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Cover: Essential Capacities for Equitable Communities

This report shares learning from power building groups across the country about the organizational capacities that are uniquely needed to build community power— including knowledge, resources, patterns of thinking and being. 

Among the capacities for building power are three core capacities: the capacity to organize communities, deepen equity, and cultivate leadership and leaders.

The core capacities are reinforced by others, including the capacity to nurture and sustain networks; generate financial resources; change culture and narratives; carry out research, advocacy, and policy implementation, regulation, and law; and provide services and mutual aid.

These capacities for building power are overlapping, interconnected, mutually reinforcing, and constantly changing. Capacities shape and spill into each other; as such, no single framework or list captures the multifaceted and complex ways community power building organizations embody these capacities.

The report also shares recommendations to potential partners of community power building groups, and how they might best support their efforts.

This report was created with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and its Lead Local initiative. Lead Local was a collaborative research project bringing together power-building leaders in the fields of community organizing, advocacy, and research. It sought to answer the question: How does community power catalyze, create and sustain conditions for healthy communities? To learn more about Lead Local, including who participated in the initiative, please visit