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People’s Action Institute

Building state and local power and aligning member organizations around a visionary agenda for racial, climate, and economic justice.

© Karla Conrad / People’s Action Institute

People’s Action Institute campaigns on a range of interconnected issues that win real change in people’s lives and shape an economy and democracy that work for all of us.

People’s Action Institute (PAI) is one of the largest multiracial people’s organizations in the country. PAI organizes and moves people in large numbers to build a bigger “we” through its issue campaigns and civic engagement, using base-building, leadership development and training, nonviolent direct action, and large-scale grassroots and netroots action to shape policy solutions and advance racial and economic equity. We first began funding PAI (then National People’s Action) in 2014 as its team launched the People and Planet First program. In 2018, we moved to general operating support as we began to catch up to the movement in recognizing the fundamental interconnection of issues like climate, racial justice, economic justice, and democracy.

We are in a powerful moment of becoming an America that has reckoned with the contradictions between our founding words and the actions that have followed. We can engage folks who are not yet with us in conversations on tough topics, or give up on people.

George Goehl
Executive Director, People’s Action Institute

In an era of increasing polarization, as political divides become bitter cultural divides, People’s Action Institute has been going back to the basics of organizing: meeting people where they are, listening to their stories, and inviting them to join with others to make change they can’t do alone. In the past few years, PAI has turned its attention to organizing in the rural and/or conservative places often overlooked by progressive activists. One of the tactics in this shift has been the widespread adoption of “deep canvassing,” in which volunteers have conversations rooted in curiosity, empathy, and connection to change people’s hearts and minds.

The video above shares a story of an early deep canvass conversation that one of PAI’s staff had, and shows the power of the practice. In 2021, PAI teamed up with the New Conversations Initiative to launch the Deep Canvass Institute, an effort to scale up this strategy and use it to fuel national campaigns from climate change and police abolition to economic justice. To learn more or get involved, visit the Institute’s website.

Recent grant history

YearProjectGrant Award
2022Supplemental General Support for an Organizing Revival$125,000
2021General Support (leadership transition)$100,000
2020General Support$375,000 over 5 years
2018General Support$50,000
2018General Support$100,000 over 2 years
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