How We Make A Difference

Praxis’ change model focuses on work with community organizations, agencies and other institutions to help them craft comprehensive change approaches to building healthier communities. The Praxis Project works from two basic assumptions about the root causes of health problems:

  1. There is something wrong with the current systems of power relations.  They are unjust, unfair and make it challenging to impossible for most people in this world to thrive.  This is a problem that’s systemic and institutional of which individual action and beliefs play a part.
  1. Much of what manifests as social problems (disease, poverty, etc.) are symptoms of these larger issues of injustice.  If we are to effectively address social problems we have to develop ways of addressing their root causes. 

Basic Tenets of Our Change Model

Building local power is critical to making real change.  What are the building blocks of a new democracy?  How will we learn to work together?  Govern together?  Working locally, we can more effectively make our voices heard, forge shared vision and even implement cutting edge initiatives.  The local is especially important as our communities are often concentrated in urban and rural areas that are marginalized in the regular course of state and federal policymaking.  As statewide initiatives tend to focus where legislative interest and power resides, these initiatives can contribute to the disenfranchisement of cities and rural areas and further privilege suburban areas.  Building local power with national vision and coordination is building democracy from the bottom up.

Community organizing and capacity building are central to making sustained change.  Advocates also need a supportive community in which they can explore new models, forge new alliances and learn from one another.  Praxis is dedicated to the principles of popular education.  Praxis provides training and education approaches that value participation and experiential learning.  We are committed to building power in communities that are often marginalized in policymaking.  Projects with the potential for building long term infrastructure for change are a priority as addressing root causes is a long term project. 

Speaking truth to build power.  Effective communication is a critical part of a successful change strategy.   Reframing does not happen with one smart media bite or in a few interviews.  That is why Praxis’ justice communications work focuses on research and analysis that takes an interdisciplinary approach with an emphasis on framing for long term change.  Supporting groups to move into the digital age, we take the seemingly complex and put it in plain language – actually in two languages as staff does training and consultation in both English and Spanish.  However, given the rapidly changing terrain, Praxis is also active in efforts to shape technology and media policy so we are not just reacting to its impact on communities. 

Our work must be based on good research and evaluation.  This is the Information Age and research is the new currency in policymaking.  Praxis develops information to help shape policy and strategy in this shifting social climate.  We examine the context as well as the content of policy initiatives to provide credible information that advocates can use.

Money making a difference.   Praxis is committed to leveraging resources to expand change infrastructure in communities hard hit by social problems.  Working with traditional philanthropic partners and others, Praxis raised more than $20 million for advocacy organizations nationwide.   We also work with investors on funding change strategies to help identify gaps and change investment opportunities. 

Not just more policy but better policy.  Inspired by theoretical frameworks like Lefevre’s “Right to the City,” Sembello, Freire and Cabral, we seek to support policy development forged out of community vision that helps create just outcomes, more democratic governance and addresses the real problems communities face. 

 

Stages of Policy Change

Stage

Level of Impact

Examples

Level 1

Improved conditions

 

Clean indoor air policies, restrictions on alcohol outlets, affordable housing rules

Level 2

Improved conditions and greater access to governance; resources

 

Tobacco or alcohol excise tax increase with funds dedicated to community boards and/or organizations; park funding equity policy that creates a community board for oversight and implementation

 

Level 3

Improved conditions and high levels of community control, governance, enfranchisement and access to resources

Proportional representation, Dedicated public revenues under formal community oversight and control, comprehensive development and land use policies that institutionalize community oversight and decisionmaking