Working Group Homepage Summary Participants

Detailed Notes

 I. Introductory Session on Expectations--Thursday:

Participants were asked to form small groups, each with a funder, an academic, and an organizer/leader. Each group was to develop a list of their top three expectations for the gathering. Below are the results.

Group 1

  1. What's the role of academics in addressing community and/or justice issues?
  2. How can we expand on this role?(a. credentialing; b. policy analysis; c. identify organizing talent; d. tech assistance/$$)
  3. How and where do we find each other?

Group 2

  1. How are partnerships created between organizers and academics?
  2. Would like to be updated on the development of faith-based organizing?
  3. Would like funders and academics to better understand organizing as experienced by organizers and leaders.

Group 3

  1. Increase student interest in issues of struggle, particularly those that involve labor.
  2. Get academics more heavily involved in community issues and more active in working within the community.
  3. Learning from the experiences of each participant in this group.

Group 4

    1. relationship building and reconnection
    2. Hear about models/examples of collaborations and hear where interests overlap
    3. Discuss possible role that funders can play.

    Group 5

    1. What is the role of funders in this process? Interest/self-interest?
    2. What is the set of self-interests or limits on what academics can do in collaboratives?
    3. How can we build a mechanism to broaden ever-widening circles of collaboration? Among academics? Among funders? Among other constituencies-labor?
    4. What on-going collaborations are now underway? What gets funded?

    Group 6

  1. How do the three proposed collaborative partners come together?
  2. What is the role of labor unions in these partnerships?
  3. What is the effect of state coalitions on voter initiatives (esp. bilingual education).

Group 7

  1. Want to get network of solidarity and support for academic work related to social movements and community organizations.
  2. How can we find incentives to link community organizations and groups to academics, students, and public policy experts.
  3. Better access to funders, dollars, for community organizing efforts.
  4. Do community organizations see a strategic need to link w/ allies in labor movement, academia, and other social movements?

Group 8

  1. To learn about successful collaborations with academics.
  2. To advance collaborative work in the interest of organizing
  3. To get a basic sense of the landscape.

After the groups reported back to the larger group, the larger group identified the following themes:

  • how to make and maintain connections
  • how to bring interests and resources together (get out of our boxes)
  • real life examples
  • labor as part of this?
  • What is the role of academics?
  • What is the role of funders?
  • Further discussion focused on:

  • concern about larger philosophical issues; different models held by organizers, funders, etc - models of organizing, grantmaking, research
  • role of the media; the larger public's assumption of what is going on
  • what is faith-based organizing? In Virginia, that makes [the speaker] nervous
  • Participants asked us to remember:

    II. Panel Session--examples of Collaborations--Thursday:

    In this session, four panelists each spoke for 10 minutes, and a discussion followed.

    Rob Kleidman, Cleveland State Unviersity: Lessons in collaborative work-relationships are important; how be honest w/someone who is not part of your organization; better understanding by actually being involved; become a better teacher; have an effect on the world. For organizers-have an outsider to reflect org.; bring new resources in. Learn importance of collaboration as a process.

    Lisa Donner, ACORN. About how to find academics. -"hunting expedition"-finding out what research was out there (useful to have tips); finding data for local area (needed to get people to create data and do studies-timeline was an issue here); looking for expert spokespeople (usually use only own people so used member-academic teams); needed people to do educational meetings; "hamburger study" looked at McDonald's pay in suburbs compared to downtown did by ACORN itself (suburbs paid more). Now research came out by academics.

    Larry Ferlazzo, Sacramento Valley Organizing Community. A little wary of academics. But working with some research organizations (not universities). Would rather have others do research and organizations use it. Have done visits to UC-Davis but can't find partners. Have had some help with Harvard Business School, USC. Potential-academics are smart and have access to resources. How can developing relationships transform both parties.

    Rachel Parker Gwin, Virginia Tech University. Service learning is a way to get students involved with community groups. Some issues: negotiate true partnerships (diversity training to teach students are not helpers); keep students involved beyond course requirements; institutionalize relationship within university-create centers and get U. to fundraise for community projects.


    III. Separate Funder, Organizer, Academic Small Group Discussions--Thursday

    In this session, we separated organizers into one group, funders into another, and academics into a third. Each group was to identify what their interests were in a organizer-academic partnership, what they could offer to the other two groups, what they wanted from the other two groups, and what the opportunities and challenges were in collaborative work. Following the report backs from each group, there was a general discussion to identify common themes and issues.



    1. develop relationships with academia as well as do direct funding
    2. build links to reveal the worth of CO
    3. show outcomes
    4. influence public policy; but fragmentation and fragility of community organizations make it hard to see them as an ally in this
    5. fund groups not on the margins; academics are instrumental in helping groups move from margins
    6. fund organizations with potential for scale
    7. help organizations become more purposeful learners
    8. move organizations to drop purist attitude

    Can offer:

    1. cross disciplines, open doors
    2. vantage point
    3. funding collaborations
    4. access to the community for academics


    1. scale
    2. impact
    3. get out of the box
    4. see us as other than money
    5. be in learning relationships
    6. long-term vision
    7. help us step back and evaluate ourselves
    8. honest evaluation of your work


    1. scale
    2. get word out to media

    Organizers and Leaders

    1. credibility and credentialing of the work
    2. policy analysis
    3. recruiting
    4. strategic planning
    5. growth relationships for intellectual capital
    6. help framing policy debates
    7. measurement framework and tools
    8. diverse ideas
    9. tell stories
    10. revitalization strategies
    11. critical look at our work
    12. regional strategies
    13. Can Offer:

    14. power
    15. agitation, challenge, threat
    16. access to resources
    17. meaningful work, opportunity for academics to put their work to use
    18. something to analyze for academics
    19. live audience
    20. "cover": opportunity to speak out and hide behind organizing effort, be in new arenas
    21. improve neighborhoods where academies are located
    22. reality
    23. credibility
    24. alternative to identity politics
    25. Want:

    26. curiosity and understanding
    27. honesty
    28. commitment to relationship around certain principles
    29. integrity in stated goals
    30. write about in plain English
    31. let community set agenda
    32. Opportunities;

    33. increased resources
    34. better knowledge
    35. ability to develop broader vision
    36. Challenges

    37. sometimes misunderstanding of our work
    38. not be taken over



    1. more exciting ways to do work
    2. energize students offer opportunities
    3. affect the world
    4. reality check
    5. help change the world
    6. mentor students
    7. further democratic potential of CO
    8. hope in hard times
    9. access to community
    10. creates rigor in our work
    11. open our institutions, get more leverage
    12. Want:

    13. From organizers:
    14. From funders:
    15. Offer:

    16. skills: analysis, research, writing
    17. independence
    18. body of knowledge
    19. access to academic community
    20. resources: libraries, etc
    21. spreading the word
    22. students
    23. ourselves as dialogue partners
    24. we're self-directed
    25. ideas
    26. Challenges and opportunities:

    27. we do different work, have different time frames, rewards, etc.
    28. we're often more respected than activists by powers that be
    29. ways to structure ongoing relationships
    30. we can accomplish more together
    31. inform policy through new models
    32. complementarity - challenge and opportunity
    33. more fun

    The discussion generated the following themes and issues:

    1. strongly against utilitarian relationships, for deep encumbered relationships
    2. overlap between academics and organizers: reality, change the world
    3. public policy as an opportunity to come together
    4. massive collaborative think tank
    5. pace of change is such that we need each other; can share in developing theory of change
    6. fun
    7. recognition that right wing is way ahead in visioning and creating change
    8. need to get the word out
    9. Issues:

    10. resources
    11. written vs. oral culture
    12. academics wanting independence from particular community organizations. vs. organizations saying we want to call the shots
    13. acknowledge demands on each group
    14. mutual respect
    15. what drives the research agenda (independence v. control)
    16. funders bringing groups together: different views of this (academics stressed, organizers did not)

    IV- Reflections--Friday

    We adapted the agenda on Friday, based on what we learned Thursday, to begin with some reflections from the large group after they had a night's sleep behind them. So we began with about 40 minutes of discussion asking people to talk about what moved them, what intrigued them, and what surprised them. Here's what people said:

    1. research can be done confidentially
    2. beyond CO, there are other kinds of advocacy and issue groups; are we talking about working with them
    3. desire by funders not to be treated instrumentally
    4. tension between academic freedom and organizers wanting control: (Richard Wood): I will show people stuff, but not give them veto power over what I write
    5. lots of funders were activists, academics before became funders; struck by our interests to be part of this triumvirate in more meaningful way; tension between institutional role and personal desires
    6. role of the media; how lift the stories, deal with indifference and cynicism
    7. intrigued by interest in creating something very significant that would counter what the religious right has done; nationally, bring people together that have not been working together in the past
    8. almost all organizing ventures have some research going on; how teach this
    9. sociology umbrella for the academics; where are you in intersecting with other disciplines; how boost that work
    10. interest in organizers in movements;
    11. surprise that this conversation is only coming up now; have talked with lots of organizers about are you building a movement or an organization; I've always felt organizing will lead to change because they change people; movements can't be planned
    12. academics are removed from the real world; from another planet
    13. academics want to connect; all politics is local; hard to know how to connect without knowing who you are; who wants to connect: individual, institution; how can we be useful to one another?; uncomfortable with vagueness of what this is
    14. overlaps
    15. from academics: organizers aren't purely instrumental, do want deeper relationships
    16. there's still a level of our discourse that assumes that we are about trying to do something, change things in the dominant culture. We're not being clear enough about the need to think hard, be clear and critical, about changing the way mediating institutions operate. Doing so opens up whole news ways to collaborate.
    17. We're operating very individualistically; talking to organizers is not the same as talking to communities; there's another level of engagement beyond organizers; in academia there's something beyond sociology. Engaging institutions and communities
    18. Agree with frustration about vagueness; if I were an organizer would not be clear about value of collaborations. Disagree with notion that collaborations need to be purely local. Power comes also from knowledge and ideas, which are completely portable. Don't need to look just at local academics.
    19. If we were to build trust across lines, we have to get beyond where we have a lot of faith about getting people in the same room, assuming exchange of ideas builds community. We need enough time to get to know one another. I applaud this start, but this is only a start.
    20. If an individual CO needs research, they do need to be comfortable with researcher. There is another level of research, involving studying many organizations, over large geographic span. We're working with archives, reports, etc. that may be useful in understanding effects of organizing. That doesn't necessarily depend on profound relationships.
    21. There' s much more than research: help CO groups to sharpen point of view, provide road map to policy process, etc. It is data, there is value in giving community-based efforts research tools.
    22. I had assumed we were talking about relating to institutions; now have to deal with forming relationships with individuals.
    23. Self-interest of Interfaith Funders: we stepped out of our usual model of funding to say one of our long-term interests is to see organizers get out of the box at how they look at making change. It is hard to talk about collaborative work outside of local context. But to move forward we need to be in conversation about collaborative work, even if there is no framework now. How develop relationships including beyond utilitarian ones?

    V. The Vision Discussion--Friday

    We had planned to break up into some special topic interest groups, but when we asked people to indicate which ones they wanted to be involved in, nearly all chose the "vision discussion" so we convened mixed small groups (academics, organizers, and funders together in each) to address four questions:

    1. what is the context that creates a need or desire for collaborations/partnerships?
    2. What role might collaboratives/partnerships play in addressing the context and how are they related to other responses?
    3. What could collaborations/partnerships look like?
    4. How could collaborations/partnerships frame public policy?

    Here are the report backs from each group:

    Group 1

    1. Need for more leverage in policy arena; looking for synergy
    2. Failures of previous funding efforts and emerging concern about participation
    3. Too much for community groups to do
    4. Our power is diffused, fragmented
    5. Need to be smarter about dealing with media
    6. Context of global economy
    7. Role:

    8. Shared information
    9. Make available more resources
    10. Sharpen analysis and messages
    11. New venue for leadership development over the long term
    12. What do they look like?

    13. Foundation that's involved as fiscal agent, community organization. manages, constituency steers
    14. Diversified leadership
    15. Clearinghouse
    16. Connect research centers
    17. National networks
    18. Influencing public policy:

    19. 1. State level
    20. 2. Influence our larger visions of what kind of world we want to live in

    Group 2.

    1. need for power, understanding social change, devolution, corporate merger
    2. globalization
    3. understanding political, religious, economic system
    4. Role:

    5. Personal satisfaction
    6. Broader perspective
    7. Allies
    8. Students learn more about real world
    9. Broaden academics view of community
    10. Deepen capacity to make funding decisions
    11. Provide tech. Skills, open doors
    12. What do they look like:

    13. 1. local informal conversations with the players
    14. 2. a university department becoming a member of the community organization
    15. 3. contractual relationships
    16. 4. umbrella for funding for education of community
    17. 5. ad hoc advisory group
    18. Influencing Policy:

    Group 3:

    1. global economy, marketization of life, etc
    2. poor people losing
    3. global disparities
    4. need for everyone to recognize this context
    5. retrenchment?
    6. Roles:

    7. develop relationships w/ health care
    8. universities produce professionals who, e.g., teach
    9. organizers change people, academies change ideas
    10. figure out how to speak to folks, as powerfully as does the right
    11. the right supports each other, we don't
    12. how do individual organizations add up to a movement
    13. organizers start where people are, are afraid of introducing ideas (debated)
    14. popular education and dialogue
    15. include pastors in political education
    16. change the academy from inside
    17. What do they look like:

    18. Interfaith education
    19. Scale of thinking - need to increase
    20. More and better organizing
    21. Start from where we are, much further along than 10 years ago

    Larger Discussion:

    1. Sue Lacy - My biggest fear as an organizer is when I'm 60 I'll be reading the same news as today. How do we transform our organizing, which is good, into undeniable explosion such that media will have to pay attention?
    2. There is a real hunger to talk about the bigger issues, not many opportunities
    3. Conspiracy: the only way to order the relationships is to conspire together because this is where we need to go. Too many things have kept us apart, but it's not enough to say we have to find ways to research together. I'm interested in whether we're going to go somewhere together
    4. That implies we agree on where we want to go
    5. Never heard "electoral politics" mentioned. Discussion invited
    6. Increasing solidarity around ideas and relationships
    7. Need for strategic visioning
    1. How modify market economy (earlier comment of how find alternative to it).
    2. Karen Paget, in American Prospect, we either have to organize ideas or organize people
    1. Next Steps--Friday:

    We spent some time at the end both presenting what our next steps would be and what next steps others wanted.

    1. Jeannie Appleman will develop a list of funders who fund community efforts, who are interested in developing relationships between organizing and academia. Spence Limbocker will help on this; and will continue to collect information.
    2. Madeleine Scammell, of the Loka Institute is organizing a conference on similar topics, and creating guidelines for community-academic partnerships.
    3. Randy Stoecker is writing up this report for distribution.
    4. Rob Kleidman is organizing a core group to develop further next steps.

    Suggestions for other possible next steps:

    1. Connect with each other electronically? Jeannie: can send stuff to me and I'll send it out.
    2. Question: for local funders, want national funders to partner with - convene together
    3. More polished report, that gets out to the rest of the academic and activists communities, publishable
    4. Discussion around this: is it worth doing, who else should be part of the conversation?
    5. Short version of key points - 2-3 pages.
    6. Briefly described best practices, conditions for them, impacts. (Randy: there are two examples, Madeleine's and U. Tenn.)
    7. Madeleine: there are 16 campuses
    8. Sue: Does this group of people want to move forward to create something we're not able to do separately.? Discussion - how to do that, what to do.
    9. Jeannie - there are funders interested in organizers talking across disciplines. May be possible to have another conversation.
    10. Rob: core group to figure this one. One from each constituency
    11. Richard: need to put legs on this
    12. Randy: stay in conversation, contact
    13. Ken: Two possibilities. Form left-progressive organizing think tank. Don't see that happening. Too diverse etc. What can happen is a place for people of talent and spirit to compare what they have done. Because of this conversation I'll be more lively in my work. Resources are very important. Even if not a think tank.
    14. There are research activities and institutes that are not networked, connected to the communities, and they can be.
    15. Other people interested: Marshall Ganz, Mark Warren.