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shifting power

Communities of color have been systematically denied access to power. This includes power derived from organizing people, information and money. We recognize that organized power changes systems and systems must be reimagined and restructured to create more equity and justice. To do so, we use an organizing framework to shift power, so communities of color are self-defined and self-determined and systems are designed to ensure equity and justice for all.

Co-creating a just new world, requires a collective understanding of power and privilege and a willingness to shift power for the greater collective good. To do so, we root each engagement in an analysis of power and privilege, mutually agreed-upon values, and a vision for the work we will achieve together. To analyze power, we employ an intersectional framework, grounded in an understanding of race as an exponential multiplier of oppression and inequity. We also examine the implications of gender, sexuality, nationality, ability, age and class as drivers of inequity.

We understand that “power concedes nothing without a demand” (Fredrick Douglas) and shifting power requires risk and exponential growth. We commit ourselves to the co-creation of a radically just new world where communities of color thrive, because as Assata Shakur reminds us “we have nothing to lose but our chains.”

"converge uses an organizing framework to shift power so communities of color are self-defined & self-determined"
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our work

Racial & Intersectional Equity

Racial and Intersectional Equity (RISE) is a core service at Converge. We developed an assessment, training and implementation development process that is rooted in our values. Converge supports organizations, public agencies, corporations and foundations seeking to deepen their organizational knowledge and commitment to Racial and Intersectional Equity.

We conduct in-depth organizational assessments to facilitate the creation of customized Racial and Intersectional Equity organizational commitments and measurable action plans. We provide customized training and curriculum, as well as coaching and strategy development to support implementation.

Case Studies

Strategic Planning

Strategic planning at Converge seeks to operationalize the elements described in our approach and methodology. This process involves three phases: (1) Research & Discovery, (2) Vision-Building Retreat and (3) Strategic Plan Development. A key element of the strategic planning process is the creation of a Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) composed of staff, board members and potentially also key organizational partners. Referenced in our approach, one of our first tasks with the SPC is to identify the definitions for success for both the planning process and the final strategic plan.

Though Converge is an expert in our strategic planning process, we recognize the SPC as the experts of the organization and seek to engage the SPC for guidance and thought partnership throughout the process. Converge provides strategy coaching to CEOs, Executive Directors and senior staff. Each strategy coaching engagement is customized based on specific needs. It can be structured around a particular outcome or based on an on-going strategy thought-partnership agreement.

Case Studies

Board Development

Board development has been one of our key organizational development services at Converge. We help design clients’ organizational governance structure so that aboard not only undertakes their role more effectively but integrates the lens of racial equity into its functioning. Examples include clients’ requests to create or re-design the infrastructure and culture of nonprofit or philanthropic organization’s boards.

There are also needs to design and build a racial equity and inclusion committee. More specifically, this committee operationalizes the organization’s Racial Equity and Inclusion (REI) framework. Its duties include (1) monitoring application of REI in internal decisions about resources including vendors, pay and benefits, leadership development, hiring and board development, (2) conducting REI impact assessments for external work including program areas, partner relationships, advocacy strategies, and legal strategies, and (3) advising the Board’s annual work plan.

Case Studies

Convening Development

Converge facilitates strategic collaboration and builds values-centered leaders to mobilize action. We do so through the creation and implementation of large single or multi-day in-person/virtual convenings, retreats, team-building sessions, workshops and training. Converge-facilitated convenings help clients engage with local communities through deep listening, real-time learning, and two-way conversations. Our convening service also helps clients build up their network by connecting with key stakeholders in the field of racial justice. 

Our convening portfolio includes, for example, quarterly philanthropic convening for the Greater New Orleans Funders Network, the American Civil Liberties Union’s Southern Collective convening, AMA’s Release the Pressure campaign, and Louisianians for Reproductive Freedom.

Case Studies

Custom Initiatives

This is the most customized one among all service lines at Converge. It is built on all preceding practices and may have overlapping pieces with service lines such as R.I.S.E., strategic planning, board development, convening development, etc. Custom initiatives blend a variety of these services and tools. 

Custom initiatives projects often include policy campaigns, public issues campaigns, fund development and planning, etc. Depending on the purpose of the initiative, Converge staff co-create with client leads on the overall goals, staffing, strategies, and implementation. Converge provides ongoing project management that supports each of the step.

Case Studies

Coalition Management

Our coalition development projects often involve multiple organizations and partners of interest, and the goal is to form shared goals and strategies. The overall expectation for such projects is to create a container or space for multiple organizations to build an agenda and governance structure for the purpose of achieving a certain collective interest. 

Converge facilitators can skillfully and masterfully create a “third space” for multiple organizations and facilitate the conversation by emphasizing that all players at this table are equals. Our past clients under the service category of coalition management include the Greater New Orleans Funders Network, the American Medical Association’s Release the Pressure Campaign and the Louisiana Coalition for Reproductive Freedom.

Case Studies

Landscape Scan Research

Converge uses a landscape scan method to better understand a certain social justice infrastructure for the purpose of strengthening it. This “landscape” or “field” can be a geographical one or a particular area. We use this tool to identify the needs, opportunities and gaps as well as to guide strategies and decisions. Depending on the project, research methods include surveys, interviews, focus groups, etc.

Mapping the social justice infrastructure includes addressing this first research question: (1) Who are current and emerging key players in the landscape by state, (2) what do we know about the leadership, scope and reach of these key players, (2) what are the relationships between these players and the context of that relationship, (3) what existing literature and reports already map and/or analyze components of the social justice infrastructure, and (4) what is the context of doing work in this area.

Case Studies

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American Civil Liberties Union

Converge supports the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) with the development of infrastructure to organize its southern affiliates and develop regional strategies for criminal legal reform, voting rights and access and reproductive freedom.

American Medical Association

Converge coordinates a multi-institutional collaborative for the Release the Pressure Campaign (RTP) to engage 1 million Black-Americans in a 3-year campaign focused on reducing hypertension and related health disparities in the African American community. RTP coalition partner-organizations include ESSENCE magazine, the American Medical Association, American Medical Association Foundation, the National Medical Association, and the Association for Black Foundation Executives.

Greater New Orleans Funders Network

Converge developed and manages the Greater New Orleans Funders Network, a collaborative that has grown to include 34 local and national funders focused on advancing equity and justice in Southeast Louisiana. Over the past two years, this group has made more than $3.5 million in coordinated grants focused on advancing equity and justice in New Orleans.

Funders for LGBTQ Issues

Funders for LGBTQ Issues, a network of more than 75 foundations, corporations, and funding institutions that collectively award more than $1 billion annually to LGBTQ issues, partnered with Converge to develop a new five-year strategic plan. Converge also worked with Funders to develop a national training program and curriculum on intersectionality, equitable organizational practice and grantmaking in the LGBTQ community.

Louisiana Coalition for Reproductive Freedom

Converge provides facilitation and strategy development support to the Louisiana Coalition for Reproductive Freedom (LCRF). This work includes supporting LCRF in defining goals, building coalition infrastructure, developing proactive legislative strategy, and leveraging strategic partnerships to advance policies for reproductive freedom.

TRUE Northwest Arkansas

TRUE Northwest Arkansas is a three-year initiative focused on improving diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) for communities of color and LGBTQ communities in Northwest Arkansas. Converge developed a public report of the state of diversity, equity, and inclusion in Northwest Arkansas, developed a community of practice focused on DEI and organizational development for four cohorts of non-profit leaders in Northwest Arkansas and designed customized website, training curriculum, and micro-site with resources for equitable organizational development.