Make Change

September Newsletter

When we vote, we win

By: Sulma Arias, Director of Immigration and Power Building, Community Change Action

We have the power to change our politics.

It’s no secret that we are living under a presidential administration that cruelly disregards the humanity of immigrants and people of color, terrorizes our families, and fails to extend the protections we need during a deadly pandemic. We are essential workers, but treated as disposable. Particularly given the recent passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, our rights hang in the balance. 

That’s one of the many reasons Community Change Action and FIRM Action are organizing to make sure Latinx communities wield their collective power — and cast their ballots in this critical election. It will affect our ability to build and shape the country where every American can thrive.

As Community Change Action President Lorella Praeli explained in an interview with The Atlantic earlier this month, we understand exactly what’s at stake in this election. “The question is who gets to claim America, and what does it mean to be a full citizen of this country. That, ultimately, is what is on the line,” she said. 

The network of grassroots immigrant rights organizations that I lead won’t be on the sidelines. This month, FIRM Action began our final push toward Election Day — doubling down on our nationwide effort during the final weeks before November 3 to mobilize millions of immigrants, Latinx, Black, Asian, and young voters.

Our network is throwing down in 25 congressional districts in 15 states: California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin — places where immigrant voters can impact the outcome of this year’s election. Organizers will safely engage voters remotely through relational organizing tactics, online rallies, texting, phone calls, digital ads, and no-contact literature drops. 

Together, FIRM Action groups will reach millions of pro-immigrant voters this cycle who are often overlooked by traditional campaign targeting. 

We have seen the power of our network when we flex our electoral muscles together. In 2018, the strategy of Community Change Action and FIRM Action to focus on unlikely voters — particularly immigrants and people of color — played a key role in turning out the infrequent voters who helped flip the U.S. House. We know that when #WeVoteWeWin

The soul of our nation is on the ballot in November — and together, FIRM Action organizations and our communities will win the fight for it. In order to create the future we need to thrive, we’re building the power to win big and govern as part of a multiracial democracy. 

In Solidarity,
Sulma Arias
Director of Immigration and Power Building, Community Change Action

What’s Going On? aka Program News

Engaging and Turning out Black and Latinx Voters

Black and Latinx voters can determine the outcome of the election–if they vote. In this pivotal year, the media is returning to the tired story of last-minute, get-out-the-vote efforts built on an overly simplistic narrative of these communities including why Black and brown people, immigrants, youth, and women vote (or not). It reduces Black and Latinx communities to false monoliths, and these stories often noticeably lack grounding in real conversations with voters.

For more than a decade, Community Change Action and our grassroots partner organizations have built voter engagement programs rooted in the lived experience of the communities we organize with–year in and year out. 

This year, our field, digital, and relational organizing programs are engaging millions of voters in Black, Latinx, AAPI, and Native communities in eight key battleground states and dozens of swing Congressional districts. Early voting and mail voting has already begun in many states – and we will be organizing and motivating voters every day from now through November 3rd. Some examples of this work from recent weeks are:

  • Tailored programs with messengers and messaging targeted for Florida’s diverse Latinx communities, including Cubans and Venezuelans in South Florida, and Puerto Ricans in Central Florida;
  • Creative ways to safely reach voters amid the pandemic, including physically distant canvassing to drop off care packages and making 1 million calls to voters through virtual phone banks on Mexican Independence Day;
  • Digital spaces to support and inspire Black leaders and organizers on the ground, including our “Black at the Polls” series, which features conversations with leaders from our partner organizations in the Black Freedom Collective; and
  • Media strategies to uplift the voices of partners like PLAN Action’s Executive Director Laura Martin from Nevada, featured on MSNBC.


Big Ideas for Our Economy: Watch Community Change’s First ‘Ideas Summit’

With the global pandemic, economic catastrophe, racial justice uprising, and threats to our democracy, this summer laid bare the fundamental inequities that have been part of this country since its founding. Neither a vaccine nor a stimulus package nor a new administration alone will fix it. So, even while we fight for these things, Community Change and Community Change Action are building “imaginative power” (as Dr. Megan Ming Francis described it) to envision a just American Reconstruction

We held our first “Ideas from the Ground Up” summit in July (which you can watch here). The revolutionary conversation featured Nana Gyamfi of Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Tayna Fogle of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Nijmie Dzurinko of Put People First! PA, Dorian Warren of Community Change, and Lorella Praeli of Community Change Action, and many more! Our goal? To build power behind a set of ideas and values developed from the ground up. 

In a continuation of the bravery to dream big, Community Change Senior Organizer Tammy Thomas Miles, former Community Change President Deepak Bhargava, and Mimi Abramovitz of Hunter College published an article in The Nation that matches big ideas with big solutions by taking on the Covid-19 pandemic, the American economic fallout, and the need to radically reimagine this country’s safety net

Fighting for A Fair Tax in Illinois

As Stacey Abrams has said, “The structure of our tax policy in the United States is the most direct form of social engineering that we have and the least investigated.” Our grassroots partners in Illinois are leading a fight to change that. 

The state of Illinois currently operates under a constitutional provision for a flat income tax rate, which has contributed to challenges around economic justice and fiscal health.  Currently, all residents pay the same rate of 4.95% of their income to the state, regardless of their income or tax bracket, placing an unfair burden on the state’s low- to moderate-income residents. The Vote Yes on Fair Tax Ballot Committee, created in 2019, consists of 30 community, advocacy, and labor organizations that have led the campaign for a Fair Tax over the past decade. This includes our partners Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (part of FIRM), Worker Center for Racial Justice (part of the Black Freedom Collective), and other groups like Jane Addams, One Northside, and Grassroots Collaborative. They have a plan to turn out 300,000 voters in support of the Fair Tax ballot measure by Election Day. 

The Illinois Fair Tax ballot measure would change the state income tax to a graduated tax system that would impose a higher rate of 7.75% or more on those making over $250,000 while lowering rates for individuals making less to 4.95%-4.75%. It’s estimated to bring in about $3 billion a year in revenue and is one critical piece to repairing the harm of centuries of anti-Black racism, as Deangelo Bester of the Worker Center for Racial Justice shared at Community Change Action’s Taking Power Summit

Lifting Up Our Voices

Presenting 20/21 Women’s Fellow Robin Turner

Robin Turner is led by her passion for others and their families who have been through the system of mass incarceration. She has been organizing with the Ohio Organizing Collaborative since 2018, and as a formerly incarcerated member of society, her experience inspired her to become a community leader who can change the racism and inhumane treatment of people by the criminal justice system. Robin works every day to change the criminal justice system in Cleveland and across the country. 

Robin’s also one of 12 women in the 2020/ 2021 cohort of Community Change’s Women Fellowship, a 12-month program that builds the leadership of formerly incarcerated women of color, or those directly impacted by incarceration and the criminal justice system. Robin (along with the 11 other women who are in the program) will foster relationships with like-minded women, gain support, confront and embrace her leadership style, and build her organizing skills. Most importantly, the women will become a part of a space where they can build trust and openly share and process past and current experiences.   

Robin shared that one of the reasons she wanted to be a part of the cohort was because her experience with incarceration and racism has shifted how she shows her authentic emotions and imagines the future of her community and America. We are excited about what the future holds for Robin and the women of the fellowship as we all reimagine the future of America from the ground up.

In Case You Missed It

Announcing the Housing Playbook Project

More Americans than ever, in every corner of the country, may be forced from their homes in the coming months. This is a time for bold action and leadership, so this month, Community Change, in partnership with the Ford Foundation and Former Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Julián Castro,  launched our Housing Playbook Project to reimagine the federal response to our nation’s current and future housing challenges. Read about the project that will bring together housing policy ideas from leaders across the country and prioritize those advocates who have been housing insecure themselves.

Relive the inspiration of our 2020 Community Change Champions Awards

Did you miss the 2020 Community Change Champions Awards? Need a little hope in these difficult weeks? Relive the premiere of the movement song Preciosas Vidas Negras / Precious Black Lives and watch the full event here.

Our Podcast Choice: Made to Fail Podcast

Made To Fail Podcast features Community Change President Dorian Warren in a live recording presented by The Roosevelt Institute and The Hub Project. Along with podcast host Elliot Williams and fellow guests Julián Castro, Felicia Wong, and Derrick Johnson, Dorian discusses conservatives’ decades-long weakening of the institutions that have failed Americans during the coronavirus pandemic.

Community Change Action Partner In Arizona Launches Blue2020 Campaign

Community Change Action partner LUCHA launched the Blue 2020 Campaign which targets making big changes by turning out voters in Arizona and kicked off their virtual rally with Community Change Action President Lorella Praeli and featuring real stories from organizers and the new ways they are going to engage voters in a time of COVID.