Roots Initiative Toolkit

From 2003-2006, the Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing (FCYO) coordinated the Roots Initiative, a grant initiative involving 10 dynamic youth organizing (YO) groups committed to exploring the “best practices” that contribute to successful organizational development nationally. Although YO was a relatively nascent sector within the social justice world, YO organizations were nevertheless making a powerful impact in their communities by the late 1990s and early 2000s. At the same time, there was a dearth of documented information on the practices and methodologies groups were enlisting (or, at times, creating) in their efforts to build effective organizations and campaigns.

By agreeing to participate in the Roots Initiative, the 10 chosen groups committed to collectively develop new social justice knowledge, particularly as it related to the role of youth and youth organizations in the movement. In this sense, the Roots Initiative groups were more than just a cohort receiving grants from the FCYO; they were a fellowship of “organic intellectuals,” on-the-ground leaders who, in addition to being engaged in daily struggle, were actively shaping concepts and ideas for the broader social justice community.

The Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing’s Roots Initiative Toolkit is a compilation of those lessons. It provides narrative reflections on three thematic areas: Leadership Transitions, Negotiating Relationships with Parent Organizations, and Bridging the Youth Organizing–Youth Development Divide. Throughout, the overarching theme is sustainability: How do groups prepare themselves for the long haul?

The Roots Tookit also contains a number of concrete tools that groups can use to improve their work; a list of the tools embedded in the document are below

Leadership Transitions

  • Tool 1: Self-Assessment & Reflection Worksheet for Organizational Leaders Beginning Their Transitions
  • Tool 2: Organizational Assessment Worksheet
  • Tool 3: Transition Workplanning Worksheet
  • Tool 4: Orientation Planning Worksheet

Negotiating Relationships with Parent Organizations

  • Tool 1: Cosmo Quiz: What’s the State of Your Relationship with Your Parent Organization?
  • Tool 2: Evaluating Costs & Benefits Worksheet
  • Tool 3: Evaluating the Pros & Cons of Independence Worksheet
  • Tool 4: Taking It to the Next Level: Moving Forward with Your Parent Organization or Moving Out on Your Own
  • Tool 5: Sample Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

Bridging Youth Organizing & Youth Development

  • Tool 1: Common Definitions & Activities of Youth Organizing & Youth Development
  • Tool 2: Youth Development Needs Assessment
  • Tool 3: The Youth Organizing & Youth Development Ladder
  • Tool 4: Youth Development & Youth Organizing Integration Worksheets