Building Resident Power and Capacity for Change

An "on-the-ground" reflection about what it takes for funders to work effectively with low-income communities

Posted April 9, 2009
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
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Grassroots Grantmakers is a learning network for funders working on community change in the United States and Canada. They convened 50 community organizers and activists to observe organizing efforts in two low-income neighborhoods in Chicago. This report details the infrastructure, investments, time and energy it takes for resident-led organizing to take root and contribute to broader social change efforts. The group found that changes supported by organized neighborhoods are sustainable because they are driven by those with the most at stake  -- the people who live, work and worship in the neighborhoods. 

Findings & Stats

Statements & Quotations

Key Takeaway

Funders need to have the right mindset to make lasting change in tough neighborhoods.

Community organizing needs to be connected to system change efforts, but it is a balancing act. Funders should not fund community organizing to push for the system changes they want. They need to help communities push for the system changes that the residents want, building their capacity to initiate change. Funders can play a key role in using their connections and credibility to connect resident leaders and community change agendas to local government, foundations and school districts.