PERE Publications on Social Movements and Governing Power > USC Equity Research Institute (ERI) > USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences


The California Endowment (TCE) – Organization of assessments

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 Initiative on Place, Health, and Philanthropy offers a mid-term evaluation of TCE’s 10-year investment in building ‘people power’ capacities in 14 diverse communities. The report is based on surveys of 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 typically excluded from the policy-making process, such as documented and undocumented immigrants, young people, people formerly incarcerated and LGBTQ people. Through campaigns, they develop their voice, leadership, and advocacy skills to influence neighborhood, local, regional, and statewide decision-making processes.

Halfway through, TCE took a bolder stance on the power of people. What had been considered a driver change is now the change he seeks to achieve. This report offers a discussion of what it means to pivot to people power as an end goal. And since BHC’s change is not meant to stay within BHC, this report offers three lessons for other global change initiatives, the field of health equity and philanthropy.

Adapted from A pivot to power, the Maintain the power of the people brief summarizes the organizational capacity supported by BHC and identifies key challenges and recommendations for maintaining capacity based on information from interviewees. Some of the recommendations from A Pivot to Power and lessons for philanthropy, public health and organizing include:

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

Download and read A Pivot to Power>>

Download and read Sustaining People Power>>


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