Theory of Change

Vision

We envision a future where systems are accountable to powerful communities that have been historically oppressed, and nurture our freedom, well-being, dreams, and joy. 

 

Long-Term / Systems-Level Outcomes | Within a Generation

These are placeholders with the assumption that we work with community members to develop the outcomes that are most important to them, similar to what we did during the community-led early childhood education system design process.

 

WEALTH

  1. Increase % of Black and Latinx households living in historically high poverty communities whose children have more wealth than their parents (at a similar age).
  2. Increase % of Black and Latinx households with living wage jobs and/or guaranteed income and/or job guarantee
  3. All descendants of “American” enslaved people and Black folks who live in the United States severely endangered by other forms of racialized violence (i.e. lynchings) and Anti-Black policies (i.e Jim Crow, redlining) begin to experience atonement/reparations  – monetary, healing, and reconciliation. 

 

EDUCATION

  1. Increase % of Black and Latinx children who live in historically high poverty communities who have access to high quality, equitably resourced, K12 public schools that cultivate critical and liberatory thinking. 
  2. Increase % of Black and Latinx children who live in historically high poverty communities who have access to high quality,  equitably resourced, Early Childhood Education (ECE) seats birth through five. 

 

HEALTH

  1. 100% of community members have quality, affordable healthcare. 
  2. Increase % of Black and Latinx families in historically high poverty communities live within walking distance from quality green spaces.
  3. Decrease # of historically high poverty communities that are food deserts (i.e. increase the number of historically high poverty communities that have local access to quality, healthy, affordable food).

 

JUSTICE

  1. 100% of the prison system is abolished and replaced with a restorative/transformative justice system

 

Intermediate / Community-Level Outcomes | Within 5-10 Years & Continues to Grow

ORGANIZED PEOPLE POWER

  1. Increase in voter turnout in local, state, and federal elections among Black and Latinx households in historically high poverty communities.
  2. Increase % of Black and Latinx families who live in historically high poverty communities who are members of organizations and groups that build power to support shifting economic, justice, health, and education systems and outcomes. 
  3. Increase # of Black and Latinx families who attend and engage in school board, Board of Aldermen, County Council, and other meetings of traditional decision makers and influencers that impact economic, justice, health, and education systems and outcomes.

 

POSITIONAL POWER

  1. Increase % of elected and appointed leaders who publicly champion and advance the policy agendas and governance principles developed by Black and Latinx families who live in historically high poverty communities. 

 

ORGANIZED MONEY POWER

  1. All of our target communities are engaged in management of a community-owned fund (with shared revenue from businesses and potentially civil suits) to resource their political and economic goals and wellbeing.
  2. Returns from community-owned funds allocate dollars towards electoral candidates, ballot initiatives, and policy campaigns. 

 

WEALTH

  1. Increase # of living wage jobs created by Black and Latinx businesses in targeted Black and Latinx historically high poverty communities.
  2. Increase # of Black and Latinx community members in priority WEPOWER communities who have ownership in worker-owned or community-owned businesses and local assets such as land. 
  3. Increase in the revenue generated by the community and worker-owned businesses and assets in targeted Black and Latinx historically high poverty communities through purchases made by anchor institutions.

 

NARRATIVE POWER 

  1. Media adopts our changemakers language or framing around policy demands, systems reimagined (i.e. the Playbook), and values. 
  2. Target communities and changemakers have and communicate a shared narrative or framing around policy demands, systems reimagined (i.e. the Playbook), and values. 

 

Immediate / Individual-Level Outcomes/Indicators | Annually

ENTREPRENEURSHIP:

  1. Increase in the number of Black and Latinx entrepreneurs who are aware of: 
    • Where they are in the startup lifecycle.
    • Different entrepreneur support organizations that can support them where they are in the startup lifecycle.
  2. Increase in the number of Black and Latinx entrepreneurs who believe finance (bookkeeping, accounting, taxes, having a business account separate from personal) practices are important.
  3. Increase in the number of Black and Latinx entrepreneurs connected to and supported by entrepreneur support organizations.
  4. Increase in the number of Black and Latinx entrepreneurs who engage in financial practices that support their business health measured by:
    • Number of businesses with bank accounts
    • Number of businesses that engage in monthly-annual bookkeeping
    • Number of businesses that file taxes annually
  5. Increase in the number of Black and Latinx entrepreneurs who increase their revenue and user/customer base.
  6. Increase in the number of Black and Latinx entrepreneurs who access capital, ideally alternative forms of capital.
  7. Increase in the survival rate of Black and Latinx owned companies.
  8. Increase in the number of Black and Latinx entrepreneurs who are employed by their businesses. 
  9. Increase in the number of Black and Latinx entrepreneurs whose businesses become their primary source of income.
  10. Increase in the number of businesses that become worker or community-owned (cooperatives). 

 

PEOPLE AND POSITIONAL POWER:

  1. Increase in the number of families from targeted Black and Latinx communities who live in historically high poverty communities who are members of WEPOWER and WEPOWER Action (Missouri).
  2. Increase in the number of families from targeted Black and Latinx communities who live in historically high poverty communities who are aware of existing inequities that harm their wellbeing. 
  3. Increase in the number of families from targeted Black and Latinx communities who live in historically high poverty communities who understand the root causes of existing inequities that harm their wellbeing.
  4. Increase in the number of families from targeted Black and Latinx communities who believe it’s possible to build collective power to improve their wellbeing / eliminate inequities. 
  5. Increase in the number of families from targeted Black and Latinx communities who believe they have a role to play in building power to transform oppressive systems. [voting, organizing, leadership positions, resource sharing]
  6. Increase in the number of families from targeted Black and Latinx communities who believe healing and restorative experiences can help address trauma and support power building and wellbeing.
  7. Increase in the number of families from targeted Black and Latinx communities who believe elected, appointed, and other positional leaders have an important role to play with achieving policy and systems change.
  8. Increase in the number of families from targeted Black and Latinx communities who believe elected, appointed, and other positional leaders should be accountable to community members (constituents). 
  9. Increase in the number of families from targeted Black and Latinx communities who believe organizing money as a community can help resource the change a community wants to see.
  10. Increase in the number of families from targeted Black and Latinx communities who:
    • Know how to organize
    • Know how to be effective elected and appointed leaders.
    • Know how to design policy solutions.
    • Know how to lead voter education and engagement.
    • Know how to leverage storytelling/public narrative (story of self + story of us + story of now) to build power and organize.
  11. Increase in the number of families from targeted Black and Latinx communities who actively engage in the process of building people power to transform oppressive systems. 
  12. Increase in the number of community members from targeted Black and Latinx communities who actively engage in the process of building positional power to transform oppressive systems
  13. Increase in the number of times there is amplification of a narrative that communicates the communities power, stories, campaigns, and policy demands/solutions.

 

Basic Well-Being:

  1. Increase in the number of families from targeted Black and Latinx communities who live in historically high poverty communities whose basic (education and economic) needs are met. 

 

Assumptions

  1. Communities collective power will transform the system(s) and those that govern/influence it. 
  2. The insider/outsider strategy works best towards the transformation of systems and equitable community and city level outcomes over insiders simply operating in isolation from an organized collective of powerful community members. 
  3. (Oppression is the one-way systematic mistreatment of a defined group of people that is reinforced by society. Oppression can be described as a table that stands up through legs of privilege and internalized superiority and legs of targeted and internalized oppression.) To dismantle oppressive systems, both those in privilege and those who are targeted must play a role. Those who are targeted, in this case, Black and Latinx folks living in historically high poverty communities, experience and act on internalized inferiority and oppression, the destructive patterns of feelings, behaviors, and experiences are often turned inward upon themselves and directed at each other. It is most effective to start by focusing on the parts of the table where one has most control and influence. (When we focus on the work of the other group, this can act to reinforce the table instead of bringing it down. To effectively change the system, each group must develop an understanding that allows them to step outside the role allocated to them by the oppressive society.) A focus on activating Black and Latinx folks living in historically high poverty communities works to support a specific group of targeted folks along their journey of dismantling oppressive systems. This assumes others are also doing work, whether as targets, or privileged, to dismantle oppression. As many groups of targeted and privileged folks do their work including the communities WEPOWER activates, there will be opportunities for solidarity and collective action, while not focusing on the work of the other groups. --Excerpts from NCCJ’s Interrupting Racism Training.
  4. Laws of Power: The three-part – public sector, private sector, and civic sector – model of our municipal and national structures are inherently flawed and do not currently work to ensure all people thrive.
    • Systems are built to be self-perpetuating and designed to do exactly what they are doing now – creating disparities and distress. Thus, systems will fight back against an agenda of change and equity. 
    • Systems are constantly in motion and adapting to preserve their power and intended purposes / protect their self-interest; the only way to dismantle and transform a system is through the force of a movement that is greater than the power of the system times its acceleration.
    • Power, in the world as is, in the United States, traditionally comes from organized people, organized money, and/or people in positions of influence (often elected and governmental).
    • Imbalance among these three sources creates inequitable systems including, but not limited to drawing well-intended leaders into its (politically) corrupt culture.
    • Power is infinite. One group does not have to give up all of its power for another group to activate its own power. While power is infinite, it can be negatively and inequitably distributed. 
    • Power, when most concentrated and wielded by organized people, especially communities negatively experiencing [racialized] systemic [economic] injustices, can transform oppressive systems. When power is most concentrated and wielded by organized people/communities, the public (government) sector and business sector are more effectively held accountable to them. As power increases for communities historically and directly impacted by racial disparities, racial disparities decrease.
  5. Community wants change, to be involved, and to support each other. 
  6. When equipped with the right opportunities, resources, and connections, Black and Latinx founded businesses will grow wealth and support the power building in/of Black and Latinx historically high poverty communities. 
  7. Returns from investments in often highly scalable Black and Latinx founded businesses, managed by Black and Latinx communities, can positively support communities' political and economic goals. 
  8. While relationships will remain a constant building block of power building towards systems transformation, the dynamic, process, and definition of relationship building changes by generation, which will affect how we interact and build relationships. 
  9. Systems are interlocking and interdependent. 
  10. The pervasiveness of oppression – racism, classism – is traumatizing and harmful to not only the social and physical but also mental and emotional wellbeing of families. Part of power building and the transformation of systems must involve intentional spaces for healing and restoration.

Values

We are stewards of justice and equity. We believe all people have value and we bear a faithful responsibility to create systems that nurture our lives, rather than destroy them.

 

We dream big and dare boldly. We are unapologetic about thinking and looking forward. We are co-creators of a radically different world, and we begin our journey with envisioning that world.

 

We are more powerful together. We activate the inherent potential that exists in Black and Latinx communities. The more we tap into our collective power, the stronger our movement becomes.

 

We are abolitionists. We recognize that there’s no such thing as reforming white supremacy, and that getting free requires systems rooted in racism to be reimagined and rebuilt from the ground up, led by historically oppressed communities.

 

We produce wins that matter. We put the mission first and take ownership to generate transformative solutions where our communities win. When communities win, the organization wins.

 

We create beloved community. We cultivate collectivity every day, give compassion and grace to all people, and make everyone feel like each place where our organization lives is a safe space where they belong.

 

We believe education is a practice of freedom. We continuously listen and learn with humility, facilitate a learning process that anyone can access, and in a way that liberates an individual and the collective.

 

We believe accountability is non-negotiable. We are committed to a process of becoming better teammates and leaders for each other and for our communities. And while we are accountable to all communities that have been endangered and denied power, our work centers around Black and Latinx communities.

 

We are tough on problems and soft on people. We approach challenges with a disciplined balance of emphasis on an issue and empathic warmth for a person.

 

We are joyful and full of pride. We find ways to create joy and laughter amidst life’s everyday chaos, and take pride in the resilience, history, potential, and brilliance that exist in the communities with whom we partner.

 

Problem

Historically and currently, who holds/activates power and how power is used sustains systems ability to perpetuate and often grow racial disparities, which limits many communities' opportunity to thrive. (Reference data points such as the Equity Indicators.) 

Those who directly experience the negative impacts of racial disparities, including historically high poverty Black and Latinx communities, (due to oppression and oppressive systems) have been prevented from building a movement that is greater than the power of the system times its acceleration, to dismantle existing systems and design new systems to ensure all communities thrive and eradicate racial disparities

 

ECE K12 Wealth
  • Of the 89,000 children ages 0-5, current child care providers only have the capacity to serve, approximately 47,000 of them.
  • Only 5% of centers and homes are accredited.
  • $1.3 billion annual gap in funding.
  • By grade 3 (approx. age 8), ELA proficiency rates are nearly 40% points lower among Black students than White students in both St. Louis County and SLPS.
  • In SLPS, 78.52% of SLPS students identify as Black, yet Black students only make up 35.92% of some of the most selective and high-performing schools. 
  • Students score almost a full grade level below districts with similar socioeconomic profiles. 
  • 44% of Black children in St. Louis live in poverty compared to 11% of white children.
  • 24% of SLPS students are homeless.
  • Unemployment rate for Black residents is 13.1% compared to 2.7% for white residents.

 

Target Population

  • Priority 1: Black and Latinx community members living below the poverty line in historically high poverty communities ready to lead change.
  • Priority 2: Black and Latinx community members in historically high poverty communities ready to lead change.
  • Black and Latinx entrepreneurs of for-profit early-stage high growth/potential companies that can create living wage jobs and who are committed to building and sharing economic power with historically Black and Latinx high poverty communities. 

 

Mission

We activate community power to redesign education, economic, health, and justice systems to be just and equitable for all. 

 

Our Four Strategies

1. Strategy: Catalyze authentic relationships and connections with everyday people...

to surface needs and dreams, identify changemakers and entrepreneurs, and make connections to partners who can support their opportunity to thrive through...

    • Sub-strategy: Create spaces and places for relationships, connections, and power building.
    • Sub-strategy: Coordinate continuous two-way communication with community members in the form of community gatherings, one-on-one meetings, door knocking, phone banking, and text messages. 
    • Sub-strategy: Engage in healing and reconciliation.

2. Strategy: Activate a movement of community members and new organizers, policy, and public leaders...

to drive the creation of new social  systems...

    • Sub-strategy | Ongoing: Grow a massive membership base and join intersectional coalitions in support of Playbooks’ visions and solutions and collective community wellbeing.
    • Sub-strategy | Phase 1: Reimagine systems reflected in Playbooks. (Tomorrow Builders Fellowship)
    • Sub-strategy | Phase 2: Organize on the outside to advance Playbooks’ visions and solutions through voter engagement and/or direct action issue-based campaigns. (Power Building Academy) 
    • Sub-strategy | Phase 2: Organize on the inside to advance Playbooks’ visions and solutions through holding, leveraging, and sharing the power of elected and appointed positions. (Chislholm’s Chair Fellowship)

3. Strategy: Accelerate community-owned wealth building

to drive wealth owned by Black and Latinx communities instead of extracted from communities through...

    • Sub-strategy: Support the scale and sustainability of high potential companies committed to our priority communities through the Elevate/Elevar business Accelerator and ecosystem alignment
    • Sub-strategy: Build communities capacity to invest in *values-aligned high growth companies, have democratic ownership of assets like land and businesses, and manage returns/revenue to resource political, social, and economic change. 

*committed to community-owned and worker-owned business structures and hiring from historically high poverty Black and Latinx communities 

 

4. Strategy: Shape narratives... 

to further shift beliefs and behaviors through...

    • Sub-strategy: Changemakers, entrepreneurs, and communities amplify their stories of: experiences with the current systems, dreams/possibilities, joy, and beliefs, solutions and demands, their journey towards achieving change and the wins along the way.
    • Sub-strategy: Build capacity of community members to publish and leverage policy toolkits and reports to communicate the solutions demanded by WEPOWER communities for decision makers, influencers, and other communities demanding/who want to demand change. 

Sub-strategy: Measure and celebrate communities' continuous increase in power as measured by the Power Index.