Research for Community Power Program

What is DataCenter’s Research for Community Power Program?

The Research for Community Power Program (RCPP) strengthens the power of grassroots organizing by strategically integrating community-driven research as a critical component of social justice campaigns.  RCPP is values-driven, elevates community expertise, and supports self determination through the strategic use of research and documentation tools to advance the political objectives of organizations led by and working in marginalized communities. RCPP builds the capacity of communities to develop their own expertise and leadership by lifting up the perspective of the community to define priorities and propose meaningful solutions.

Why Research?


The RCPP was key in our partnership with the National Domestic Workers Alliance — together, we were able to strengthen workers’ organizing efforts and win historic policy changes.

We know that people’s direct experiences with day-to-day injustices and knowledge that gets passed down from generation to generation is dismissed in the policy arena. Decision makers continue to rely on published information and data produced by mainstream researchers regardless of whether it reflects the perspective of the community being impacted. As a result, communities of color and poor communities are silenced and disempowered.  Community-driven research bolsters campaigns aimed at reshaping systems of power and creating lasting change.  Community-driven research effectively builds and strengthens the member base of grassroots organizations and informs long terms strategies for change. This leads to community-generated solutions in public policy and decision making.

[DataCenter] Greatly increased our capacity to engage in research to gather and document powerful stories, as well as recruit directly affected members to plug into campaigns.” — Participant of the national webinar on democratizing research and evaluation for constituents of Domestic Violence Prevention agencies

Why is RCPP Critical?

RCPP is strategic. Building research capacity leads to stronger organizing capacity. Community-driven research engages communities in the problems people face and moves them to action. Building solid campaigns for change requires research that leads to effective strategy and results in the communities’ investment in fighting for solutions.

RCPP is transformative.  The learning that happens when research is integrated into a social justice campaign is transformative –the campaign is changed by the research, the research is changed by the campaign.  We learn together, we validate our experiences and affirm what we already know, we discover more about the roots and impact of oppression and we move toward personal and political transformation.

RCPP is practical. Integrating community driven research into the core of community organizing helps build campaigns that win and strategies with a long-term vision for change.  Research opens doors for community members to engage, to be heard, to learn and to lead.

What does RCPP offer?

DataCenter is committed to integrating research into grassroots campaigns because it builds community leadership, supports self-determination, and expands community capacity to create change. We support community organizers to develop the skills and experience necessary to integrate community-led research into their future organizing work. Our work is unique in every situation and frequently includes:

  • Research design
  • Technical assistance and trainings on specific research methods
  • Campaign target research
  • Data management
  • Data analysis
  • Report writing and design
  • Messaging strategy and development



Aspects of Organizing
Examples of Research Integration
Base-Building: Recruiting and retaining a large group of community members to participate in, help implement, and direct the work of organizations, networks and campaigns.
  • Assessing needs in the community through door to door surveys and other participatory methods
  • Holding community events to present original research on the community, help folks see they’re not alone, and encourage them to come together
  • Using powerful data to amplify community voices
Campaign Development: Building sustained fights to win concrete policies and institutional changes on issues that impact the community.
  • Finding information to inform campaign strategy and develop analysis of what it will take to win
  • Researching the feasibility of possible demands to build a campaign around
Leadership Development: Developing the political analysis and practical skills of community members
  • Training community members to carry out participatory research (designing, implementing, and analyzing findings)
  •  Developing leadership skills to share powerful narratives for various audiences
Organizational Development: Building capacity and infrastructure to sustain effective campaigns
  • Evaluations of the capacity of organizations and groups
  • Database management
  • Research to inform fundraising strategy


Not sure exactly what you need or don’t see it listed here? Contact us and we’ll be happy to talk it through with you.


*Icons in the Research & Organizing infographic are from the Noun Project (Capitol icon created by Pabli Rozenberd, Smoke stacks icon created by Simon Child, Pencil icon created by Tom J Hume, Scale icon created by Eric Bird).