Programs

The People’s Institute supports the on-going anti-racist efforts in communities, organizations and institutions through the following programs:

Undoing Racism® Community Organizing Workshop

Community Organizing Strategy Team™ (C.O.S.T) 
Reflection, Assessment, Evaluation Team™ (R.A.E.)
European Dissent
The People’s Institute Youth Agenda (P.I.Y.A.)
The Jim Dunn Center for Anti-Racist Community Organizing  

Undoing Racism® Community Organizing Workshop        
Undoing Racism is our signature workshop.  Through dialogue, reflection, role-playing, strategic planning and presentations, this intensive process challenges participants to analyze the structures of power and privilege that hinder social equity and prepares them to be effective organizers for justice. The multiracial team of organizers/trainers includes more than 40 men and women whose anti-racist organizing expertise includes years with civil, labor and welfare rights struggles, educational, foster care, social service and health reform movements, as well as youth and grassroots community organizing. An average of 10-15 groups per month participate in The People’s Institute Undoing Racism®/Community Organizing process.

Workshop participants will:

  • Develop a common definition of racism and an understanding of its different forms: individual, institutional, linguistic, and cultural;
  • Develop a common language and analysis for examining racism in the United States;
  • Understand one’s own connection to institutional racism and its impact on his/her work;
  • Understand why people are poor and the role of institutions in exacerbating institutional racism, particularly for people and communities of color;
  • Understand the historical context for how racial classifications in the United States came to be and how and why they are maintained;
  • Understand the historical context for how U.S. institutions came to be and who they have been designed to serve;
  • Understand how all of us, including white people, are adversely impacted by racism every day, everywhere;
  • Address surface assumptions about how your work is (or is not) affected by racism;
  • Develop awareness and understanding about ways to begin Undoing Racism;
  • Gain knowledge about how to be more effective in the work you do with your constituencies, your organizations, your communities, your families;
  • Understand the role of community organizing and building effective multiracial coalitions as a means for Undoing Racism.

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Community Organizing Strategy Team™ (C.O.S.T) 
Participants in the Undoing Racism®/Community Organizing process often seek long-term technical assistance from The People’s Institute as they develop anti-racist community organizing strategies. C.O.S.T. works with community activists to analyze their organizations, their roles, and their relationships with one another across racial and cultural lines. The team assists community groups with establishing goals, identifying and developing indigenous leadership and maintaining accountability to organized constituents. The People’s Institute C.O.S.T. works with the Mid-South Delta Initiative, the National Network of Anti-Racist Training Institutes, and many regional groups.

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Reflection, Assessment, Evaluation Team™ (R.A.E.)
The People’s Institute is committed to an assessment process, guided by community leaders, that is based on the community’s values and self-determined goals. R.A.E. helps an organization or group state, observe and measure its vision and values with as much energy and commitment as it measures its “objective” goals and outcomes. This assessment process is based on The People’s Institute core anti-racist organizing principles.

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European Dissent       
Since 1989, a collective of white anti-racist organizers initiated European Dissent to explore ways in which to practice The People’s Institute principles in their personal, social, family and work lives.

The members of European Dissent are persons of European descent who “dissent” from the racist institutions and values designed to benefit them. Since its inception, white anti-racist groups developed throughout the country. In 2002, European Dissent/New Orleans provided major leadership for a gathering of 65 white anti-racist activists who seek to strengthen the white anti-racist voice in discussions and actions to undo racism.

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The People’s Institute Youth Agenda (P.I.Y.A.)       
P.I.Y.A. identifies and mentors young anti-racist organizers in colleges and in the neighborhoods where The People’s Institute does its work. Since 1996, youth have modified the Undoing Racism®/Community Organizing process so it is relevant and applicable to youth. In 1997, they adapted The People’s Institute principles and analysis to conduct a summer Freedom School, modeled on the citizenship schools of the Civil Rights era. Since then, P.I.Y.A. Freedom Schools reached over 2,000 children and youth in New Orleans, Seattle, Duluth, Minneapolis, Oakland and other locations.

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The Jim Dunn Center for Anti-Racist Community Organizing       
The Jim Dunn Center, a New Orleans initiative of The People’s Institute, is the fulfillment of the dream of The People’s Institute co-founders, Ron Chisom and Jim Dunn to build a leadership school for anti-racist grassroots organizers. Dr. Jim Dunn died before the dream was realized, so the center is named in his honor and memory. When Jim Dunn Center opened in 2000, The People’s Institute called together community organizers from throughout Louisiana who use anti-racist principles and the analysis of The People’s Institute in their lives, their faith, their work and their communities.

Today, the Jim Dunn Center activities are designed and led by an Organizers’ Roundtable, a collective of over 200 anti-racist community organizers from throughout Southeast Louisiana. Members of the Organizers’ Roundtable regularly meet to share their experiences, sharpen their skills and deepen their analysis through forums, classes and cultural event as well as provide technical support to one another and to their constituents. To date, the Jim Dunn Center for Anti-Racist Community Organizing has:

  • Facilitated leadership forums, in partnership with the Organizers, on housing and predatory lending, public school education reform, African American reparations, the prison-industrial complex, and internalized racial oppression.
  • Hosted evenings of inter-generational cultural sharing, with community dancers, poets, artists, storytellers sharing their creativity.
  • Supported anti-war, housing and other social justice mobilizations.
  • Collaborated on four research projects for African American history month.
  • Sponsored internships for high school and college-age anti-racist organizers in the U.S. and in South Africa.

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Testimonials

“I don’t know if you fully understand the impact that you have made on the lives of children, youth and families in the child welfare system of Texas. It is more than just about talking to CPS leadership and systems leaders, but it is in these other areas that we have brought into the discussion and into the trainings where it really plays out in the real lives of those people whose lives we so profoundly in our work. So that is how important you guys are in the work that must occur in these systems and I just want you to now how much we appreciate it.”
- Joyce James, Executive Commissioner, Texas Health and Human Service Commission, Center for Elimination of Disproportionality and Disparities