Ayni Institute — Movement Strategy and Trainings

Open Philanthropy recommended a grant of $480,000 over three years to the Ayni Institute to support research and writing on social movement history, theory, and strategy and to continue to produce online trainings on strategy, coordination, and scaling. The Ayni Institute plans to provide this support to other organizations working on criminal justice reform.

This follows our January 2021 support and falls within our focus area of criminal justice reform.

Ayni Institute — Criminal Justice Reform Coaching (2021)

First Movement Ecology Training. (Photo courtesy of the Ayni Institute.)

Grant investigator: Chloe Cockburn

This page was reviewed but not written by the grant investigator. Ayni Institute staff also reviewed this page prior to publication.


Open Philanthropy recommended a grant of $100,000 to the Ayni Institute to support coaching and training on strategy, coordination, and scaling as part of its digital Movement Ecology program. The Ayni Institute plans to provide this support to other organizations working on criminal justice reform.

This follows our March 2019 support and falls within our focus area of criminal justice reform.

Ayni Institute — Criminal Justice Reform Coaching (2019)

 

Grant investigators: Chloe Cockburn and Jesse Rothman

This page was reviewed but not written by the grant investigators. Ayni Institute staff also reviewed this page prior to publication.

The Open Philanthropy Project recommended a grant of $264,000 to the Ayni Institute to support coaching and training on strategy, operational capacity, leadership, and scaling. The Ayni Institute plans to provide this support to other organizations working on criminal justice reform.

This discretionary grant follows our December 2016 support and falls within our focus area of criminal justice reform.

Ayni Institute — Movement Ecology and Metrics

Participants at an Ayni Institute training. (Photo courtesy of the Ayni Institute)
Published: February 2017

The Open Philanthropy Project recommended a grant of $250,000 to the Ayni Institute to support its work on research, communication and training on movement ecology and movement metrics.

The Ayni Institute plans to use this grant to support a research project to identify and make the case for a set of metrics to use in assessing the capacity of groups to successfully mobilize the public on a large scale around issues such as mass incarceration. In particular, the Ayni Institute aims to identify metrics that can be used to determine both 1) the capacity of movements to create or capitalize on trigger events to shift public opinion, and 2) their capacity to absorb increased participation in high-profile moments. We believe that the resulting analysis of how to strategically fund the movement ecosystem may help to inform the way that we and other funders think about supporting movement-building, both in criminal justice reform and in other areas. We believe that the creation of movement metrics, if successful, is likely to increase the effectiveness of funding for social movements and attract new funders who currently do not support social movements due to the lack of measurability.

This is a discretionary (formerly called “no-process”) grant. For discretionary grants, the grant investigator (in this case Chloe Cockburn, our Program Officer for Criminal Justice Reform) can recommend the grant without needing to go through our normal process of providing their reasoning, discussing with the team, and providing input on and review of our public page. These grants are limited to a relatively small proportion of our grantmaking, and some other stipulations apply to what types of grant are eligible. The overall aim is for us to be able to move forward on relatively small and low-risk grants, based purely on the judgment of a single staff member and with minimal delay.

Ayni Institute — Momentum Training

Participants at the January 2016 Momentum training in Boston. (Photo courtesy of the Ayni Institute)

The Open Philanthropy Project recommended a grant of $40,000 to the Ayni Institute to support a “Momentum” training session for black organizers, including from the Movement for Black Lives. We wrote more about the Ayni Institute on our page about our March 2016 grant to the organization.

This is a “no-process” grant. For no-process grants, the grant investigator (in this case Chloe Cockburn, our Program Officer for Criminal Justice Reform) can recommend the grant without needing to go through our normal process of providing their reasoning, discussing with the team, and providing input on and review of our public page. These grants are limited to a relatively small proportion of our grantmaking, and some other stipulations apply to what types of grant are eligible. The overall aim is for us to be able to move forward on relatively small and low-risk grants, based purely on the judgment of a single staff member and with minimal delay. In keeping with the lack of process, we don’t plan to publish in-depth pages about the reasoning behind these grants.

Ayni Institute — Movement Ecology Training

Participants at an Ayni Institute training (photo courtesy of the Ayni Institute)

Note: Ayni Institute staff reviewed this page prior to publication.


As part of our work in criminal justice reform, the Open Philanthropy Project recommended a $110,000 grant via Centro Presente to the Ayni Institute, a movement strategy research and training organization, to develop and run a training on the topic of ‘movement ecology’.

Chloe Cockburn, our Program Officer for Criminal Justice Reform, believes that the lack of shared language and coordination between groups seeking criminal justice reform will limit the reach and impact of reforms.

The Ayni Institute plans to build on previously-developed analysis by some of its leaders around what is required to create and sustain a healthy movement ecosystem, where groups are in good communication and able to successfully build momentum for significant social change.1 This analysis draws from history, the experiences of organizers in the Ayni community, and lessons from movements elsewhere in the world.

Ayni plans to formulate this analysis into a training, and to recruit as participants for this training leaders from the criminal justice field, two other major social reform fields, and others. The goal is for the criminal justice participants to come away with a shared language that enables them to deeply collaborate and build more advanced strategies together. Including participants from other movements in the training is intended to provide outside perspectives and new ideas. If the training is successful, Chloe will consider adding more resources to include additional participants from the field.

Chloe has participated in an Ayni Institute training, and has also spoken at some length with others who have participated in trainings, in all cases run by the same people who will be responsible for the training funded by this grant. Chloe was impressed by Ayni’s rigorous training development process, sophisticated pedagogy, and rich analysis. She believes this training has a high probability of being very beneficial to at least some participants.

The Ayni Institute intends to provide additional training and support beyond the initial convening with the aim of sustaining and deepening connections between the participants and continuing to improve the analysis developed at the workshop. It also intends to reconvene the group some months after the training to reflect and set the stage for further development.

We see a number of risks to the success of this grant:

    • Much of this grant’s effectiveness may ultimately depend on who participates in the Ayni Institute training; we expect it to be difficult to identify the best potential participants.
    • Participants may not find the training compelling or helpful.
    • Part of the goal of this grant is to develop further the model of movement ecology that was created for the Momentum trainings,2 initiated by the Ayni Institute. It is possible that this additional work will not actually make the model more powerful or useful.
    • The leaders of the Ayni Institute are organizers by training; their style of teaching may not suit participants from other backgrounds.

We do not consider any of these concerns major enough to prevent us from making the grant.

Sources

DOCUMENT SOURCE
Ayni Institute Proposal Outline Source
Ayni Institute, What is Social Movement Ecology Source
Ayni Institute website, Momentum Source (archive)
Engler and Engler 2016 Source