International Development, Community, and Environment

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Grassroots coalitions are one mechanism by which marginalized groups access the policy arena. Such alliances integrate group interests in demand making and can influence the policy process through collective action. Understanding what factors lead to formation, sustainability, and success can explain how and why alliances function as political intermediaries. This paper features one national social change organization that collaborates with local grassroots groups working on three federal policy priorities: immigration, retirement security, and economic justice. It investigates what organizational structures and processes increase the access of local organizations to policymakers through multi-organizational alliances of 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) organizations. Based on field observations and 58 interviews, the case analysis focuses on inter-organizational partnerships, intra-organizational development, and how these organizational arrangements facilitate grassroots engagement in the policy process. Factors found to impact the strength of alliances include alignment of interests and strategies; an ability to leverage heterogeneous relationships and resources; mutuality, trust, and respect in partnership; political capacity; and "bottom-up"pathways to participation for grassroots constituencies. These findings are central to understanding the structure, function, and political effectiveness of contemporary national-to-local partnerships.

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Nonprofit Policy Forum

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alliances, coalitions, grassroots organizations, policy influence, political capacity

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Sociology Commons


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