Front cover of the report featuring three images of diverse groups of people participating in civic engagement efforts
Social Movements and Governing Power

December 2011

By Jennifer Ito, Barbara Masters, Rhonda Ortiz, and Manuel Pastor

Funded by The California Endowment

Please note: reports dated earlier than June 2020 were published under our previous names: the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) or the USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII).

We often proudly proclaim that our system is “one person, one vote,” but many are disenfranchised and even more are disillusioned. The U.S. Census is among the most democratic of our institutions: in the once-a-decade count, everyone is important and everyone is equal—and getting where they live right is written into our Constitution. The efforts to make sure that the “hard-to-count” are included in the official count are the same sets of skills that can repair our ailing political system.

Beyond the Count: Leveraging the 2010 Census to Build New Capacities for Civic Engagement and Social Change in California, a new report from USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) and funded by The California Endowment (TCE), looks at how California Counts—the coordinated, statewide strategy itself—built and strengthened capacities to engage disenfranchised Californians beyond the count.

Many organizations leveraged the census as an opportunity to practice new outreach strategies, lift up other issues of concern to key constituencies, and lay the groundwork for new alliances. After all, many of the methods for increasing the count—canvassing, phoning, media events, and one-on-one education—are the same for mobilizing residents around electoral or policy campaigns. It also represented an extraordinary moment in which foundations modeled what they often call upon their grantees to do: collaborate, align efforts, and maximize impact.

Beyond the Count looks at California Counts as a study for what a social movement frame can achieve: make progress on immediate issues while planting seeds for longer-term, larger-scale change. While policy solutions are needed, lasting change will come when there is a deeply rooted movement that can help shape policy solutions and improve the prospects for California’s most vulnerable residents. Going beyond the count to what really counts—an engaged public that can change the trajectory of the Golden State—is critical.

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Read our other publications by research area

    Immigrant Integration & Racial Justice

    Our work on immigrant integration and racial justice brings together three emphases: scholarship that draws on academic theory and rigorous research, data that provides information structured to highlight the process of immigrant integration over time, and engagement that seeks to create new dialogues with government, community organizers, business and civic leaders, immigrants and the voting public to advance immigrant integration and racial equity.

    Economic Inclusion & Climate Equity

    In the area of economic inclusion, we at ERI advance academic theory and practical applications linking economic growth, environmental quality, and civic health with bridging of racial and other gaps; produce accessible and actionable data and analysis through the data tools; and establish research partnerships to deepen and advance the dialogue, planning, and actions around racial equity, environmental justice, and the built environment.

    Social Movements & Governing Power

    ERI’s work in the area of governing power includes: conducting cross-disciplinary studies of today’s social movements, supporting learning and strategizing efforts to advance dialogues among organizers, funders, intermediaries, evaluators, and academics, and developing research-based social change frameworks and tools to inform—and be informed by—real-world, real-time efforts towards a vision of deep change.

    Publications Directory

    In 2020, the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) and the USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII) merged to form the USC Equity Research Institute (ERI).

    The full list of publications published under our previous and current names can be found in our publications directory.

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