African-American Civic Engagement Project: Building Power in California’s Black Communities

Thank you to the generous support of the African American Civic Engagement Project Funders:

Akonadi Foundation

Black Civic Engagement Fund

California Community Foundation

The California Endowment

The California Wellness Foundation

The Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Foundation

The James Irvine Foundation

The San Francisco Foundation

The Rosenberg Foundation

The Wallace Alexander

Gerbode Foundation

A new opportunity and need to engage African American voters has emerged in the wake of Black Lives Matter and a growing national movement to raise public awareness and accountability around police brutality, mass incarceration and the problem of school-to-prison pipeline practices in public schools.

California is home to the 5th largest black population in the country.  African-Americans play a defining role in electing progressive candidates and passing progressive laws. As “likely voters” in the Black community age, it is critical to engage and motivate younger generations to step into leadership and civic engagement at higher rates.

Additionally, the political power of African Americans is dispersing as more families are displaced from historic African American neighborhoods in urban centers, and move to suburbs and rural counties.  Building movement infrastructure beyond the cities is key to ensuring the pressing needs of black communities are addressed, and their political voice is sustained.

On April 20th, California Calls and key funding partners officially launched the African American Civic Engagement Project to respond to these issues with an approach grounded in grassroots organizing linked to electoral participation.

This project brings together 12 dynamic grassroots organizations to expand civic engagement, and support a new wave of movement building in black communities across California. The African-American project partners are on the frontlines of developing young black leaders, expanding reproductive services for black women, fighting for college access, providing re-entry services for the formerly incarcerated, and organizing the homeless.


Introducing the African American Civic Engagement Project Cohort: Alameda County: Youth Uprising, Black Organizing Project; Contra Costa County: A Safe Return Project, Building Blocks for Kids; Los Angeles County: A New Way of Life, Los Angeles Community Action Network, Black Women for Wellness; San Bernardino County: BLU Educational Foundation, Congregations Organizing for Prophetic Engagement (COPE), Time for Change; San Diego County: Pillars of the Community, Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans

Two weeks ago, 8 of the groups launched their first integrated voter engagement program.  Nearly 140 Grassroots leaders will contact over 15,000 black voters in their local communities to motivate them to vote in the California Primary on June 7.

African American Civic Engagement Project

For the next two years, California Calls will assist these grassroots organizations to build their capacity and organizing muscle.  The training program will draw on over six years of experience, experimentation, and proven results that have helped California Calls reach out and talk to over 1 million new and occasional voters since 2009, and increase turnout of these voters by over 15%.

Find out more, sign up to get AACE Project Updates here.