Manuel Pastor, Jennifer Ito, and Rachel Rosner
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).
With Occupy Wall Street grabbing headlines, many have wondered: Is this a moment or a movement, a passing fad or the start of something big, and is there even a way to tell the difference?
Transactions – Transformations – Translations: Metrics That Matter for Building, Scaling, and Funding Social Movements, a report from USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE), provides an evaluative framework and key milestones to gauge movement building. Aiming to bridge the gap between the field of community organizing that relies on the one-on-one epiphanies of leaders and the growing philanthropic emphasis on evidence-based giving, the report stresses three main insights.
The first is that any good set of movement metrics should capture quantity and quality, numbers and nuance, transactions and transformations. They are related—an energized leader with a clear power analysis (a transformative measure) may turn out more members for a coalition rally (a transactional measure)—and the report offers a matrix that weaves together both types of metrics across ten different movement-building strategies.
The second is that a movement is more than one organization—and if the whole is to be greater than the sum of its parts, we must measure accordingly. While the report includes measures of success at the organizational level, it attempts to move beyond and focus on whether groups can align and work together to create a more powerful force for social change—suggesting that in the same way that movements need to scale up to face the challenges of our times, metrics, too, must expand to capture the whole.
The third is that metrics must be co-created, not imposed. Recognizing the gravity of the times and hoping to gauge their effectiveness, movement builders are eager to come up with a common language and framework for themselves—and are developing the tools and capacities to do so. The report suggests that the funder-grantee relationship can build on this wisdom in the field and develop a set of evaluative measures that are not onerous requirements but tools for mutual accountability.
The report also offers a set of recommendations to funders and the field, ranging from practical steps (like building a new toolbox of measures, improving the capacity to use them, and documenting innovation and experimentation) to more far-reaching suggestions about leadership development, the connection of policy outcomes with broader social change, and the need to generate movement-level measures. We, at USC PERE, hope this report contributes to a conversation about how to best capture transformations as well as transactions in social movement organizing, and how to build the broader public and philanthropic support necessary to realize the promise of a more inclusive America.
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.
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.