Thursday, September 24, 2015

Black-Led Social Change Organizations: Your Input is Needed

A national survey is currently identifying the broad range of Black-led social change organizations in the United States with the goal of catalyzing significant local and national change. Led by Kevin Ryan, a program director at the New York Foundation, the survey project is the result of a series of meetings with Black organizers, activists, and thought-leaders that focused on building local, regional, and national organizing, community and civic engagement, and social change activities in Black communities.

According to Ryan, although there has been some anecdotal evidence on Black-led organizing work, a comprehensive effort to identify the broad ecosystem of Black-led organizations that are using community organizing, community building, and other social change strategies to transform and support Black lives has not been conducted. He states, “this ecosystem research will not only provide information about how Black-led organizations work with their communities to positively impact their lives, but the research can also help grantmakers, donors, and other supporters understand the best ways to champion these organizations and communities.”

With generous support from Black Organizers for Leadership and Dignity, New York Foundation, Neighborhood Funders Group, and the Association of Black Foundation Executives, the national survey aims to gather more comprehensive information from these organizations. To date, more than 1,600 organizations have been identified and more are needed from grassroots activist groups, churches, fraternities, sororities, schools, and any other Black-led organizations that are involved in social change work.

Below are helpful definitions to identify Black-led organizations and the survey link to get started:

Black-led: Organizations that are Black-led are defined as having 50 percent or more of its board of directors (or some other governing body if the organization does not have 501(c)(3) tax exempt status), staff, AND members or constituents who identify themselves as Black.

Organizing and social change: Organizations engaging in community building or engagement activities such as creating opportunities for broad community participation; pushing racial equity strategies; lifting culture, history, and healing as a central component of their social change work; and integrating other strategies, including community development, activism, and human services to bring communities together and establish trust.

Types of organizations: Groups that have 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) tax exempt status as well as activist groups that provide informal services, rally community members around local issues, and have built strong relationships and trust in their communities but do not have official nonprofit status. This could include civic associations, coalitions or alliances, activist spaces, projects of faith based organizations, and other formations.

Black: For this project, all African-American, Caribbean, Afro-Latino, and African led social change organizations that fit the broad organizing and social change, leadership, and institution definitions.

Visit the Black Social Change Survey link at

For more information, contact Kevin Ryan at kryan[at]

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