From the important building blocks of board development, and financial management to strategic communications and advocacy training, Eisenhower Foundation provides significant capacity building to grassroots organizations working with young people, ex offenders, labor and within low income communities. Eisenhower marries its successful programmatic work with a salient policy voice to advance the principles expressed in the Kerner Commission that our society must embrace “multiple solutions to multiple problems replicated to the scale of the problem.”
Eisenhower Foundation has conducted over two decades of scientific evaluation of programs that offer successful solutions to poverty and dislocation. The Foundation draws on that extensive experience to strengthen organizations at both the policy and programmatic level.
The Foundation's publication Lessons from the Street: Capacity Building and Replication is based on street level experience helping grassroots organizations and partnerships build capacity.
Strategic Communications Training
Most agree that our national policy debate is critically in need of new narratives and frames to contrast with the dominant theme of individualism that so controls the landscape of our national conversation. Advancing policy within the frame of the common good, a society of mutual responsibility and public morality will lead to dramatically different policy conclusions. Strategic communications training equips trainees with both the inside information on how to secure media coverage and message training – replete with cameras – that allow participants to practice their message in a variety of typical media situations and trains them to stay on message, set the parameters for the debate and not be diverted.
Ex offenders, their families and immediate circle of influence represent a potentially powerful voice in key states. Eisenhower is helping those previously incarcerated from across the country come together to forge national strategies that can begin to create a politically influential voice. The Foundation also provides the media training to help shape and disseminate those messages. For more information on the latest national gathering click here.
Youth are a potentially strategic and powerful factor. During the presidential election of 2004, young people were the only demographic whose turnout increased substantially (up by 4.5 million). Despite this potential ability to shape the national debate on issues, young people are largely voiceless in the policy discourse.
Eisenhower has begun an initiative “Youth Voices Now” that will empower a youth voice and agenda and bring it more visibly into the policy discourse. The effort galvanizes grassroots youth groups from select states, provides significant strategic communications training, policy education based on Patriotism Democracy and Common Sense and capacity building to increase their knowledge of organizational development, advocacy and mobilizing tools.
Financial Management and Board Development
Eisenhower staff offers organizational development to strengthen the non profits involved in replicating proven programs. The expertise of Eisenhower staff is shared with groups to assist them in forging effective boards. Financial management helps organizations institute sound management polices that can withstand scrutiny and maximize efficiency. Organizational development assists groups in structuring successful management teams. Fundraising training helps organizations sustain their operations even as the Foundation advocates for a government that provides financial support and allows the non profits to focus on implementing the solutions.
Influencing the Policy Debate
There is an important link between replicating programs and advancing the policy prescriptives that can solve the systemic racial and economic inequality that afflicts our nation. The Foundation holds two kinds of forums to spark a national conversation about government and its role in advancing the public good within the framework of public morality.
The foundation develops forums that reach opinion leaders, policy wonks, fellow academicians and other similar audiences that are in a position to influence the policy debate. A forum held in cooperation with Century Foundation on Patriotism, Democracy, and Common Sense highlighted many of the policy frames on foreign and domestic policy that the foundation advocates as “policies that work”. The repeated airing on CSpan assured that it influenced the thinking of thousands of individuals, estimated at over 70 million who are largely politically active in someway.
A second forum that paid tribute to Father Geno Baroni included leading figures from faith communities as well as secular heads of liberal non profits, and former high ranking government officials. It advanced the prescient vision of Father Baroni who advocated public morality as the barometer with which to judge social and economic policy. Eisenhower’s ability to attract CSpan coverage and other media outlets, assures that the message of public morality is delivered to a large audience at a time when the political dialog is dominated by a private morality frame in sprite of the tragedies of war, poverty, and the inequality in our nation so dramatically reflected in the horror of hurricane Katrina.
Taking it to the Streets
Another kind of forum brings the voice of those most impacted by the policies we abhor into the policy discourse. Colloquially coined “the Cincinnati Model”, this forum brings grassroots advocacy organizations together to discuss policy guided by Patriotism, Democracy and Common Sense. The forums are customized around issues of concern to the local groups and are followed by capacity building that includes training in strategic communications and advocacy. This message development ultimately can lead to higher impact as many voices from different states, sectors and organizations are raised in unison around policy issues from the perspective of public morality. The first Cincinnati forum was held upstairs from a homeless shelter and included approximately 100 people actively involved in advocating for low cost housing, health care and other policies to redress poverty. There was also significant participation from ex offenders, part of a program associated with Delancey Street, to incorporate civic engagement as an integral component of reentry.
By forging a message consensus and frame while providing real capacity
building for potentially strategic and often disenfranchised sectors of
the U.S. public, Eisenhower hopes to significantly increase the progressive
infrastructure that can lead to reshaping the prevailing American ethos.
While many Americans already accept concepts like equality of opportunity
and the public good, those values have largely faded from the policy equations
of our government and must be restored.