The Power Within Us

July Newsletter

The Power Within Our Movement


We are the power within us. All year, I’ve come back to Abuela Margarita’s words — soy el poder dentro de mí — which sum up our recent Annual Report. I hear them in the cadence of marching feet, rising up to defend Black lives. They echo through victories like the Supreme Court’s ruling on DACA and whisper to me in the celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act, signed 30 years ago this month.

In the coming weeks, we will need all of the power within us. The rent is due in a few days. Over 140,000 of our neighbors have died and millions more are sick. Tens of millions of our friends and family members are unemployed and unemployment insurance is running out. Millions more are trying to balance child care and health risks to hold onto their jobs. All the while, police brutality continues, and the Senate moves with the urgency of a glacier. 

Community Change and our partners across the country are demanding more. We’re calling on Congress to meet the urgency of this moment and pass a new economic relief package that is fully inclusive and delivers everything that families need to stay healthy and strong through the crisis. To be clear, that means fully including all immigrants in cash relief and other assistance.

Statements are the easy part. Backing up those words with the power of the people—that’s the real work of our movement. My sister in the movement, Sulma Arias, is leading FIRM Action and Community Change Action in a nationwide, digital campaign to lift up the stories of immigrants who have been essential in our country’s survival during this pandemic, but excluded from COVID-19 relief measures. Last week, in partnership with Care in Action and MoveOn, Community Change Action called attention to the Senate’s stalemate and drove demands from across the FIRM Action network to #FundExcludedWorkers.

On Tuesday, FIRM Action partners CIRC Action in Colorado, PAZ en Accion in Arizona, FLIC in Florida, and Comunidades Unidas in Utah led a day of action across 30 states. Using our 28,000-member SMS list and network-wide social media coordination, we drove immigrant justice advocates to take actions including signing a petition and tweeting at their senators (since many congressional offices are empty, phones go unanswered). We also mobilized activists to join Community Change Power, our relational organizing program with over 3,200 volunteers who have sent over 1,000,000 text messages to the voters in our communities with the potential to swing this November’s election—aka Black and brown people, immigrants, and young people. 

Next week, actions in D.C. and online will continue publicly demonstrating the power and persistence of our galvanized base across the states and districts throughout the country. 

And then what? Truly, this is a different moment. A moment brought about by the movement—an opportunity that the movement will deliver. 

As we continue to mourn our heroes like the Honorable John Lewis, I’m remembering his charge for those of us who survive: “We are here. And each one of us must do what we can to help create the beloved community and never ever give up. We cannot give up.”

En la lucha,
Lorella Praeli
President, Community Change Action



Mobilizing Voters of Color in a Pandemic

Our communities must be heard this November. The racial justice, public health, and economic crises have magnified the stakes of the election–both for protecting our democracy and for pointing our nation toward a new vision powered by ideas from the ground up.  

During a recent Community Change Action briefing co-hosted by Quinn Delaney and Susan Pritzker, leaders from two of our grassroots partners (LUCHA in Arizona and New Georgia Project Action Fund) spotlighted how we are mobilizing voters of color in a pandemic. Although physical distancing has shifted some of our tactics, our strategy remains the same: We can motivate and mobilize millions of voters in our community through values-driven conversations with known and trusted local leaders–and we can reshape the electorate to look like the country, and win big. 

The New Georgia Project Action Fund (NGPAF), led by Nse Ufot, is on the front lines of combating voter suppression–both the new pandemic-driven approach and its historic precedent of suppressing Black voters. Leading up to Georgia’s June primary, NGPAF made over 100,000 calls and sent over 240,000 texts to engage, empower, and educate new and low-propensity voters, making sure they knew how to cast a ballot during the pandemic. On the day of the primary, NGPAF’s voter protection team monitored 120 polling locations that serve nearly 700,000 Georgia voters, particularly Black voters, to catalog issues and inform community members of their rights. Nse and her team are drawing on these lessons to build an even larger scale effort between now and the general election on November 3.

In the battleground state of Arizona, LUCHA co-executive directors Alex Gomez and Tomas Robles are also leaning into remote and new relational organizing tools to inspire voter turnout and overcome the enthusiasm gap. By engaging voters in two-way conversations and focusing on real issues that matter to their community, LUCHA is building on its 2016 and 2018 successes to mobilize an electoral powerhouse of, by, and for the Latinx community. LUCHA has already reached nearly 50,000 Arizonans through text, calls, mail, and digital ads.

How to Talk about Housing Justice?

This spring, Community Change, PolicyLink, and Race Forward launched a research project to change the narrative on the country’s housing crisis. Building on the lessons of the Race Class Narrative Project, we sought to discover which messages were most powerful and motivating with housing advocates and people in the middle on housing policy. Prior to the pandemic, Community Change worked with Lake Research Partners to gather 11 focus groups in five cities and conducted an online survey to find the most powerful and moving narrative frames in the housing justice fight. The research pointed to three lessons: 

  1. People nationwide see a clear role for the government in solving the affordable housing crisis.
  2. By using the framework of housing as a basic human need, we combat the idea that housing is an individual’s problem with individual solutions.
  3. Housing justice messages resonate when they include language that addresses race, inclusion, and anti-discrimination. 

We are already putting these findings into practice with housing organizing and advocacy partner organizations across the country. Our housing justice team has conducted multiple presentations with our partners and other stakeholders, and we are incorporating lessons learned across our program areas. In August, we’ll conduct trainings with local groups running Housing Trust Fund campaigns as well as with the affordable housing resident organizing networks that Community Change has helped build in recent years: Residents Action Project in Washington, Residents Organizing for Change in Oregon, Residents United Network in California, and Housing Louisiana. To learn more about the housing narrative research, check out our housing justice work here.

Raise Your Voice and Attend the 2020 VIRTUAL Community Change Champions

We are in unprecedented times and in the midst of multiple crises. The coronavirus pandemic is tearing through communities of color, exposing deep structural injustice, even as the country hits a tipping point in the continued racialized, state-sanctioned violence against Black people. Ideas that were radical six months ago have joined the mainstream debate. Now is the moment for our movement. 

Join Community Change and Community Change Action on September 10 at 6 PM ET / 3 PM PT to celebrate those leading the way toward a world where everyone can thrive. 100% of all event donations will directly support our vital work to build the power of low-income people, and especially people of color, through protest, organizing, and the vote. Together we can win big this November. The stakes have never been higher.

Lifting Up Our Voices

Life with COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic continues to rip through the country, highlighting long-standing disparities in access to health care in Black and brown communities. As we manage life as best as we can, Community Change/Action’s communication fellows are committed to showing us the realities of the pandemic through their own experiences. Here are some new perspectives on what American life is like during the pandemic:

Watch others share their stories and upload your own video here

We’re Looking for Dynamic, Boss-like Women for the Women’s Fellowship

Community Change is looking for boss women for the 2020/2021 Women’s Fellowship, an annual 12-month program that builds the leadership of formerly incarcerated women of color and those who have been directly impacted by incarceration and the criminal justice and immigration enforcement systems. The Women’s Fellowship is one way that Community Change is building Black, brown, and immigrant power and reimagining a healing and transformative model of community organizing. By investing in the women who join this program, we seek to strengthen the meaningful voice and perspective each brings to the struggle to end the criminalization of Black, brown, and immigrant communities.

Interested candidates should fill out the application form by Monday, August 10, 2020. Questions about the fellowship? Have someone to nominate? Contact Aida Cuadrado Bozzo, Senior Facilitator, Leadership Development, at [email protected].  

In Case You Missed It

Remembering John Lewis

This week, we mourn the loss of Congressman John Lewis, an organizer and life-long champion of the ongoing struggle for civil rights, racial justice and democracy, whose legacy and courage will continue to inspire millions of people in the fight for justice. Join us in reflection of Rep. Lewis by watching highlights from our 50th Anniversary celebration, where he received the 2018 Champion in Public Service Award

How to Reconstruct America

This month, K. Sabeel Rahman of Demos and our own Dorian T. Warren outline and advocate for the reconstructing of America in The Nation. In this conversation-starting article, From Uprising to Reconstruction, they place in historical context the times we are living in, assess America’s racial and gender discriminatory system, and map the vision to a just and equitable society. Anything less is unacceptable.

What Our Power Achieved in 2019

The year 2020 has been overwhelmingly memorable. But all of this year’s organizing and advocacy was built on the foundation laid in the past. Read about the triumphs, lessons, and seeds of change planted last year in our 2019 Annual Report: The Power Within Us.

Digital Postcard: Standing Together Because Black Lives Matter

Take a look at some of the scenes of protest for Black Lives Matter throughout the county, in our latest digital postcard: Standing Together Because Black Lives Matter. As we continue along this long road to justice, we recognize that confronting the racist systems in the United States is overdue–and if we keep educating ourselves, advocating for each other, and organizing, we will make a better future for all of us.