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Insights and lessons learned from our work together


Understanding Our Roles in the Social Change Ecosystem

Updated: Nov 17, 2023

Achieving equitable education outcomes will require sustained effort from a range of actors and organizations, each playing complementary roles. The goal of educational equity does not sit with one individual or organization—it is a collective journey that requires sustained effort from a range of actors and organizations and collaboration, trust and shared purpose among them.

The Social Change Ecosystem Map, developed by Deepa Iyer of Building Movement Project, offers ten roles that people and organizations often play when working in pursuit of shared values of equity, liberation, justice, and solidarity. The framework and accompanying workbook asserts that social change efforts are more effective when connection with others is happening across the ecosystem. Each role is critical for sustaining change, and no one individual or organization can embody all the roles alone.

Members of the K-12 Education Networks Community of Practice reflected on the Social Change Ecosystem Map during a recent convening. Participants placed themselves as individuals and their organizations on the map. Among the group, many placed themselves and/or their organizations in the roles of builder, visionaries, experimenters, and weavers. Fewer placed themselves and/or their organizations as healers, disruptors, or caregivers.

“We don’t always need to play all roles. We can support others playing different roles,” said Kyndall Brown of California Math Project. “For example, a disruptor might raise an issue that lays open a path for an experimenter to try something new.”

“Being in a room together has helped me recognize the power we can have together,” said Pamela Seda of Benjamin Banneker Association. “Traditional views of leadership do not value or prioritize all these skillsets, but by connecting together and supporting one another, we can push for change.”

Individuals or organizations working to advance education equity can use the Social Change Ecosystem Map to reflect on the following questions:

  • What are the top roles my organization plays?

  • What does my community need?

  • Where are there opportunities for my organization to partner with others in pursuit of our shared vision and values?

  • What is a step I can take to foster connection with organizations playing complementary roles in the ecosystem?

For more detailed description of the social change roles and more guidance on the ecosystem map, visit

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1 Comment

Brent Jackson
Brent Jackson
Nov 22, 2023

I appreciate this framework as another way to think about diversity in our network. Having various the tend to have different roles can help make the network stronger. And also to help think about who is taking on what roles, and whether or not that is equitable.

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