From 2008 to 2019, the USC Equity Research Institute (ERI) published reports under our previous name, the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE). 

A Pivot to Power: Lessons from The California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities about Place, Health, and Philanthropy

March 2018

By Jennifer Ito, Manuel Pastor, May Lin, and Magaly Lopez

A Pivot to Power: Lessons from The California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities about Place, Health, and Philanthropy offers a mid-initiative assessment of TCE’s 10-year investment in building “people power” capacity in 14 diverse communities. The report is based on surveys from grantees funded to organize in one or more of the 14 sites receiving grants through BHC and interviews with organizers, funders, intermediaries, and academics. The data is clear: There is evidence of increased capacity in BHC places to organize people who are usually excluded from the policymaking process such as documented and undocumented immigrants, young people, formerly incarcerated individuals, and LGBTQ individuals.

Through campaigns, they are developing their voice, leadership, and advocacy skills to influence neighborhood, local, regional, and statewide decision-making processes.

At the halfway mark, TCE has taken a bolder stance on people power. What had been considered a driver of change is now the change that it seeks to achieve. This report offers a discussion of what it means to pivot to people power as an end goal. And since the change in BHC is not intended to stay within BHC, this report offers three lessons for other comprehensive change initiatives, the health equity field, and philanthropy.

Key lessons to pivot to power:

LESSON #1: Place is a scale for change—not just a stage for change.

LESSON #2: Health equity is an opportunity to build power—not just pass policy.

LESSON #3: Building power is about power among, to, with, and within—not power over.

Download report

Sustaining People Power

March 2018

By Jennifer Ito, Manuel Pastor, May Lin, and Magaly Lopez

Adapted from A Pivot to Power, the Sustaining People Power brief summarizes the organizing capacity supported by BHC and identifies key challenges and recommendations for sustaining capacity based on interviewee insights. Some of the recommendations drawn from A Pivot to Power and lessons for the fields of philanthropy public health, and organizing include:

  • Continue funding grassroots organizing and leadership development
  • Measure campaigns in how they build people power
  • Create opportunities for new organizing groups to partner with experienced organizers
  • Support experimentation to build alternative sources of funding

At a time when national organizations are pivoting to state-based strategies to move to a justice agenda, the lessons learned from TCE’s funding initiative can help set the stage for the next phase of investment in organizing and health equity.

Download report

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.

    a view of the Los Angeles skyline