Better Know a Network: The evolution of the RE-AMP network

In 2003, the Gaffield Foundation began an initiative for environmental advocacy by founding RE-AMP. Now a network of over 130 member organizations across the Midwest, RE-AMP has grown to contribute to multiple climate victories. Such achievements include blocking new coal power plants’ development in the Midwest, halting existing coal power plants’ operations, and even passing environmental legislation in multiple states. Today, the organization focuses on short and long-term campaign goals through a systemic lens. RE-AMP aims to understand and solve environmental issues through a holistic problem-solving approach.

“Include everyone, electrify everything, and decarbonize electricity.” In 2018, RE-AMP took climate advocacy in a new direction to equitably eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. To accomplish this goal, the organization shifted its focus regarding climate change. Today, the network recognizes it as a complex social and political problem, rather than just a technical one. Overall, RE-AMP believes that we can’t solve climate change without doing so in a way that maximizes equity and reduces injustice. Nonprofit leaders say that this focus came about mainly as the network grew and diversified, allowing the network to understand environmental advocacy. 

As it grew,  RE-AMP decided to restructure and reorganize. With little central structure, the network seemed to be a funder for short-term environmental advocacy projects. These initiatives aligned with RE-AMP’s mission but were not sustainable in the long-run. Funding multiple projects for many member organizations became challenging to manage and inefficient in terms of capacity. To combat this problem, RE-AMP founded a state table infrastructure, which allowed the network to gain power for long-term advocacy. These state tables receive funding from the network and external sources. This new system allows state-tables to co-create strategies, develop connections, and do capacity building within their state. With a secure structure, RE-AMP can maintain an extensive network with less fear of collapse or inefficiency.

Moreover, RE-AMP’s structure makes the organization unique in its methods for measuring impact. When measuring impact in a direct service organization, nonprofits can usually document when, where, and how they provide their services. Since RE-AMP is an advocacy-driven network, however, measuring impact is more complicated. The network works to measure its impact by the connections it facilitates, the co-creations it develops, and the capacities it helps grow. 

Currently, RE-AMP is focusing on better understanding the impacts of current and historical oppression, both conscious and unconscious. Additionally, the network is working better to measure their systemic progress through a linear impact measurement. These efforts are challenging due to the urgency of climate change advocacy. Overall, though, RE-AMP is continuously working for equitable environmental advocacy. Looking at climate change and environmental oppression through a holistic lens allows the organization to carefully make strategic decisions for impact, ensuring to address a functional approach without it being the only approach considered.

RE-AMP considers relationship-building and discipline to be the main drivers of their collaborative success. Building connections seems to have created a more robust presence that can create more advocacy programming. Additionally, the discipline to refresh their systems analysis has been valuable in the long-run, as the network is better able to measure success and collaborate across the Midwest.


Learn more about RE-AMP and other networks in: 

Networks for Social Impact by Michelle Shumate and Katherine Cooper – expected publications July 2021 by Oxford University Press.