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The Roots of the Consortium

Communication has been an essential tool for development since early in the 20th century. The Rockefeller Foundation, as an early funder of communication projects, helped boost the academic success of the work of pioneers such as Wilbur Schramm at the University of Illinois and Paul Lazersfeld at Columbia University.

In 1997, the Rockefeller Foundation's then communication director and later vice president, Denise Gray-Felder, began an exploration to, in part, answer nagging questions: why is the communication work of many Foundation grantees scatter-shot, unsustainable and heavily message driven?

Following a series of discussions with diverse groups of communicators over a 3-year period, the Foundation's communication staff introduced the concept of communication for social change to the foundation and donor communities.

They then pulled together a network of more than 200 committed CFSC practitioners. This network, along with Foundation staff, has successfully influenced the communication agendas of major aid agencies, and applied CFSC processes around the globe. With Rockefeller Foundation funding leadership, major NGOs in North America, Europe, Latin America and Africa are successfully applying CFSC processes to make their work more effective. Among those key institutions that have recommitted major areas of work to CFSC are the Panos Institute, USAID, PAHO, Communication Initiative (Latin America and global), Soul City, South Africa; The Exchange, Afri-Afya (Nairobi), URDT (Uganda Community Radio), FAO, and the CADEC, ZAPSO and Umzingwane AIDS Network in Zimbabwe.

The Evidence Suggests:
Within marginalized communities, there is tremendous untapped potential to use communication for collective good. When people most affected by social inequity have the confidence and abilities to access, manage and control the processes, tools and content of communication, development efforts are more sustainable and effective. In other words, investing in communication pays off when donors also invest in building the communication capacities of the communities and people they're trying to reach.