Our Theory of Change

At Race Forward, we believe a just, multiracial, democratic society is possible, but only when racial justice is a fundamental principle of that society.

Achieving a just, multiracial democratic society requires addressing structural racism in all its manifestations—policies, institutions, and culture. It means that we must elevate the concept of structural racism and redefine and popularize what a just, multiracial, democratic society truly looks like. It also means that we must harness our collective power to transform systems and culture to advance proactive and long-lasting solutions for equity and justice.

Our work is urgent. White Nationalism and other authoritarian movements are gaining power across the globe by stoking fear and division, particularly against people of color and people who are transgender, gender non-conforming, or non-binary. To counter these movements, we must be absolutely clear about our vision and how we achieve that vision.

We embrace plurality—that our society is stronger because of our differences. We embrace intersectionality—that we must focus on those most impacted by the intersections of oppression, including, but not limited to, structural racism. And, we embrace equity and justice as transformative elements that will lead us towards a vision of a just multiracial, democratic society, free from oppression and exploitation, in which people of color thrive with power and purpose.

Race Forward, working within an ecosystem of social justice movements, is positioned to transform both systems and culture to steward that vision into reality. We realize that we need the interaction of four elements to enact change for a just, multiracial, democratic society.

Four arrows with text: “Grow Power,” “Transform Institutions & Sectors,” and “Transform Culture” circle the text “Just Multiracial Democratic Society.”

The elements are:

Grow Power: We need connected and aligned networks of people, organizations, and movements to build the collective power (economic, social, political etc.) necessary to counter structural racism and steward transformative solutions for racial justice. 

Transform Culture: We must harness the power of narrative, arts, and culture to assert the full humanity of communities of color, challenge racist ideologies that fuel structural racism, and envision a more just and equitable future.

Transform Policy: We must position communities of color and other historically oppressed communities as leaders and decision-makers in the policy-making process in order to create racially equitable policies at all levels.

Transform Institutions/Sectors: Institutions across multiple sectors of society (e.g. government, philanthropy, non-profit, private, etc.) must operationalize racial equity into their policies, practices, programs, and products.

Race Forward’s Theory of Change directs us to continually examine our work within a racial justice ecosystem, which is reflected by our departments (Movement & Capacity Building; Narrative, Arts & Culture; Research; and Institutional/Sector Change). Specifically:

  • It demands that we first listen and learn from the people and places where we work. 

  • It insists that we continually think about our role as a national intermediary, so that we are positioned to contribute to and multiply efforts towards racial justice in a particular place.

  • It informs how we may think about collaboration across our departments and organizations outside of Race Forward.