Archive for category social justice

Social Justice Organizations Moving from Intention to Practice: the Journey of Minnesota’s Fellowship Organizations

Social Justice Organizations Moving from Intention to Practice: the Journey of Minnesota’s Fellowship Organizations

By Barbara Phillips, Social justice activist and former Ford Foundation Program Officer for Women’s Rights and Gender Equity

The Minnesota cohort of the Organization Fellowship Program convened on March 24- 25, 2011 in sunny, cold St. Paul, Minnesota.  We were ever so fortunate to be in the beautiful and huge conference room of the Northwest Area Foundation with sunshine streaming through its windows wrapping around two walls.  It is tremendously valuable to be in beautiful, comfortable spaces.

Those who are stuck in thinking all should go just as well or even BETTER if activists are more “authentically” stuck in some dank, dark, dreary space need to get over it.  Why do you think the Rockefeller Foundation keeps up that beautiful villa in Bellagio, Italy and uses it as a place of contemplation, reflection, and strategic thinking for scholars and activists it considers worthy of investment?

So, we were in a space conducive to challenging work, and the creative facilitation by Bo Thao-Urabe and Karen Perkins enabled high energy, extraordinarily focused collective thinking throughout the entire convening. The convening engaged the organizational leaders in sharing and reflecting collectively.

As the groups shared their work, I was first struck by what seemed to be a deepening of openness, honesty, self-reflection, and appreciation for the uniqueness of each organization and understanding of the work.  Each group shared a particular challenge now encountered in their work, and then there were thoughtful, respectful, creative responses from the collaborative

Some challenges lifted by these groups are:

• How to create, articulate, write and incorporate gender equity into policies and practices,
• How to approach concerns about “offending” the community,
• Defining who the organization is accountable to, and therefore, how do we pick with whom to collaborate,
• How to manage the risk-taking component in all of this, including approaching a potential partner/collaborator/ally,
• How to align the conversation of the board and leadership, who are focused on organizational level policies and practices, with the more personal conversations within the community,
• How to handle the practical side of transitioning from a “crises center” to an “organizing center,”
• Here’s a project we intend to launch; give us your feedback.

It became clear at this March convening that the OFP groups now owned its share of this space – no longer are they looking to AAPIP for answers; these OFP leaders are creating answers within themselves and among each other.

Then, extraordinary community organizers – Eun Sook Lee, Kori Chen, and Pakou Hang – challenged each member of the OFP to take the risks of launching itself into actual community organizing.  As each OFP member is changing internally, how will they move that change externally into programming, into base-building, into that community base, and ultimately into the larger community and public policy?

The most telling comment upon the transformation already experienced by the OFP members came when a member commented, “This is scary stuff.  I can hear it now, but I couldn’t hear it two years ago. I’ll face much opposition. It’s scary.  Are we willing to take that risk?” 

And the answer of the OFP groups is a resounding “YES!”


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Call to Action: California API groups mobilize for Arizona May 28-29

compiled by Dana Kawaoka-Chen, Capacity Building Manager

The passage of Arizona S.B. 1070–a bill that gives authorization to police officers to stop any person they think is undocumented—last month has prompted national outcry.  Many of the organizations in the National Gender & Equity Campaign’s Organization Fellowship Program are actively involved in efforts to repeal SB 1070 and stand in solidarity with targeted communities in Arizona.

This weekend–May 29, 2010, people of conscience from throughout the United States and Phoenix will march in the tens of thousands to the State Capitol to demand justice in the face of legalized discrimination and hate. They will demand that President Obama stand on the right side of history and take immediate and concrete action to stop SB1070.

At least two API delegations are being organized from California—from the Bay Area and Los Angeles, and there are a number of local actions being planned.  Below, please find more information about how you can get involved:

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2010 Advancing Justice Conference (AAPIs United In Strength) June 23-25 Alexandria, VA

2010 Advancing Justice Conference

Coming up next month!

June 23 – June 25, 2010

“The Advancing Justice Conference is a national civil rights and social justice conference that aims to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders in one place to address a broad range of issues facing the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. It serves as a unique forum where researchers, advocates, direct service providers and other leaders can meet face-to-face, talk about their common challenges and find ways to work collaboratively.

The Advancing Justice Conference is a joint project by the Asian American Institute (Chicago), Asian American Justice Center (Washington, D.C.), Asian Law Caucus (San Francisco) and Asian Pacific American Legal Center (Los Angeles).”

AJC Workshop Tracks include:

Register online by June 2nd for their early bird discount
http://www.advancingjustice.org/2010/registration

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How would organizational effectiveness be different from a social justice movement frame?

Reflections from the 2010 GEO conference from Bo Thao-Urabe, BRIDGE Director about organizational effectiveness using NGEC’s framework.


Social Justice Movement Building diagram

How would organizational effectiveness be different from a social justice movement frame? - By Bo Thao-Urabe, Director, BRIDGE (Building Responsive Infrastructure to Develop Global Equity)

Recently I participated in the Grantmakers for Effective Organizations’ (GEO) national conference.  The participants were mostly people from foundations, but there were some representatives from consulting firms, affinity groups and community nonprofits.  Being a newbie, I chatted with a few participants about why they came.  For most, “organizational effectiveness” of nonprofit groups being funded seemed top of mind.

On a very basic level, organizational effectiveness is a seemingly apolitical term used in the nonprofit sector to demonstrate how successful an organization is in achieving its stated goals.  This has translated into tools and methods that help groups develop measurement units of their work — like demographically naming the population being served, counting the number of people served, and showing the level of satisfaction of those served. But these are very contained, focused, logical, short-term, and absent a worldview.

For me, just using the “organizational effective” paradigm alone misses a more dynamic beginning and evolution of organizations that helps us understand and answer the question of, “So What?”  or “Organizational effectiveness for what?”

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NGEC OFP Peer Learning Session with CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities

http://www.caaav.org/images/global/logo_lg.gifOur latest OFP peer learning call featured Helena Wong from CAAAV:  Organizing Asian Communities.  Helena shared her perspectives and experiences on building collective leadership, cross-generational community involvement in their organization, and their work on intersectional issues in the NYC context.

(We’ll be posting additional insights, reactions and learnings from our guest & participants…  so stay tuned!)

CAAAV was founded by Asian women in 1986 as one of the first to mobilize against anti-Asian violence in NYC.   CAAAV focuses on institutional violence affecting immigrant, poor and working-class communities such as worker exploitation, urban poverty, police brutality, INS detention / deportation, and criminalization of youth…

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OFP Cohort Progress & Learnings – Year One

NGEC JourneyAs part of our ongoing learning and broader community sharing, the NGEC staff is sharing a few key reflections about the 1st year of our capacity building approach, process and tools  from the NGEC  Organizational Fellowship Program cohort.

Knowing that there isn’t “one model” for change, we’re actively documenting the questions, processes and challenges of our cohort that offer “signs of progress.”

See the full text here: http://genderandequity.org/year1ofp

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A roundup of tools and resources!

We’ve recently updated our listing of  some tools and resources  from partners and other nonprofit allies that we think you may find useful.  Browse the full list on our website:  http://genderandequity.org/resources_list or simply click on one of the categories below.


Board Development & Governance
Capacity Building & Strategic Planning
Collaborations & Coalition Building
Community Building & Community Development
Community Organizing
Domestic Violence
Evaluation & Working with Consultants
Facilitation, Forums & Surveys
Fundraising, Grant writing & Budgeting
Gender, Gender Identity, LGBTQ
Immigration & Refugee Issues
Leadership Development & Intergenerational Issues
Media & Communications
Organizational Assessment & Development
Policy Advocacy
Racial Equity & Asset-Based Approaches
Responsive Philanthropy
Social Justice & Movement Building

Sustainability

Technology (for nonprofits)
Theory of Social Change
Trafficking

+ General sites with more resources

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Sample Exercises + Team Activities from NGEC’s Social Justice Capacity Building Program

NGEC OFP’s Sample Exercises and Team Activities

The exercises and activities we list below were initially developed for use in NGEC’s Organizational Fellowship Program with our 12 Asian American partner organizations in Minnesota and California.

Although they represent just a sampling of what we do in our intensive 3-year capacity building program, NGEC shares these resources in the spirit of making them available to wider audiences.

We hope folks find them useful and applicable to other areas of work.  NGEC welcomes and appreciate your feedback as we continue to refine and update these tools as they are tested and adapted by the community.

“Exploring Our Values” Exercise

“Fictional VRC Role Play” Exercise

“Organization Alignment” Exercise

“Organizational Transformation Role Play” Exercise

“Zooming In and Zooming Out” Exercise

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“Fireworks Over Queer Groups’ Participation in Lunar New Year Parade” via Race Wire, Color Lines

Sharing an article from Race Wire about recent events that unfolded around the Lunar New Year Parade in the Vietnamese-American community of Westminster, CA.

Also, a link to a Vietnamese LGBT group for further information and on going updates.

Racewire Blog

Fireworks Over Queer Groups’ Participation in Lunar New Year Parade  by Julianne Hing

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NGEC OFP’s Online Community ~ how we’re using Ning.com

NGEC's Online Learning Community on Ning

NGEC's Online Learning Community on Ning

Since last summer, NGEC’s Organizational Fellowship Program (OFP) members have been participating in an online learning community we started on Ning.com.

With 6 organizations based in California and 6 based in Minnesota in the OFP , NGEC wanted to experiment with ways to bridge the distances through an online accessible space for folks to stay in touch, share information, and conduct peer learning.  Although there were many options out there for social networking platforms (including things like Facebook or customizable platforms like, Elgg) Ning has turned out to be a good choice for us for several reasons: Read the rest of this entry »

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