Team: Sonia Sarkar, Jane Booth-Tobin, Ryann Schutt, Alexandra Dildine, Melanie Brazzell, Elizabeth McKenna 

Key Question: How do movement organizations engage members in an ongoing civic engagement process that has potential to affect broader systems-change and build power?

Research Products: 


The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), in partnership with the P3 Lab at Johns Hopkins University, established the Social Homes and Civic Engagement project in 2020 to reveal how organizations develop their constituents’ collective capabilities to achieve power and change societal conditions for health equity. In particular, this project sought to uncover the ways a set of 13 movement organizations across the United States built spaces for their constituencies that cultivated their capacity to engage in civic action — forming, what we have termed here, a “social home.”

This research and peer-learning initiative aimed to establish high-level, preliminary insights on the creative, multitudinous, and specific ways in which these organizations are working with their members to build social homes. We explore whether organizations strengthening this internal fabric makes them better equipped to wield long-term power that contributes to — but is not dependent on — the next voter turnout effort or campaign win. In partnership with the organizations in this cohort and RWJF, we identified the following research questions:

  1. How do movement organizations design and operationalize the collective capabilities that comprise their social homes?
  2. How do these design choices relate to organizational efforts to build the power necessary to change conditions for health equity?
  3. How can movement organizations learn from one another’s work on social homes – and what should a future learning and practice agenda be for the field? 

We explore our overall findings in the project report as well as in a series of case studies and organizational profiles that are found below. 

Case Studies 

Shifting Power by Sharing Power: A Case Study of Relational Organizing in Saint Paul, MN (ISAIAH) 

Practicing Internal Democracy to Build Potential Power: A Case Study of Electoral Strategy in Kentucky (Kentuckians for the Commonwealth) 

Black Joy as Power: A Case Study of National Organizing Strategy (Color of Change)

Selection of Organizational Profiles

California Calls

Chhaya Community Development

Florida Rising

Make the Road New York

New Virginia Majority

Organization for Black Struggle  

People's Action

Southwest Organizing Project

Texas Organizing Project