Pushing Forward: Forging Statewide Collaborations

To build sufficient power advance social and economic justice, we need a coordinated movement. A key part of our strategy is to collaborate with the ecosystem of local and state organizations working to expand the electorate.

Over the last 2 years California Calls has launched three power building projects in California:

CALIFORNIA MILLION VOTERS PROJECT

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This multi-year strategic collaboration is working to transform the California electorate to build towards bold transformative change by turning out one million voters to the polls. Bringing together the strongest community-based networks with significant integrated voter engagement experience, the MVP includes 47 local affiliates in 24 counties of the state and has welcomed in three new groups in 2017 – Asian American Pacific Islanders for Civic Engagement, the Orange County Table, and YVote . Together, we work to engage low-income residents, immigrants, youth and communities of color over time through one-to-one outreach and year-round education and organizing. In 2016, the MVP mounted signature gathering, voter registration, and get-out-the-vote activities, dramatically increasing voter turnout.

CALIFORNIA AFRICAN AMERICAN CIVIC ENGAGEMENT PROJECT

We Are Powerful

Recognizing the systemic, racial barriers that cause African-Americans to experience high rates of homelessness, incarceration, and unemployment—the African American Civic Engagement Project is a statewide effort to build the electoral power of African-Americans in traditional urban hubs and suburban areas. Twelve groups working in youth development, homeless and re-entry services, and women’s empowerment are now entering their second year of training and capacity building to reach and motivate Black voters. In November 2016, over 21,000 voters were contacted. In 2017, AACEP is working to re-contact these voters and encourage their involvement in local community meetings and other actions.

BUILDING HEALTHY COMMUNITIES INTEGRATED VOTER ENGAGEMENT PROJECT

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San Diego and Orange Counties, along with many places in the Central, Inland and Sacramento Valleys, represent a “fish hook” geographic pattern long considered a stronghold for traditional voters—older, more, and more conservative. However, these areas have experienced rapid demographic changes where younger, immigrant and Latino populations are increasing. Launched in early 2017, this project works with six community-based groups from the California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities program in youth services, environmental justice, health education and farmworker empowerment. California Calls and PICO California will provide support to train and pilot integrated voter engagement programs to increase the participation of underrepresented voters. Find out more about the Building Healthy Communities Integrated Voter Engagement Project, click here.

Join the California resistance. The 5 fights that will shape the future of our state and how you can join from day one.

Today a new administration enters the White House, formally ushering in a new moment in our fight and struggle for justice. As the architecture of this new government begins to take shape so does our battle against a dangerously divisive right wing and a staunchly pro-corporate agenda.

For the past several months our collective movement has begun the work of organizing and mobilizing for this moment and while much is uncertain, what’s clear is that in this new moment, California can and must lead the future of the progressive resistance to protect the gains we’ve made, but also use our power to continue to push for the bold changes our communities need.

Over the last two decades the progressive movement has made extraordinary gains in California — building power to successfully push back against the attacks of the 1990s, like three strikes and the anti-immigrant Prop 187. And yet, despite our progress, still far too many of our families, friends, and neighbors are the targets of state violence, racial profiling, low wages, underfunded schools, deteriorating services, and lack access to basic needs like affordable housing and clean air and water.

We know that when we come together and organize on the ground (and online 📲) we can build a movement by and for Californians that protects and uplifts all communities.

Only by building a groundswell from the Bay to San Diego working with and mobilizing families, young leaders, African-Americans, Latinos, Asian Pacific Islanders, immigrants, refugees, people of faith, the formerly incarcerated can we create the change our moment requires.

And this is exactly the type of movement we have begun to build as part of the We Are California campaign.

Over the next few years there are 5 key battles our movement will take on: Immigration, Healthcare, Tax Policy, Criminal Justice, Environmental Justice.

Fired up 🔥? Here’s how you can join these fights from day one.

1.) Immigration

California is home to 2.67 million undocumented immigrants, the most of any state in the country. With the incoming administration having already proposed a wave of anti-immigrant policies like mass deportations and the repeal of DACA — now more than ever California must stand together in solidarity with immigrants and refugees to protect against hateful attacks and policies.

California organizations working on immigration advocacy:

Southern California: Alliance San Diego, Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans, CHIRLA, CARECEN.

Central Valley/Central Coast: Dolores Huerta Foundation, CAUSE (Santa Barbara, Ventura), Communities for a New California (Coachella, Fresno, Merced).

Northern California: San Francisco Rising.

Statewide: Mobilize the Immigrant Vote, PICO-California, Presente.org, SEIU, NDLON, ACLU.

2.) Healthcare

The Affordable Care Act has expanded access to healthcare for millions of Californians and it is currently under serious attack. Over 4.9 million Californians — our kids, our grandparents, our neighbors with pre-existing conditions — currently stand to lose their health insurance.

With the Senate already taking steps to gut the Affordable Care Act, now is the time to stand up and demand that our legislators fight for the health of all Californians.

California organizations working on healthcare advocacy:

Southern California: Community Coalition, Black Women for Wellness, ACCE- LA.

Central Valley/Central Coast: Dolores Huerta Foundation, CAUSE (Santa Barbara, Ventura), Communities for a New California (Coachella, Fresno, Merced).

Northern California: San Francisco Rising, Oakland Rising.

Statewide: ACCE, SEIU, Health Access California.

✊🏽📲 How to take action now:

Tell your member of congress to protect the Affordable Care Act!

3.) Tax Policy

Over the last few years Californians have been increasingly vocal in demanding that those at the very top, who have benefited the most from our state, pay their fair share in taxes. In this last election, Californians passed Proposition 55, reaffirming a 2012 decision to raise taxes on the wealthy to fund schools and services.

Despite the progress we’ve made, there is more we can and should do to make sure big profitable big corporations contribute to funding schools, critical services, roads, and affordable housing. One critical way to protect California from potential federal budget cuts is to close the corporate property tax loophole created by Prop 13 that robs cities and counties from $9 billion every year in funding for local services.

California organizations working on tax policy:

Southern California: Community Coalition, SCOPE, Inner City Struggle, Alliance San Diego.

Central Valley/Central Coast: Dolores Huerta Foundation, CAUSE, Communities for a New California (Coachella, Fresno, Merced).

Northern California: Oakland Rising, San Francisco Rising, Working Partnerships USA.

Statewide: Make it Fair, ACCE, Courage Campaign.

4.) Criminal Justice

In the last two elections, California has taken steps to reduce it’s prison population and repair the damage to thousands of families torn apart by repressive sentencing laws. 20 years after 71% of Californians voted to pass the Three-Strikes initiative Prop 184, California passed sweeping criminal justice reform that has stemmed the build-up of California’s overcrowded and broken prison system.

Despite the progress made with the victories of Proposition 47 and 57, there is much work to do to reform a criminal justice that disproportionately incarcerates communities of color.

California organizations working on criminal justice reform:

Southern California: Community Coalition, LA Comunity Action Network, A New Way of Life Re-Entry Project, Inner City Struggle, Pillars of the Community, Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement, Time for Change Foundation, Alliance San Diego.

Central Valley/Central Coast: Dolores Huerta Foundation.

Northern California: Oakland Rising, Black Organizing Project, A Safe Return Project.

Statewide: PICO, ACLU, All of Us or None, Californians for Safety and Justice.

5.) Environmental Justice

California has long been at the forefront of environmental justice — implementing leading vehicle emission standards, placing strict caps on the emission of greenhouse gases, and brokering international environmental coalitions and alliances like the Under 2 MOU initiative.

Yet, many communities throughout our state — particularly communities of color, still lack access to clean air and water and green, open spaces. California can and should do better to reverse historical environmental injustice throughout our state.

California organizations working on environmental justice:

Southern California: SCOPE.

Central Valley/Central Coast: Dolores Huerta Foundation, CAUSE, Communities for a New California (Coachella, Fresno, Merced), Community Water Center.

Northern California: Oakland Rising.

Statewide: NextGen California, 350.org, Sierra Club, Coalition for Clean Air, California Environmental Justice Alliance, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Courage Campaign.

Together,

The We Are California Team.

The Arc of History is On Our Side: Reflections on the 2016 Election.

Tuesday’s National Election Results represent a major set-back in the epic battle for the soul and direction of our country. On the federal level, we will likely see major attacks on immigrants, health care, tax equity, environmental justice, social service spending, and public education. The harm, pain and anxiety among our communities will be heartbreaking.

And yet, there is hope we can draw from California’s story.

California may not be a battleground state in Presidential Races, but we foreshadow what America will be in the future. The demographic changes that are in play across the country took place here 20 years ago, when Republican Pete Wilson was Governor and likely California voters mirrored the composition of the national electorate yesterday.

And we are a battleground state on ballot initiatives. When the largest state in the country passes policies, the effect ripples across the country. Twenty years ago voters passed initiatives to ban affirmative action and bilingual education, allow minors as young as 14 to be tried as adults, and enforce three-strikes sentencing, sparking copy-cat campaigns in states throughout the country. And 18 years before that, Prop 13’s passage triggered the anti-government tide in America that continues to undermine faith in public institutions, funding for schools and critical services, and fuels cynicism in our democracy.

Today, as California’s electorate expands to reflect the breadth of who lives here, Californians are undoing the harm of these outdated policies passed decades ago to deliberately underfund and undermine communities of color.

Just 5 years ago California held a staunchly anti-tax reputation, and yet yesterday, Californians passed Prop 55, reaffirming the 2012 decision to raise taxes on the wealthy to fund schools and services. Despite $80 million in deceptive advertising by Big Tobacco, Californians overwhelmingly approved Prop 56, raising tobacco taxes for the first time in 18 years to fund health care for low income children and seniors. With Prop 57’s passage, we’re leading the nation on policies that roll back “Three Strikes” and break new ground on criminal justice reform. These are just three of several progressive victories in California, including the repeal of the ban on bilingual education, upholding the plastic bag ban, and the passage of new local revenues across the state to address health, housing and homelessness.

Proposition 55: Statewide results.
Proposition 56: Statewide results.
Proposition 57: Statewide results.

These progressive victories were not automatic.

California’s social justice movement has been building for decades, with deepening alliances among labor and community, and growing capacity among dynamic grassroots organizations to expand participation in our democracy.

This fall the Million Voters Project engaged voters at an unprecedented scale. In just four months, we registered 83,000 new voters in California. In the month leading up to the election, we had conversations on the phone or in person with 650,000 new and infrequent voters in 19 counties of the State, identifying nearly 500,000 supporters of Props 55, 56 and 57. We distributed 300,000 voter guides at the homes of voters largely overlooked by traditional campaigns. And in the four days leading up to the Election we re-contacted 150,000 supporters to remind and inspire them to vote.

Our lesson for the nation is that when more people engage in democracy, justice prevails. But this doesn’t happen overnight, and requires the hard work of organizing, one door and one neighborhood at a time.

Tuesday’s results speak to a renewed urgency to continue to organize and build a powerful movement for social justice.

Our work is one chapter in the long history of movements for civil rights, economic equality, women’s rights, inclusion and authentic democracy. And while not automatic or guaranteed, the arc of history is on our side.

Onward,

Anthony Thigpenn
California Calls