OrganizingPlace-Based Organizing | IDEA

Place-Based Organizing

The Need

From IDEA’s first powerpoint pitch, we’ve articulated and used visuals to describe our relationship to an emerging movement and need for a more powerful network that is politically powerful and coherent.

IDEA's Approach

IDEA is focused on connecting “early adopters,” changemakers, and skilled connectors who share our values and want to connect across different strategies and silos. We particularly focus on weaving together young people, parents, educators, school leaders, union and foundation leaders, and media covering education. We do this through building relationships both with individual connections and existing networks and organizations with explicit attention given to working with historically marginalized leaders, organizations, and communities.

Place-Based Organizing and partnership efforts currently take place in Puerto Rico, Vermont, Oregon, Jackson, Minnesota, Boston, Milwaukee, NOLA, and Little Rock. The levels of engagement in each place differ based on what relationships and networks existed previously, the capacities of each organizing team, IDEA's organizational strengths and limits, and the specific context of each place.
 
Place-Based Teams are and can be set up in areas where there is a lot moving as it pertains to democratic education, however, there is a desire for a team that is going to focus and strategize together in efforts to connect the dots across their cities and states.  These teams consist of and are led by local organizers who work with the IDEA staff to build strategies that will help push the needle by highlighting and making visible the learnings and traction around democratic education. Each team consists of a Senior Fellow, as the lead organizer, and a Storyteller, who captures and records the stories and learnings over the year. The IDEA Staff works with the place-based team in fund raising efforts to support their work through the team's ‘capacity to act fund'. These teams engage in regular virtual meetings and exchanges, via conference call, skype, or google hangout, that help them in supporting, sharing, and learning about each other's work across the country. Below are the Role Descriptions and Benefits for both the Senior Fellow and Storyteller.

Goals

Build and amplify a powerful network of community organizers and educational leaders who are actively confronting and transforming the immense challenges facing education in the United States and Puerto Rico today. 

Why Organizing?

IDEA recognizes the amazing array of people, communities, and organizations that do important movement building work on the ground everyday. The goal of our organizing efforts is to make connections across and between those groups. We believe that working with organizers and connectors who are already doing the work creates better access to salient knowledge and strengthens coherence that helps build social and political influence for everyone engaged in this evolving network. We are particularly focused on weaving together young people, parents, educators, school leaders, union and foundation leaders, and media covering education who are in alignment with our values. We do this through building relationships both with individual connections and existing networks and organizations with explicit attention given to working with historically marginalized leaders, organizations, and communities.
 
We play side by side with groups and promote connections between and across other place-based organizing efforts and networks. We present our interpretation of how transformative educational change happens and work to assist groups to have more influence across four drivers of change (Policy, Practice, Public Narrative, and Strategy) and to experience what could happen when we all work together to weave local work and movement across the local and national educational landscape. 
 
We think about the various approaches or groupings of actors and networks in a few different ways. One way is by the "frame" or philosophical roots of efforts like:
 
  • Place-based education
  • Social justice education and organizing
  • Education for sustainability
  • Social emotional learning
  • Systems thinking
  • Youth power, voice, and democracy

Another way we’ve organized our work is by focusing on the groups of people we touch and whose changes in relationship, actions, behaviors, and attitudes we want to cause. These “partners-in-change” groups are:

  • Youth
  • Parents
  • Educators
  • School Leaders
  • Community Leaders and Organizations
  • Unions, Foundations, and Policymakers\
  • Media

And a another way to conceptualize our work is around the issues of the day. This includes:

  • Common Core
  • School Choice: Charters and Vouchers
  • School to Prison Pipeline
  • Corporatization
  • High Stakes Testing
  • Race to the Top
  • NCLB

Each of the conceptualizations above makes certain people, groups, organizations, and networks more or less visible. In thinking about our organizing and networking efforts, a focus on social capital seems to pull a thread creating more coherence. Social capital does not necessarily mean having organizational connections, but it does mean that people or organizations have strong connections that can create traction or momentum when engaged.

Resources

Senior Fellow Role Description
Storyteller Role Description