Last winter, we went through a strategic planning process where we established our vision, mission, goals, and values (Tzedek had never done this before in its 5 years of operation). As we started to work through the check list of our tasks that achieve the goals, one thing became clear – what is the why? Why do we do what we do? And, once we busy ourselves with the work, what do we hope will change as a result? Thus, our theory of change was born.
The theory of change identifies an existing condition that we want to change and describes what we actively do to change it. To be certain, it is truly theoretical. We live in a complex world. There is no way we can predict a direct outcome resulting from a direct action. We can, however, use the theory of change to guide our work and stay grounded in why we do the work.
Over the years, we heard from our partners, grantees, and leaders engaged in social justice work about the challenges they face:
- Transformational professional development opportunities for activists and advocates are limited.
- Social justice organizations are working with limited staff capacity.
- There is a lack of infrastructure for collaboration among social justice organizations.
- “Call out” communication, white supremacy values, and toxic work culture are endemic to social justice spaces.
- The rate of burnout is extraordinarily high among nonprofit workers.
- Lack of formalized mentoring for emerging leaders of social justice movements reduces information and knowledge sharing.
These challenges informs our mission…
To facilitate a transformational experience for emerging social justice leaders that builds the capacity of organizations to effect change in Asheville and beyond.
And, our work is shaped by the following values…
Collaboration: Tzedek believes that personal and social transformation depend on authentic relationships and deep cooperation. We bring our expertise and growing edge to the table. We are all teachers and learners. Our diverse gifts and experiences are essential as we collaborate to build bridges.
Integrity: We center integrity in the work we do. Together, we strive towards transparency and accountability. We practice integrity by aligning our words and actions with our values.
Critical Inquiry: We explore. We examine. We strategize. We look at the world from multiple perspectives, resisting simple narratives and either/or thinking. We understand that social change requires that we push against the stories we’ve inherited. We honor multiple ways of making sense of our world, from intellectual analysis to embodied knowledge.
Equity & Inclusion: Interlocking systems of oppression—racism, heterosexism, anti-Semitism, transphobia, xenophobia, sexism, classism, ableism, and ageism–compromise human flourishing. Justice depends on all of us being present and engaged in the process. We build the capacity of organizations working towards social transformation, and we practice radical welcome.
Compassion: We believe that the world desperately needs activists and organizers who lead from a spirit of compassion. We resist call out culture and toxic activism. We know that practicing compassion for others depends on extending compassion to ourselves. We actively practice bringing our full selves to the table and honoring the precious humanity in everyone.
So what is our work? We…
FORTIFY & DEVELOP EMERGING SOCIAL JUSTICE LEADERS by providing an intensive, experiential learning experience that facilitates deep understanding of social justice as the work of dismantling systems of oppression, cultivates the essential skills change-makers need, centers resilience and self care, and nurtures deep relationship and community building.
- Tzedek Fellows participate in intersectional equity training focusing on LGBTQ rights, racial justice, combating anti-Jewish oppression and exploring ableism , classism, sexism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, regionalism, and other systems of oppression.
- Tzedek Fellows receive communications training (ex. blogging, nonviolent communication, authentic public speaking, training, and facilitation) and organizing training (coalition building, fundraising, grantwriting, popular education, and campaign planning) to amplify their skills.
- Fellows receive supervision and mentoring from senior staff at their organization to learn soft skills and best practices for sustaining a career in the nonprofit sector.
- Fellows are invited to explore mindfulness, contemplation, wellness, and play.
BUILD CAPACITY OF SOCIAL JUSTICE ORGANIZATIONS by adding capacity through the placement of a Fellow with the organization, providing host organizations with professional development opportunities, and creating a network of social justice organizations who can cross-pollinate and leverage resources with each other. .
- Host organization staff participate together in Tzedek sponsored trainings on building transformative work cultures and intersectional approaches to social justice.
- Through our coaching collective, Fellows’ supervisors receive expert coaching and participate in peer to peer learning.
- Each Fellow contributes over 1300 staff hours working in their placement at a local nonprofit.
- Fellows run programs at their organizations with an increased awareness of LGBTQ rights, racial justice, and combating anti-Semitism.
SUSTAIN INTERSECTIONAL COLLABORATIONS IN ASHEVILLE by building bridges between social justice organizations in Asheville, North Carolina
- Tzedek programming builds a collaborative network, providing an infrastructure for social justice organizations to build partnerships and coalitions, share resources, and move towards a radically inclusive vision of social justice work.
- Organizations cross-pollinate knowledge, strategies, resources, and networks.
TRANSFORM HOW SOCIAL CHANGE WORK HAPPENS by cultivating rich connections between local organizations, celebrated activists, experienced change makers, and grassroots organizers and sustaining a culture of wellness in non-profit work.
- Social justice landscape is increasingly characterized by transformational rather than transactional relationships. Transformational relationships center on mutuality and interdependency, while transactional relationships are built through simple exchanges of resources.
- Social justice movements, organizations, and campaigns utilize a radically inclusive perspective– asking questions about who is included and resisting practices that solidify systems of oppression.
- Social justice-centered communities exemplify resiliency and sustainability, resisting urgency and reactivity that leads to burnout. By operating from a grounded, responsive position, these organizations retain the clarity of their vision and increase the quality of their work.
- Organizations’ impact is multiplied.