End the duopoly

Assessing Social Justice Programs


When developing funding proposals for social justice programs, grant professionals tend to frame success in terms of direct impact on public policy. While changes in laws are often essential, focusing myopically on that result overlooks changes at the community level that drive legislative reform and that reach deep into our lives and result in lasting cultural change.

“Identifying the specific social-change outcomes you hope to achieve is challenging,” said Barbara Floersch, chief of training and curriculum of The Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles, Calif. “But it’s critical that the outcomes you propose accurately reflect your organization’s values and views along with an understanding of how social change works.”

In 2002, Deborah L. Puntenney, Ph.D., wrote Measuring Social Change Investments , a seminal paper which documents research she conducted for the Women’s Funding Network. Puntenney acknowledges the common opinion that the goal of social change grants is to directly impact public policy, but concludes that history does not support that viewpoint. “Measuring outcomes only in terms of broad social change such as legislative change diminishes the importance of the many investments that comprise the groundwork for large scale change,” she wrote. In other words, change in legislation alone won’t cut it — […]

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