Shifting Power to Community Leaders: A Case Study in Participatory Action Research

Thursday, November 16

11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Shifting Power to Community Leaders: A Case Study in Participatory Action Research


To advance racial equity in the nonprofit sector, we must shift the power at all levels — including in research and evaluation. Research in nonprofits has historically been grounded in white supremacist mindsets and ideologies that view impoverished neighborhoods and communities of color as passive recipients of services. In an effort to prove “what works,” the evaluation of services too often has involved external researchers coming in and validating or rejecting the work of that community, often leaving programs and communities under excessive scrutiny and unable to shape their own narratives.

Recent years, however, have seen the increasing adoption of a different form of program design and evaluation — Participatory Action Research (PAR). In a PAR approach, the people who are closest to the issue being researched design the questions, plans, methods, and analysis, and drive the questions they want to answer, the information they share, the story they tell, and the changes and actions they want to spark.

This session will discuss the impact and benefits of PAR, highlighting a recent PAR study led by MENTOR and Community Wealth Partners, to examine how philanthropy can make more impactful and equitable investments in the youth mentoring and social capital space.

150 150 Ian Pullens
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