Participatory Research & Policy

Local groups are the experts on what their communities need to thrive.

Our work helps community voices be heard at the policy level: We partner with organizing groups on research projects and policy analysis to document problems, formalize issues for policy-makers, and help move campaigns forward.

We use a participatory action research model where organizers and members participate in every stage of a project. Many research organizations are disconnected from the grassroots and not in close collaboration with community organizations. As a result, much of the research and policy work on critical issues such as workers’ rights, immigration and housing is done without the input of impacted communities. In contrast, our community partners are centered as experts, trained in research techniques, and get the information they need to power their own organizing.

The Research for Organizing interactive toolkit and website is central to our work. This resource includes tools, templates, facilitation guides and case studies for Participatory Action Research projects: everything from research design and data collection to how to write and release a research report.

Our direct work with community organizations includes:

  • Research Partnerships to Strengthen Organizing: Organizing is the foundation of our projects. We work in partnership with community groups to design, administer, analyze and write participatory action research reports. For example, many groups aim to document and formalize issues in the eyes of their targets and stakeholders; we work together to identify what research will best serve them. Then we help coordinate and guide the project with the organization’s goals, priorities and leadership always at the center.
  • Training: Rather than exclude organizations from the “how” of research work, we train organizers and community members to conduct, understand and use research. We use a train-the-trainer model so that these skills can then be shared within communities. Trainings include: designing research instruments such as surveys or focus group guides, conducting research, entering data, developing findings, creating policy recommendations, and more.
  • Strategic Campaign Research: We conduct background research and develop fact sheets to provide strategic data for organizing campaigns. Our partners use these materials in leadership development and base-building and to educate elected and government officials about specific issues and campaigns.
  • Action: Our reports are not designed to sit on a shelf. Our research helps groups move their targets, advance legislative campaigns, garner press coverage, and more. We provide support for strategic report releases and media engagement, which serve as a launching point for our partners’ campaigns.

Our Work

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