All elections promote and suppress ideas about how the world works—but the 2016 presidential campaign was stunning in its toll on ideas central to the mission of nonprofit organizations. In a new analysis in Nonprofit Quarterly, FrameWorks Institute CEO Nat Kendall-Taylor and founder Susan Nall Bales analyze the election's impact on public thinking and discuss the implications for nonprofit communications. The authors pinpoint the aspects of American culture that have become more dominant—or “easier to think”—due to recent rhetoric as well as those that now more recessive and “harder to think.” Advocates, they add, should "forget slogans" and take time to explain how social problems work and how to solve them.
The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and New America released a new report about the need for and benefits of early STEM learning and makes recommendations to support it. It features an article by the FrameWorks Institute that lays out a clear narrative that science and education advocates can use to unite around science-based communications. The report—STEM Starts Early: Grounding Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education in Early Childhood—was released on Feb. 2.
In 2016, FrameWorks worked hard to bring provocative, practical, and proven framing recommendations to advocates and policymakers working to create change. We talked framing at the White House, the World Health Organization, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. We saw the frames emerging from our research shape media coverage of social issues locally, nationally, and internationally--from the Lethbridge Herald and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to the New York Times. Our widening circle of partners drew on our advice to press for change on adolescent substance use, child adversity, climate change, the criminalization of poverty, human services, oral health equity, and more.
It's been quite a year - and we're ready for 2017, when it will be more important than ever to work in coalition to conscientiously frame social issues.
HUMAN RIGHTS AND JUSTICE
CHILDREN AND FAMILIES
PEACEFUL & VERDANT WORLD
When people of varying income levels live in the same communities, send their kids to the same schools, visit the same libraries, and commute to and work at the same places, our whole society benefits. Yet few understand the benefits of socioeconomically mixed neighborhoods, view it as a societal goal, or support policies that promote it. A new MessageMemo released by the FrameWorks Institute aims to change that. It summarizes expert and public views on socioeconomic mixing and shows advocates, experts, and communications professionals how to make a more effective case for it. The recommendations include using the value of Interdependence to talk about mixed-income communities and using both historical and contemporary examples of policies that maintain economic and racial segregation. This work was supported by a grant from the John L. and James S. Knight Foundation.
How do experts understand poverty in the United Kingdom? And how do these views differ from the way the public understands poverty? The FrameWorks Institute answers these questions in a new report released about UK poverty. It explores that gaps between expert and public understandings of poverty and makes recommendations that anti-poverty advocates can use to bridge them. The goal of the project, supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, is to provide advocates and experts with the tools they need to build public support for policies and programs that can support people in need and reduce UK poverty.
In partnership with Enterprise Community Partners, the FrameWorks Institute analyzed current advocacy themes in light of the public’s dominant beliefs and attitudes about housing. “You Don’t Have to Live Here:” Why Housing Messages Are Backfiring and 10 Things We Can Do About It teases out the implications of advocacy messaging on public thinking.
Public health informatics is spurring major advances in public health practice, planning and policy. This discipline translates data of different types and from different sources into information that’s usable—supporting public health professionals by getting the right information to the right people at the right time. Yet many public health professionals are unfamiliar with the field and do not fully understand its function or value. As a result, the field’s contributions are “invisible, underutilized, and under-resourced,” according to the Public Health Informatics Institute (PHII). The FrameWorks Institute partnered with PHII to change that.
Findings and recommendations are now available in a new communications toolkit. Over the last year, FrameWorks researchers designed and tested ways to raise the visibility of informatics, increase understanding of this field, build workforce capacity, and ultimately improve population health outcomes through the efficient sharing of public health information. The results are in. Reframing Public Health Informatics includes research findings, offers recommendations, new explanatory metaphors, sample “before-and-after” communications, and animated GIFs that can be used to more effectively communicate about the field. This toolkit, available to the public, was produced in partnership with PHII, a program of the Task Force for Global Health, and supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If you’re a communicator working in afterschool, early childhood, K-12, or an informal science education institution, you might suspect that you need a better story on STEM. “Making the Case for STEM Learning” can help you learn to tell one. Based on FrameWorks Institute’s research on the communications aspects of STEM learning, this course walks communicators through a tested narrative that can shift the public’s attitudes, knowledge, and policy preferences on a wide range of important policy and practice issues. For a limited time, you can register in this course at no cost, thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Afterschool Alliance and funding from the Noyce Foundation.
Our take on framing in 2016. In this national webinar hosted by NonProfit Quarterly, FrameWorks unpacked why candidates' rhetoric and advocates’ framing efforts are two different things.
Public discourse, public opinion, and social policy are closely linked. When the frames in play leave out crucial information, people and policymakers often fill in the blanks with outdated thinking. FrameWorks studied how the media and advocacy organizations frame adolescent substance abuse and pinpointed several opportunities for advocates to shape the conversation. Read the findings here.
One of the most reliable and respected sources of nonprofit news turned its spotlight on the FrameWorks Institute this month in its print and online coverage. “Words That Change Minds”—an in-depth organizational profile of FrameWorks—appears in the September issue of the Chronicle of Philanthropy. FrameWorks has “helped move issues onto the agenda in state legislatures, Congress, and philanthropy circles simply by making them easier to understand,” the Chronicle reports. The “game changer,” FrameWorks’ partners say, “is the way the group’s words and concepts have seeped into the culture.”
Two new studies from the FrameWorks Institute chart the communications landscape that advocates must navigate on the way to moving policies about fair, healthy, and affordable housing. A “Map the Gaps” report compares public and expert understandings of healthy housing and offers insights into where the conversation can get stuck in the “swamp” of public opinion and how to move it to higher ground. A systematic analysis of the frames used by the media and by influential housing reform organizations yields a carefully drawn map of the narratives in play—with directions for navigating it strategically. These studies—the first of several that are scheduled to be released in the months ahead—were sponsored by Enterprise Community Partners, with additional support from National Center for Healthy Housing and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
What are the obstacles to effective communication about implementation science, and how can advocates better navigate them? Just Do It: Communicating Implementation Science and Practice, a new study from the FrameWorks Institute, offers insight. It arrives amid conversations about opportunities to implement major new policies in education, climate change, criminal justice, and other policy fields. The study was produced in collaboration with the National Implementation Research Network at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
New Narratives: Changing the Frame on Crime and Justice, a new MessageMemo from the FrameWorks Institute, offers UK communicators a framing strategy for resetting assumptions and shifting the terms of the public conversation. This work was conducted with generous support from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Porticus UK, in collaboration with Transform Justice, the Standing Committee for Youth Justice, Clinks, and the Criminal Justice Alliance.
At a time when many in the United Kingdom have become attuned to the importance of framing, FrameWorks CEO Nat Kendall-Taylor traveled across the pond to deliver a pair of talks about the importance of framing in communications about housing and homelessness. He addressed audiences affiliated with Crisis UK, a leading nonprofit organization in London that aims to prevent and end homelessness. Read more.
As juvenile justice reforms gain momentum, effective framing can help ensure that advocates reach new allies and broaden their constituencies. Talking Juvenile Justice Reform: A FrameWorks MessageMemo charts a research-based narrative to accomplish this. The memo is supplemented by Shifting Gears on Juvenile Justice: A FrameWorks Communications Toolkit, which models ways to use the recommendations in day-to-day communications. Both were supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and developed in collaboration with the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute.
FrameWorks researchers are testing strategies to help people understand the importance of oral health and health equity—a set of issues often overlooked by policymakers and members of the public. To help reframe these issues, FrameWorks researchers developed a set of Explanatory Metaphors—tools that enhance understanding by comparing complex or unfamiliar concepts to everyday ideas. These Metaphors were designed to explain the connections between the mouth and other systems in the body and position oral health as an important social justice issue.
FrameWorks researchers have been testing these Metaphors in a series of “on-the-street” interviews and will launch a large-scale survey experiment later this summer to see how these and other frames affect people’s understanding, attitudes, and solution support on oral health issues. This research is being conducted in close partnership with the DentaQuest Foundation, a nonprofit organization that aims to improve oral health for all. The research builds on an earlier FrameWorks’ project on children’s oral health. Findings will be available later this year.
In a White House symposium on early STEM learning, FrameWorks Founder Susan Nall Bales called on champions of early childhood education to use communications science to make a more powerful case for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education for young children. The event was designed to highlight the need to promote active STEM learning for young children and to celebrate leaders who are advancing it in the public and private sectors.
In her comments, informed by work most recently conducted for the Noyce Foundation in partnership with the Afterschool Alliance, Bales laid out some of the unproductive ways that people think about early STEM learning. She also outlined an initial strategy that advocates and experts can use to overcome these challenges and reframe the issue. The symposium was held on April 21st in partnership with the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services and Invest in US, an early childhood education fundraising initiative.
A major transition in leadership has been announced by the FrameWorks Institute, the award-winning nonprofit think tank that conducts research on reframing public issues and supports those working to improve social outcomes. Beginning this month, FrameWorks Founder and longtime President Susan Nall Bales will assume the role of Chairman of the Board and Senior Advisor. Succeeding her as CEO is Nat Kendall-Taylor, PhD, a psychological anthropologist who has been with FrameWorks in progressively responsible roles since he joined the organization in 2008 as a Senior Researcher.
Kendall-Taylor has led work across the FrameWorks portfolio but has focused special attention on early childhood development and mental health, criminal justice, and aging. He has also led the expansion of FrameWorks' work outside the United States, working in Australia, Brazil, Canada, South Africa, Germany, and the United Kingdom. FrameWorks' Board of Directors confirmed Kendall-Taylor as Bales' successor over a year ago, though the decision has remained private until now. Read more...
When the Nuclear Security Summit convenes in Washington, DC, this year, FrameWorks will be heading out of town to discover how ordinary people think about the proliferation of nuclear weapons. We will be researching how people connect this important security concern to their deep-seated beliefs and models of how the world works. Working with NSquare, and funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, FrameWorks will conduct in-depth interviews in three locations in the United States and on-the-street interviews in two other locations. These data, analyzed through the lens of Strategic Frame Analysis®, will yield important insights that experts and advocates can use to help the public understand how safeguarding nuclear materials contributes to global well-being. This important new project builds on FrameWorks' multiyear effort to document how Americans understand global issues. We're glad to be returning to this important topic and look forward to sharing new information about how Americans see the world. Stay tuned.