By Grecia Lima, National Political Director

Once again, the hard-right nihilists in the House of Representatives have shown the lengths they’ll go to undermine democratic institutions and fuel the perception that government doesn’t work — by doing everything in their power to ensure it can’t work. 

The political theater has consequences. House Republicans are scoring points with insurrectionists while hard-working families face another economic hit as a result of Republican dysfunction and disregard. Families have lost the guaranteed income of the Child Tax Credit and the health coverage of expanded access to Medicaid. We’ve gone over the child care cliff, risking 70,000 child care centers and throwing the families who depend on them into turmoil. As we stare down a government shutdown, families also stand to lose the SNAP and WIC payments that help them eat each month.

But each one of us still has a voice. By connecting with people on the issues that affect their lives, Community Change Action can build power from the ground up to change both the political conditions in Congress and the material conditions for hard-working families.  And we have a plan to do that.

Community Change Action’s 2024 political program and plans build on decades of experience working with our grassroots partners to create an electoral powerhouse. Our program is guided by the same North Star we’ve focused on for nearly 20 years: expanding the electorate and engaging hard-to-reach Black, Latino, Native, AAPI, immigrant, and young voters.

In seven key states, we will aim to reach 15 million voters, from first-time voters to the people who show up to vote at every opportunity:

  • Infrequent voters of color can make the difference in elections with razor-thin margins, but they may be disengaged from elections or need support navigating changing voting systems. We reach them through multiple channels, including doors, phones, SMS, and the digital spaces where they create community.
  • High-propensity voters can act as influencers within their own networks of family and friends. These trusted messengers are our most powerful tool to motivate low-propensity voters to go to the polls and make their voices heard. 

In the 2022 midterms, we saw that voters reached by their friends and family via relational organizing turned out at higher rates than their modeled turnout at every propensity level, especially in communities of color. So we’re doubling down to strengthen our relational voter contact program, which was the largest volunteer relational voter contact (RVC) operation in the 2022 cycle. 

Our democracy faces serious threats — beyond the dysfunction sown by MAGA extremists in the House — including voter suppression, misinformation spread by AI bots and agents of chaos, and the lure of third-party candidates. We’re using proven methods to counter these threats and mobilize more people. By bringing more people into the day-to-day, year-over-year practice of sustaining our democracy — and creating a truly multi-racial democracy — I know that we can create a society where everyone can thrive.  

Lorella Praeli, the First-Ever John D. Podesta Progressive Champion

We’re thrilled to share that our Co-President Lorella Praeli will be given the first-ever John D. Podesta Progressive Champion Award by the Center for American Progress, as Politico Playbook first reported.

This award recognizes a rising changemaker in the progressive movement, who through their creative, collaborative, and resolute work is paving the road and writing the rules for progressive policymakers and advocates. 

As we know through her leadership of Community Change, Lorella is the perfect choice for this inaugural award. She describes herself as a “proud Latina who believes we will win,” and her passion is “building collective power to win transformative policy change at all levels of government so people can thrive.” 

Read the full press release here.

Liberatory Approaches: Transforming Leadership Development

As we continue to reflect on Maurice Mitchell’s piece, “Building Resilient Organizations,” leadership development is a central part of our conversation. Simply: we advance the movement by taking care of our people. 

Deep, transformational organizing in historically marginalized communities is required for healthy movements that win. That’s why our Power 50 program offers leadership development programming that addresses systemic oppression and internalized racism and sexism. Power 50 nurtures deep relationships and interdependence among women of color leaders in our movement organizations. It, emphasizes the healing and somatic practices necessary to support them in their journey toward collective liberation.

Over the past five years, we’ve learned through the Power 50 program that organizing that transforms the self also has the power to transform organizations and systems. 

Aida Cuadrado Bozzo, Leadership Development Program Manager, and Bethel Tsegaye, Senior Leadership and Capacity Development Strategist, responded to Maurice’s article with this piece in The Forge:Power 50’s Work to Transform Leadership Development.” Read the five ways that Power 50 is transforming leadership development practices and building resilient organizations in the movement.

Housing Justice Movement Building Training 

“I believe”
“I believe that”
“I believe that we will win!”
“I believe that we will win!”
“I believe that we will win!”

That group chant captures the week Community Change spent in New Orleans with more than 30 grassroots resident leaders and organizers from California, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Washington for the 2023 Movement Building Training (MBT).

The MBT is one part of Community Change’s work to invest in the leadership of organizers and resident leaders. We aim to build and strengthen their individual and institutional relationships, enhance their collective organizing capacity to build power, and create a brave and beloved community that supports grassroots leaders to take action to make their values a reality in our communities.

The four-day agenda included sessions planned and led by our staff, our partners, and Movement Building Training Fellows. The Fellows worked closely with veteran Community Change organizers to design and lead sessions  to advance our growth individually and collectively as a movement for housing justice. We reinforced the importance of striving for “Communal Healing” that recognizes the worth and value of every individual and the collective. 

The resident leaders and organizers also took collective action to connect with residents around shared values for housing justice. The MBT participants took to the streets to knock on more than 150 doors, speak to at least 100 residents about housing justice work, and contact more than 270 families. Through the local canvass and phone bank, our resident organizing partner Residents Organized for Housing Louisiana (ROHLA), collected petition signatures demanding fair insurance and utility rates and recruited an additional 22 grassroots leaders for their organization. 

It was powerful to see leaders from different states making connections to their communities, recognizing that our fights are not isolated and that together, we can build greater power to act to make the changes we envision in our communities. The MBT concluded with leaders and organizers excited and recommitting to building the power of their state resident organizing networks and housing justice movements.

Relive the power of the 2023 Community Change Champions Awards

Last month, we were honored to celebrate the 2023 Community Change Champions Awards: Catalysts of Change. You can watch the full program on YouTube here and celebrate again our amazing awardees propelling us toward a democracy and economy where everyone can thrive: Chicago’s Grassroots Political Powerhouse including Grassroots Collaborative, United Working Families, and Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson; OLÉ – Organizers in the Land of Enchantment; Liz Simons, Board Chair, Heising-Simons Foundation; Vivian Chang, Executive Director, Susan Sandler Fund; and Gladys Jones, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, ECE on the Move!

Federal funding for child care fell off a cliff. Here’s why that’s a disaster.

Check out this op-ed by Rebecca E. Gomez of the Heising-Simons Foundation about how political inaction has consequences for families across the country. In late September, $39 billion in federal child care funds made available through the American Rescue Plan Act expired. As a result, close to 3.2 million children could lose their spots in early education programs. Congress can solve this problem but so far has declined to do so — starting with deciding not to pass the Build Back Better provisions in 2022 that would have made child care funding permanent.

Register Today: Bold New Consensus

Community Change is proud to partner with the Economic Security Project, the Roosevelt Institute, and the Hewlett Foundation to invite you to join some of the brightest and boldest thought leaders of today, growing power for public good and raising a new political economy. Co-Presidents Dorian Warren and Lorella Praeli will join an incredible group of speakers, including: Tressie McMillan Cottom, Anand Giridharadas, and Aisha Nyandoro. Join us in New York during this pivotal moment for our country, at Bold New Consensus Thursday, November 2 at The Cooper Union.

Texas, USA Film

Check out the trailer to a documentary featuring Community Change partner the Texas Organizing Project (TOP), and its Co-Executive Director Brianna Brown, telling the story of the state’s fight to protect voting rights. TEXAS, USA is a documentary film exploring what it takes to build a new, hopeful vision for democracy against enormous odds. It’s an underdog story, told through the lives of candidates and organizers during the statewide 2022 election who tell an unexpected story of persistence, community, and progress in an unlikely place. The documentary can be viewed on Apple TV+.

Thank you for reading about what’s happening this month at Community Change. See you next month!