Building Networks for Social Change – Key Takeaways

“Networked work requires leaders to let go of control and hierarchy, focusing instead on building trusted relationships. As a result, interactions between organizations become less “transactional” (using one organization to fulfill your own agenda) and more transformational (working as partners to explore emerging opportunities for true collaboration). “


In 2010, the Levi-Strauss Foundation launched its Pioneers in Justice program in the San Francisco, California area. It’s focus was on building networks and movements for social change within the San Francisco metro area.

In 2013, mid-way through the initiative, the foundation hired Heather Mcleod Grant, a well-known social impact strategist to research, evaluate, and create a report capturing the key impacts, insights, and learnings from this initiative.

Pioneers of JusticeThe resulting report is called Partners in Justice: Building Networks and Partnerships for Social Change. Partners in Justice: Building Networks and Partnerships for Social Change. Issue and social change networks will find the report’s learnings well worth reading and studying. Of value to this community is a chapter on Networks and another one on Movements. Each chapter is summarized in a two-page “Key Takeaways” section provided below.

Key Ideas

The Building Networks chapter summarizes the key learnings in a two-page “Network Takeaways” section which contains 7 key principles for build effective social change networks.

  • Networks can mean many things
  • Replace control with trust, and transaction with transformation
  • Share infrastructure and build “backbone organizations”
  • Start with small collaborations and build on them
  • Coordinate activities under a shared brand
  • Connect the grassroots and the treetops
  • Break down silos and work in the interstices


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