Case Study: Levi Strauss Foundation

Case Study: Levi Strauss Foundation

protest sign

With the premise that leaders of legacy social justice organizations would benefit, and their power and impact grow, from an intensive development program focused on new forms of collaboration and social media, the Levi Strauss Foundation engaged us as partners in their Pioneers in Justice initiative. As a partner, we were asked to co-design and implement ongoing initiative activities.

Leaders of five legacy social justice organizations were selected for participation as Pioneers: Arcelia Hurtado, Executive Director, Equal Rights Advocates; Titi Liu, Executive Director, Asian Law Caucus; Vincent Pan, Executive Director, Chinese for Affirmative Action; Lateefah Simon, Executive Director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area; and Abdi Soltani, Executive Director, American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California.


During the initial year of the program, we conducted social media and technology assessments for each organization, and produced baseline reports with recommendations for improvements and growth in these areas. Each organization was then granted $5,000 to implement our recommendations. Additionally, we conducted trainings on social media policies, its integration into communications efforts, and deploying technology infrastructure to support social media activities.

Building off our lessons, as the program progressed, we were able to work on deeper, more focused topics with the Pioneers. During this second year of the program, key deliverables included: the co-creation and management of trainings on the use of social media to engage immigrant and Limited English Proficient populations, and creating and presenting podcasts; continued measurement of the Pioneers' social media progress through a mini-assessment and report-back process; the launch of an exclusive online platform to enable the Pioneers to share resources with one another; and introductory field-building support so the Levi Strauss Foundation can share key learnings, best practices and resources from Pioneers in Justice within the social justice arena.

In fall 2012, we began a third year of Pioneers in Justice with a focus on furthering the field-building activities of the Levi Strauss Foundation and engaging staff beyond the leadership level to advance each organization’s online advocacy capacity.

Narrowing the Divide

The Pioneers’ organizations have increased their capacities to utilize social media and technology to advance their social justice missions. In terms of strategic approach and proficiencies, they are setting examples of how to effectively leverage these tools to engage and organize difficult-to-reach audiences around complex, and oftentimes polarizing, issues. This is a direct result of the willingness of both the organizations and the Levi Strauss Foundation to experiment with new ways of ‘doing business.’