December 8, 2021 — by Elizabeth McGee
In Summer of 2020, to understand the barriers for success in Action for Racial Justice (ARJ)’s pilot program, ARJ hired LEAP Consulting, to evaluate the pilot program. LEAP met with the team behind ARJ to brainstorm a Theory of Change to articulate the organization’s mission; activities; short-term, intermediate, and long-term outcomes; and vision. This Theory of Change supported the understanding of the pilot’s success by assessing the program’s success in accordance with the outcomes. LEAP collected data from both surveys and interviews with key informants.
Action for Racial Justice’s Mission
ARJ provides the tools and resources to recruit, motivate, and support new voices in the movement to confront and dismantle systematic racism. ARJ first tried this with their pilot program.
Intended Outcomes of ARJ
The learning outcomes of this program is to:
- have participants understand historical and current affairs of racism across social, economic, and government practices and policies;
- recognize alternatives to unjust systems and policies and how to implement them to advance change;
- build community and relationship with fellow participants.
Background about Action for Racial Justice
Action for Racial Justice is a non-profit organization who helps individuals confront and overturn systematic racism and racially inequitable policies. ARJ contributes to the current racial movement by teaching interested individuals in how to contribute to the racial equity movement. Creating several small groups to tackle on problems instead of few large groups. Focusing on community and state efforts while acting as part of a national movement. The program teaches participants about racial history; discusses historic and current effects of racism. Across social, economic, and government practices and policies; and implement practical action plans together.
In partnership with Chicago Community Trust (CCT) ARJ focused this pilot on three racial equity topic areas: fair lending, transit focused development, and redistricting. For this program to succeed, each participant attended a 2-hour orientation to read materials related to the U.S. past events and current events. Each participant was then assigned to a group of 6-8 participants (nicknamed a pod) and a facilitator. To learn, discuss, and build meaningful action plans to advance racial equity and correct policies with racially unjust outcomes.
The findings from this pilot program’s evaluation will be used to inform the next iteration of ARJ’s work. Touched upon everything from: community engagement, technology used, training effectiveness, and organizational operations, staffing and organizational financing.