Community Change, and Peter Dreier, Professor at Occidental College, assert that the strongest potential for resolving issues with state-wide, regional and national impact and targets, lies with institution-based and other networks ultimately organizing at these scales. Dreier contends that the verdict is still out on whether or not institution-based networks will move in that direction quickly enough to seize opportunities as they arise in the current political and economic context. We agree with Marlene Provizer, Director of the Jewish Fund for Justice, and Seth Borgos, Program Officer at the Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock, who assert that the complex realities presented by this context cannot be addressed exclusively at a city-wide scale. These complex realities include the transfer of corporate headquarters out of state, the increased decision-making power of state officials in resource allocation, and the diminution of resources. Other challenges are shifting tax bases and the diversion of public resources from inner-cities to suburbs. Richard Bensinger, Organizing Director for the AFL-CIO, concluded that part of the future potential of institution-based organizations lies in increasing their focus on economic issues. In Bensinger's opinion, one benefit of the BUILD-AFSCME partnership on the living wage campaign was "putting the issue of wages back on the radar screen in this country." But both he and Paul Booth, Assistant to the President, and Director of Organizing and Field Services for AFSCME International, cautioned that while such partnerships and new worker associations are beneficial, they will not replace strong unions.

One hopeful sign is the utilization of outside research and policy experts by some institution-based organizations to assist in their campaigns. CCOP for example, enlisted research staff and students from Rutgers University to help them prove the causal relationship between abandoned housing and high crime rates through "community mapping." Other PICO affiliates such as Kansas City Organizing Project also utilize research expertise outside the organization. Gamaliel recently created a national research and issues development position, staffed by one of its senior organizers. IAF also hires staff with expertise as needed. For example, last year, Metro IAF hired a specialist to develop and run its voter mobilization strategy. And more recently, the new joint OLTC-IAF project in Boston welcomed the research expertise of Harvard students.

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3. Are they developing citizen leaders in poor, urban communities of color?

Each of the five grantees satisfied every aspect of this criterion. In this approach, leaders are defined as having a following. In this approach, leaders and organizers identify potential leaders, then train and develop them. The groups engage and develop 220-300 leaders in substantial involvement including task forces and action/core teams, and between 21 and 56 leaders in formal governance. The grantees also involve approximately 1,000 leaders in actions, one-on-one meetings and/or house meetings, for the purpose of relationship-building, identifying issues, and recruitment. The leaders interviewed for this study assert, and our findings confirm, that multiple levels of involvement, comprehensive leadership development beyond basic skills training, and internal relational and deliberative processes, are integral rather than incidental to the long-term stability of these organizations. These factors also enhance the organizations' ability to alter power and to win concrete benefits. We assert the following connections based on our findings:

A. Strong organizers are the most likely to develop strong leaders.

B. Strong leaders build on past victories, develop new leaders, and engage more people in action. This strengthens the organization's bargaining power to influence more powerful targets.

C. Strong leaders parlay their negotiating, tactical and strategic skills, with that of the organizer, to seize issue opportunities and to shape winnable campaigns.

D. Stronger skills, and the ability to turn out more people using relational, reflective, and deliberative processes strengthens their ability to reward and punish more powerful targets.

E. This leads to winning more structural changes and improvements, and altering power at a higher, more systemic level.

F. The more power these organizations garner, the greater their opportunities to shift the issues debates and stimulate reconceptualization of how their communities think about what they can achieve.

G. Strong leaders are most likely to build and lead strong organizations.

H. This frees up organizers to start up new organizations nearby. NWFED was launched because ICO's organizer was freed up to re-build its sister organization in Gary.

I. Increasing numbers of strong organizations in a given county, state and region, enhance the potential for addressing issues at scale.

We uncovered two processes employed by all five grantees to achieve a comprehensive level of leadership development:

Leaders are primarily trained locally, in the context of the organizing work, not apart from it. Some also attend both weekend and week-long or ten-day training provided by the network. New leaders are mentored and developed by both seasoned leaders and organizers. This allows organizers more time to develop new and more seasoned leaders, and to build new organizations nearby.

Finally, our findings indicate that the role of institution-based networks in identifying, recruiting, training and developing organizers is instrumental to developing leaders capable of building and

leading strong organizations. Nearly all of our colleagues identified leadership development and the networks' role in producing talented organizers as two prominent strengths of this approach.

What are the strengths?

Earning leadership through relational processes that sustain long-term involvement: According to the leaders interviewed for this study, the trust built through the relational technique of one-on-one's was a key factor influencing their long-term involvement. Wesley Woo, Western regional director for the Center for Community Change also emphasized this point.

Leaders shape and implement the work through a participatory and deliberative process: This process engages large numbers of people (between 220-300) in a deliberative process that engenders varied roles for new and seasoned leaders, and fosters growth opportunities. In many other approaches, strategic decisions about issues are made at the governance/board level and engage far fewer participants in the process. (See Paul Speer, Joseph Hughey, Leah K. Gensheimer, and Warren Adams-Leavitt: "Organizing for Power: a Comparative Case Study." Journal of Community Psychology 23, no. 5 (1995): 57-73 for copmarison of a PICO group and an ACORN grou, summarized in Appendix D.) According to leaders interviewed for our study, the two processes described on the previous page engender long-term, deep involvement of leaders because they build trust. In addition, the issue work of the organization and the leadership development both occur through these processes.

Development of leaders goes beyond basic skills training: That leaders are primarily trained locally, in the context of the organizing work, is a strength. Some also attend both weekend and week-long or ten-day training provided by the network. This development goes beyond tactical skill development, and focuses on a diverse set of interests that comprise a leader's motivation for involvement in the organization. Chuck Shuford, director of the Needmor Fund, and Madeline Lee, director for the New York Foundation, observed the benefit of political education provided to organizers, particularly in developing strategic campaigns on complex targets and issues.

Training and development of organizers is intimately connected to the strength of organizations: Recruiting, developing and sustaining organizers continues to be one of the networks' greatest strengths and challenges. According to our data and the opinions of our colleagues interviewed for this study, each network has systematized training, mentoring, and evaluating of organizers by more seasoned organizers/supervisors.

What are the limitations?

Role of organizers and leaders: It is appropriate that the organizer's role is proposing strategies on issues and targets. However, Barak Obama, former organizer in Chicago, Don Elmer, and Rev. John Heinemeier, 25-year veteran leader with IAF, stated their desire for the networks to provide the same advanced level of strategy training for leaders as they do for organizers. Moreover, Rev. Heinemeier and Mr. Elmer both pointed out the need for more opportunities on a network-wide level, where leaders can learn from one another and build relationships. Rev. Heinemeier added that all three networks would also benefit from encouraging and providing opportunities for seasoned leaders to start-up new organizations as organizers currently do. He did not wait for the networks to get started. To date, he has helped build two IAF affiliates: East Brooklyn Congregations and South Bronx Churches. Most recently, he helped launch a joint IAF-OLTC (Organizing and Leadership Training Center) organizing effort in Boston. Frank Sanchez also observed the need to break through a "ceiling" for leaders.

Distrust of other networks: A limitation articulated by nearly every funder interviewed for this study is the deep distrust and lack of respect among network organizers, and of other networks. They argue that this dampens the potential for inter-network collaboration on campaigns, which for many funding colleagues including Randy Keesler, Program Officer at HD, Doug Lawson, CHD's Associate Director, and Dick Ullrich, Director of the Marianist Sharing Fund, holds promise for greater impact on issues.

Long process of building organizations: The limitation of an organizational culture where relational and deliberative processes predominate is the length of time it takes to build the organizations. Many funding colleagues also expressed this view.

What is the future potential?

Context calls for large numbers of people engaged in bold action: AFL-CIO's Organizing Director Richard Bensinger, and Associate Director Mark Splain, noted the level of belligerence exhibited by corporate targets in the current context. They assert that this climate calls for large numbers of people willing to act boldly in order to force corporate targets to negotiate. They agree with our contention that institution-based organizing can deliver those numbers. Bensinger wondered whether conservative churches affiliated with institution-based groups would prevent such bold action. Paul Booth expressed the opinion that this approach engages more people than most other organizing approaches, with the exception of unions. Bensinger and Splain concurred. We feel the outlook is promising for the continued success in meeting this criterion.

Strong development of leaders and organizers: The potential for this approach to develop strong leaders and organizers is promising, given its level of priority among institution-based networks. However, recruiting and developing sufficient numbers of new organizers to meet the current level of demand is at the top of the list of challenges expressed by network directors and staff. Second on the list is developing the mid-level career organizers with 8-15 years of experience. Recruiting and sustaining organizers of color continues to be challenging for all three networks.

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4. Are they increasing civic participation at local, state and national levels?

We received little hard data with which to evaluate this criterion. However, we did find that all five groups increased civic participation of 1,000 or more leaders in the context of the organization. We also found that EHPC reached 4,000 voters in voter turnout drives that were linked to their issues. BUILD also turned out voters in the heated mayoral race which provided the context for its living wage campaign. What is unclear from the information provided is whether leaders from the five organizations play broader leadership roles in the community outside of the organization.

While EHPC and BUILD turned out large numbers of voters in two specific elections, our findings are inconclusive regarding whether or not increased participation in these organizations translates into increased and consistent electoral participation over time. The lack of information on this point is less a limitation than a disconnect between the electoral process and community mobilization.

What are the strengths and future potential?

Large numbers of people influence targets: We've noted the connection between the ability to engage large numbers of people to altering power and winning improvements by securing accountability from decision-makers. Jim Dwyer, a reporter for the New York Daily News, and Madeline Lee both noted the powerful message the numbers and leader sophistication sends to targets. Indeed, the targets are just as interested as the organizers and leaders in the number of people who attend actions.

Utilizing electoral processes to leverage issue wins: The ability to utilize the electoral process to leverage issues is also a strength and bodes well for future impact, as indicated in the section on altering power relations.

What are the limitations?

Lack of knowledge concerning the role of leaders in the broader community: In our view, it is a limitation that organizers were not aware if leaders played a role in the broader community, outside the context of the organization. This is notable, given the relational nature of the approach and its emphasis on understanding leaders' interests at multiple levels.

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5. Are they building stable and financially viable organizations, accountable to the communities in which they are located?

In order to evaluate this complex criterion, we looked at five areas: Membership and Representation of communities in which they are located, Resources, Staffing, Organizational Culture, and Governance.

All five organizations met this criterion. They satisfied some aspects more than others, and in many categories we found both strengths and limitations. Our findings revealed implications for the grantees concerning stability, financial viability and accountability. First, we found that the governing bodies of the organizations are representative of the organization's member institutions regarding race and ethnicity, gender, income-level, occupations, and denomination. However, the near absence of youth is problematic because they bring a vitality that reinvigorate organizations overtime. Second, while the grantees are financially viable and make effective use of community resources, a small percentage of their budgets derive from members dues and they rely heavily on foundation funding. Most of the five in fact, raise at least half of their budgets from foundations. IAlso, in all fvie grantees, the organizers, not leaders, raised all foundation funding. This reliance is risky given shrinking funding dollars. Third, there was a formal accountability between organizers and the organizational boards who hire and evaluate them, and with their network supervisors who recruit and develop them. Fourth, we found that these organizations' base in religious institutions brought a complexity and stability that goes beyond a ready-made base of people, money and in-kind resources. The organizational culture harnesses and leverages congregations' social capital for social change. By fusing faith and politics, and acting on progressive issues, they build an organizational culture that engenders long-term involvement of leaders in a religious context. Moreover, longevity of leaders leads to the long-term stability of organizations. Finally, we discovered that despite the participatory and deliberative processes of strategic decision-making on issues, the process of selecting rather than electing governing bodies and the absence of set terms could pose challenges of accountability. This is a limitation of this approach in which internal and external accountability is seminal.

What are the strengths?

Representation of communities: One strength is that the organizations' governing bodies are representative of their member institutions in terms of race and ethnicity, gender, occupation, income-level, and denomination. The multi-racial, multi-income, and multi-denominational character of the organizations has been key to building broad-based power in the economically and racially mixed communities in which they operate. The organizational leaders are working poor, and low-middle income people. The occupations of the governing body members and other organizational leaders include: nurses, secretaries, steel workers, city and state civil service employees, teachers, temporary employees, machinists, homemakers, and workers who are now disabled. Others are home care attendants/child care workers, owners of small businesses, social workers, and retail department store clerks. Retirees were also represented in each organization's leadership.

Making effective use of community resources: One strength of these groups and this approach is mobilizing and making effective use of community resources such as people and institutions. For instance, congregations are an important resource for actions, in-kind office space, and most importantly, legitimacy.

Accountable staff: Accountability is institutionalized in these organizations through organizers reporting to and being evaluated by their network supervisors and the organization's boards which hire them.

Organizational culture that leverages the social capital of congregations for social changes: The organizational culture of this approach unites potent ingredients: religious language, symbols and practices in the context of values and meaning, and relationship-based organizing principles intent on forcing accountability in the public arena. Add to this mixture comprehensive leadership development, and relational and deliberative processes that keep both organizers and leaders engaged over long periods of time. Our findings indicate that at its best, this particular mix of ingredients creates an alternative culture that affords the organization deep roots in the community and the cloak of moral authority that religious leaders uniquely enjoy in the public arena. While other organizing approaches also create alternative cultures, this perceived moral authority makes it much more difficult for targets to ignore these organizations. The power of congregations in American life traditionally has not gone unnoticed by public officials or corporate CEOs. This alternative culture asserts that democracy demands civic participation and action in the decisions that affect peoples' lives. It argues that a relational culture based on reciprocal power and mutual self-interests is more desirable than a market culture that promotes profit at any cost. By leveraging the "social capital" of congregations to advance social change, this approach has the potential to offer a progressive alternative to the religious right's conservative agenda.

Strengthens the leadership infrastructure of some of the only remaining community institutions in poor communities: Because many congregations are the last remaining, stable community institutions in poor, urban neighborhoods of color, building their leadership infrastructure strengthens their stability. In some communities, congregations are the only social glue preventing a total unraveling of the communities' social fabric.

An organizational culture based on values and consensus is also a strength because it "enables diverse groups of people to coalesce around a common purpose grounded in basic values, while still holding differences on other beliefs and issues that are outside the common purpose."( pg. 69, Robinson and Hanna, 1994). Richard Wood (1995) discusses organizational culture in his dissertation comparing the organizational cultures of a PICO group with a group affiliated with the Center for Third World Organizing. Mark Russell Warren (1995) also addresses the issue in his dissertation on Texas IAF groups.

What are the limitations?

Most instituion-based organizations don't reach unaffiliated residents: The inability of unaffiliated individuals to join most institution-based organizations was the most commonly discussed limitation by colleagues interviewed.

Absence of youth: Youth are conspicuously absent from these organizations. This limitation was voiced by some of the colleagues interviewed, including Peter Dreier, Joe Brooks, and Margie Fine, Director of the Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock.

Low percentage of budgets deriving from member dues, and reliance on foundations: In three of the five organizations studied, the organizer raises more than 50% of the organization's resources from foundations. This is particularly problematic in this age of shrinking foundation dollars. Higher percentages of local budgets dering from dues and more income from other local institutions and donors would denote deeper financial investment by the institutional members and their communities, as well as greater long-term financial viability.

Power of pastors in congregations' decision to join: In the early stages of building institution-based organizations, the pastor has nearly exclusive power over whether his or her congregations joins.

Selection of governance body: We consider the method of selecting governing bodies a limitation. Mark Russell Warren terms the governing structure within Texas IAF groups as a "participatory hierarchy". This portrayal also applies to the five groups scrutinized in this study, as well as many other institution-based groups. (See Warren's dissertation.) In unions and in other approaches governance bodies are elected. The selection process, including an absence of set terms, does not afford opportunities for leaders to formally compete for governance positions or to be held formally accountable by their member institutions.

There co-exists two seemingly contradictory elements: broad and deep participation in the context of highly accountable relationships; and a hierarchical governance structure. This poses an interesting dilemma and challenge for this approach. For example, there is a high level of institutionalized accountability from the member institutions and its leaders to the organizations, from leaders to leaders, from organizers to leaders and governance board, and from organizers to their network supervisors. Network supervisors and governing bodies are also accountable to each other through a contract for training and developing organizers and leaders. Network organizers argue that these accountable relationships, combined with the leaders' ability to "walk with their feet" if they or their institution choose not to participate in this structure, provide sufficient checks and balances to the structure in lieu of elections.

We do not argue that elections are the only democratic way to ensure accountability. Nor do we argue that all election processes are democratic in practice. However, we assert that competition for governance positions with set terms, in a formal way, would be more consistent with the approach. In terms of delivering on the self-interests of the organization there is a high degree of accountability required of leaders to the organizer and other leaders. But the process and structure lacks comparable institutionalized accountability of the organization's governing body members to deliver on the self-interests of the member institutions they represent, such as increasing their congregational memberships through the organizing work. It is notable that two-thirds of DART's affiliates formally elect their governance bodies at annual conventions.

What is the future potential?

Growing dues bases: The future bodes well for this approach in building stable organizations that are representative of their communities and member institutions. The challenge of growing their dues bases and other sources of non-foundation funding becomes increasingly important given the shrinking dollars for grantmaking and restructuring within denominational funders. This point was emphasized by Rev. Phil Tom, consultant for the Presbyterian World Service, Rev. Kim Jefferson, consultant for the Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church, and Mr. Steve Nunn-Miller, director of the United Church of Christ's Hunger Action Fund. Paul Booth and other colleagues also voiced concerns about the reliance on foundations. They hope to see higher investments from the local communities in which these groups are located. They continue to believe that this approach holds promise for revitalizing congregations. A hopeful sign for additional future funding of this approach is the formation of a new funding collaborative by Interfaith Funders (IF). IF is comprised of faith-based funders from Catholic, Jewish, Unitarian, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Lutheran traditions. The purpose of the collaborative is to secure new funding from mainstream funders to support this approach.

Responding to the suburbanization of inner-city congregational memberships: According to Peter Dreier, a new phenomenon that institution-based organizations will need to address is the suburbanization of the members of inner-city congregations. Gamaliel and IAF are addressing this issue in part, through recruiting suburban churches into their affiliates.

Providing an alternative to the religious right's conservative agenda: According to Gene Williams, lead organizer of Los Angeles Metropolitan Areas Churches, affiliated with Regional Network of Community Organizations, further connecting faith and politics through biblically-based language and symbols, holds both challenge and promise for institution-based organizing. Moreover, he also stated the importance of recruiting small, store-front predominantly African-American churches, in which the religious right is already making headway.

Expanding base among low-income and unaffiliated residents: As mentioned earlier, while most institution-based groups do not reach the lowest-income and unaffiliated residents, some do. PICO encourages residents from surrounding neighborhoods to join their LOC's without joining the member institution. As mentioned earlier, another variation is SSC (Solidarity Sponsoring Committee), built by BUILD and AFSCME, and comprised of previously unaffiliated workers. Also, BUILD's Child First Authority recruited hundreds of parents from schools and other institutions outside BUILD's membership. Metro IAF's newly launched voter mobilization strategy is to organize voters into precinct operations and then link them with its local affiliates.

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Colleague Comments:

Strengths and future potential: The following were the most frequently mentioned strengths expressed by colleagues interviewed for this study. These strengths were also articulated as the basis for the future potential of this organizing approach for making long-term change:

Nearly all colleagues interviewed for this study asserted that institution-based organizing holds great potential for making long-term change in poor urban communities of color.

Limitations: The following were the most frequently mentioned limitations of institution-based organizing expressed by colleagues interviewed for this study:

An additional limitation posed by some colleagues, and articulated in recent organizing literature, is that this approach does not address racially-framed, or socially divisive issues.

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Our recommendations to the Discount Foundation regarding institution-based organizing include:

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Cortes, Ernesto. 1993. Reweaving the Social Fabric: The Iron Rule and the IAF Strategy for Dealing with Poverty Through Power and Politics. Center for Urban Policy Research. Available at http://members.aol.com/ttresser/cortes.htm.

Gaventa, John, 1980. "Power and Powerlessness: Quiescence and Rebellion in an Appalachian Valley.Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Jewish Fund for Justice. 1995. Annual Report, 260 5th ave. #701, NY, NY 10001.

Lukes, S., 1974. "Power: a Radical View." London: Macmillan Press, 1974.

Miller, Michael, 1996. "Beyond the Politics of Place": A Critical Review. Available fro COMM-ORG, at http://comm-org.wisc.edu/papers96/Millerindex.html.

Robinson, Buddy, and Mark G. Hanna. 1994. "Lessons for Academics from Grassroots Community Organizing: a Case Study--The Industrial Areas Foundation," Journal of Community Practice 1, no. 4

Wood, Richard Lawrence Wood. 1995. "Faith in Action: Religion, Race and the Future of Democracy," PhD. diss., University of California.

Warren, Mark Russell Warren. 1995. "Social Capital and Community Empowerment:  Religion and Political Organization in the Texas Industrial Areas Foundation." PhD. diss., Harvard University, 1995.)


The following Appendices are not attached, but could be requested by e-mail):

A. Detailed summary of findings on applying the method of analysis to five Discount grantees;

B. Sources consulted

C. List of persons interviewed

D. Excerpts and commentary on Paul Speer’s comparative analysis of a PICO and an ACORN group in Kansas City, MO,

E. Method of analysis/protocol form

F. Comparison with ACORN on select topics, pp. 59-60.