Communities Building Power For Health
To increase the impact of public health initiatives, Praxis and our community allies believe that a more inclusive approach is needed—an approach that prioritizes authentic partnerships with the communities experiencing the greatest health inequities.
Many localized, community-led efforts—which may not be on anyone’s list of “best practices” or “evidence-based” health interventions—are effective because they have emerged organically from local wisdom in spaces with unique contexts. These local efforts recognize the ever-evolving needs of communities and that these needs may change over time. We recognize that by building power to address one issue, we are building capacity to address other issues as well.
These community leaders are public health pioneers, which is why we are honored to highlight their work through our Communities Building Power for Health (CBPH) series. Many of these initiatives began when community members who were tired of experiencing health inequities and environmental injustices took action to protect their neighborhoods and family members. Their passion for their children, families, and communities is profound.
The map below highlights CBPH organizations, providing a case study or snapshot of their work, as well as program videos and podcasts for some organizations.
Learn more about the research that went into this landscape mapping project, through support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and partnership between The Praxis Project and the Psychology Applied Research Center at Loyola Marymount University.
4-Directions Development, Inc
Red Lake, MN
Since 2016, 4-Directions Development has developed multiple programs that provide one-on-one guidance, classes, and financial loans to help the population of small business owners in Red Lake, Minnesota reach success through effective business planning and management.
“Our services were established to help achieve the development of successful small business owners in the Red Lake Economy. These services include: Technical Assistance, Education, and Financing” – 4-Directions Development website
Acta Non Verba (ANV)
Acta Non Verba: Youth Urban Farm Project (ANV) elevates life in the inner-city by challenging oppressive dynamics and environments through urban farming. Founded and led mainly by women of color from the surrounding neighborhood and the larger community, ANV creates a safe and creative outdoor space for children, youth, and families in East Oakland, CA. Tassafaronga Park is planned, planted, harvested and sold by youth in grades K-8. One hundred percent of the proceeds are placed into individual savings accounts for those who participate. Check out the Featured Video and Podcast!
Arab American Action Network (AAAN)
Founded in the mid-90s, the Arab American Action Network (AAAN) strives to empower community members to make decisions about actions and policies that affect their lives and have access to a range of social, political, cultural and economic opportunities in a context of equity and social justice.
"As a grassroots nonprofit, our strategies include community organizing, advocacy, education, providing social services, leadership development, cultural outreach and forging productive relationships with other communities. Our vision is for a strong Arab American community whose members have the power to make decisions about actions and policies that affect their lives and have access to a range of social, political, cultural and economic opportunities in a context of equity and social justice.” —AAAN website
Asian American Organizing Project (AAOP)
Since 2013, Asian American Organizing Project (AAOP) has worked to lead, sustain, and cultivate grassroots organizing in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community in Minnesota.
AAOP is committed to advancing the AAPI community through grassroots organizing with a comprehensive approach to addressing AAPI barriers and issues in Minnesota. AAOP is committed to the principle of affecting long-term social change that cultivates the development of the individual, the family, the organization, and the community in Minnesota.
“The mission of AAOP is to advance Asian American and Pacific Islander participation in democracy for an equitable and just society.” – AAOP website
Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN)
Oakland & Richmond, CA
Since 1993, Asian Pacific Environmental Networkseeks to empower low-income Asian Pacific Islander (API) communities to achieve environmental and social justice.
“All people have a right to a clean and healthy environment in which their communities can live, work, learn, play and thrive. Towards this vision, APEN brings together a collective voice to develop an alternative agenda for environmental, social and economic justice. Through building an organized movement, we strive to bring fundamental changes to economic and social institutions that will prioritize public good over profits and promote the right of every person to a decent, safe, affordable quality of life, and the right to participate in decisions affecting our lives. APEN holds this vision of environmental justice for all people. Our work focuses on Asian and Pacific Islander communities.”
Bay Area Parent Leadership Action Network (PLAN)
Bay Area PLAN was founded in 2004 and serves Bay Area families by striving to actively involve parents in their child’s education in order to transform schools.
"Bay Area PLAN is a social justice organization that develops the leadership and builds the power of parents to transform schools so that all children achieve student success. Our vision is for every student to graduate high school ready for college, career, and life. Informed, active parents are essential to making this vision a reality." – Bay Area PLAN website
Black Organizing Project (BOP)
Oakland, Alameda County, CA
The Black Organizing Project (BOP) is a Black, member-led, grassroots organization. We are working for the racial, social, and economic justice of Oakland and Bay Area’s Black Community. We are doing this through relationship and community building, leadership development, political education and policy change.
“Build a strong bottom-up organization of Black people that will: Craft alternative models and institutions that will advance our vision of racial and economic justice; Rebuild the spirit and foundation of our community; Exercise political and economic power; Act to win real systematic change; Transform the lives of Black people; Embody the spirit that has sustained the Black community.”
Black Women for Wellness (BWW)
Los Angeles, CA
Black Women for Wellness (BWW) is a community-based grassroots organization in Los Angeles, CA that works to address the health and well-being of Black women and girls through health education, empowerment, and advocacy. The organization started as a group of women who—concerned with the health and well-being of Black babies—teamed up with the Birthing Project to implement the Shangazi Program. This program matched pregnant women to mentors who coached parents from pregnancy until the child was at least one year old. Within 4 years of implementation, BWW began moving upstream to address systems and legislative policy by creating a California-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 1997.
Featured in this Communities Building Power for Health Case Study (CBPH) is Black Women for Wellness’ Kitchen Divas program: a healthy cooking interactive workshop/demonstration where participants get to work on recipes that encourage a healthier lifestyle. Through this program, BWW seeks to improve the dietary habits of Black families by training community members on how to prepare healthy vegetarian meals.
What Sparked the Kitchen Divas Program?
Today, more than half of Black women in America (54.8%) have obesity. Additionally, Black women suffer much higher rates of chronic diseases—such as heart disease and stroke, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, and hypertension—than their white female peers. These diseases and conditions are directly linked to stress, diet, and physical exercise.
Incorporating healthy food into one’s diet is difficult when healthy and affordable food is less readily available than cheap and unhealthy food in communities with high levels of disinvestment, such as South Central Los Angeles. In a recent interview with Praxis, Executive Director and Co-Founder of BWW Janette Robinson acknowledged this difficulty by saying: “If I wanted a pound of black cherries, it’s like $7.99 and up a pound. Ben & Jerry’s? Always on sale, $3.99. It’s not the easy choice. And that’s what happens in our communities. It becomes the easy choice to be unhealthy.” However, the price of food is not the only factor affecting the diets of Black communities with high levels of disinvestment; many of these communities lack grocery stores that sell fresh produce.
Other systemic issues create barriers to a healthy lifestyle for Black women, particularly around physical exercise. The lack of safe walkable areas like parks and trails inhibits many Black women from having a safe place to walk, run, and exercise. In addition to this, working-class Black women work more hours for less pay, providing very little time after work to prepare a healthy meal or set aside time for physical exercise.
To address these public health concerns for Black women on both the macro and micro level, Black Women for Wellness started the "Sisters In Motion" initiative, which aims to decrease rates of chronic disease and obesity through education, lifestyle change, prevention, and physical activity. Kitchen Divas is a project under the “Sisters in Motion” initiative.
Kitchen Divas is an educational program that provides healthy cooking workshops and demonstrations in a wide variety of community venues to maximize attendance and exposure—including churches, worksites, community centers, schools, clinics—throughout the Los Angeles area. A Kitchen Divas demonstration is typically held in front of an audience of 15 or more individuals. During the demonstrations, chefs model how to prepare healthy meal options and discuss healthy food purchasing and cooking tips for attendees to utilize at home.
Kitchen Divas workshops focus on helping participants prepare fruits and vegetables as part of healthy and delicious meals. In this interactive experience, participants have the opportunity to work on recipes and sample foods they often haven’t tried before in order to learn how to prepare and cook with those ingredients to make healthy meals at home. For example, Veronica Mayes-Jackson, Chief Kitchen Diva, has offered classes on how to extend food shelf life and other cooking strategies.
Kitchen Divas aims to maximize its reach through intentional engagement with community members who are considered underserved and underinsured. The nature of the program and its many settings allows for local residents who don’t feel comfortable attending in a clinic or hospital setting to join and learn fun and simple strategies to prepare and eat healthier foods. Attendees also gain the tools and knowledge necessary to continue to make healthy food purchasing choices in their daily lives outside of the Kitchen Divas workshop.
Despite the seemingly simple nature of a kitchen workshop series, county rules and regulations prevented BWW from diving into their hands-on programming to improve community health. Before BWW could implement their workshops, they first had to purchase insurance to cover any unforeseen accidents that might occur in a cooking workshop. BWW also struggled to find and recruit chefs that were willing to lead a cooking workshop and addressed this recruitment issue through face-to-face conversations and social media outreach. Once the chefs were identified and recruited, BWW then worked with them to identify appropriate courses on how to properly and sanitarily store, prepare, and serve food. These courses are a requirement by the County of Los Angeles for these chefs to be properly certified to run a cooking workshop.
In addition to complying with county policy, Black Women for Wellness had to find creative spaces to address the health needs of their community outside of a typical hospital or clinic setting. Years of discriminatory practices and abuse in the medical field have led to a lack of trust in the Black community for medical institutions. BWW partnered with churches, local businesses, schools, and community centers to host these workshops as a way to address the community’s dietary habits in a space residents would feel more comfortable.
Outcomes and Impact
Kitchen Divas is a 10-year old program that has had a lasting impact on XX families living in areas with high levels of disinvestment in Los Angeles." In 2018, BWW successfully led over 100 classes to encourage residents to improve their dietary habits. Participants have reported numerous positive health outcomes—such as weight loss, reduced fast food consumption, and more physical activity—after attending one or more Kitchen Divas workshops. Additionally, some participants have even reported a reduction and, in some cases, an elimination in medications taken to manage chronic disease--i.e. diabetes and high blood pressure-- as a result of their commitment to healthier dietary practices.
Best Practices And Insights Gleaned
Communities are often targets of education campaigns on healthier eating or more active living but these information campaigns do little to address the material environmental conditions that promote poor nutrition or decreased physical activity. Educating individuals around how to integrate healthier options in a way that works for their community context is one way to encourage individuals to take control of their personal health.
BWW recommends several pointers if your organization or foundation is interested in creating a program similar to Kitchen Divas that helps participants to strengthen their skills to take control of their health:
Create a participant intake form and waiver. The registration form should include questions around dietary restrictions and allergies, as well as questions to identify who participants are cooking for to get an idea of how much autonomy one has over meal selection. It is also important to inquire about any medications participants use regularly and to keep a record of these answers in order to track whether frequent participants have successfully transitioned off or reduced the dosage of medications.
Consider the language you use. If your organization wishes to conduct cooking classes around specific types of meals, for example, vegetarian meals, consider language that resonates with your community. BWW frames their meals as “plant-based food” to avoid the negative stigma of vegetarian meals that exists within segments of the community.
Shop in the community your participants live in. It is important that the chefs in your program do all of their meal prep shopping in the community where the workshop is taking place. Incorporating foods that are inaccessible to the community being served is counterproductive to the mission of helping participants to truly live healthier day-to-day lives. However, this local sourcing of ingredients creates a challenge as many of these communities lack grocery stores that carry the fresh produce necessary for Kitchen Divas fruit and vegetable-based culinary program. By ensuring that the food is purchased locally, the chefs are now able to share knowledge on the grocers that carry fresh produce to the participants as well as which stores should be avoided due to their lack of fresh food
Do your research and collect data consistently. Locating and securing funding for community programs such as Kitchen Divas is often a struggle for grassroots organizations. For this reason, it is important that your organization creates a constructive model for effectively collecting process and outcome data to convey the program’s community impact.
Be aware of your audience’s experience. BWW instructs all of their Kitchen Divas chefs to keep all of their recipes relatively simple so that participants feel empowered to attempt the dishes they learned in the workshop at home. Teaching a recipe with too many ingredients and several complicated steps may leave participants feeling overwhelmed. Recipes and their required ingredients should reflect the tastes popular in the community and also incorporate ingredients that are available.
Make your cooking class FUN! Kitchen Divas began as a way to expand cooking options for many of the founding members of the organization who were vegetarians. The women recognized the need for a program like Kitchen Divas through their own challenges to prepare shared meals that everyone could enjoy. The founders of BWW met the challenge with enthusiasm and that same energy should be present in your healthy cooking program.
Supplemental Materials from Black Women for Wellness
Black Women for Wellness Influencing the Public Health Narrative
Boston-area Youth Organizing Project (BYOP)
Boston Youth Organizing Project is a youth-led organization supported by adults, with a common purpose to increase youth power and create positive social change. BYOP goals are to improve the lives of young people, increase real political participation and build community.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, regardless of age, race, gender, class, sexuality, geography, citizenship status, and other qualities that often divide us. We believe that all people have certain unalienable rights, that among these are a life free of violence; a high-quality, respectful education that prepares us for our next steps; safe, adequate places to pursue recreation, and activities which develop our skills for our futures. BYOP is an organization of young leaders designed to pursue, establish and protect these truths and rights as necessary.” – BYOP website
Brave Heart Society (BHS)
Lake Andes, SD
The Brave Heart Society is the revival of a traditional cultural society for women and works tirelessly at “calling home the spirit of the culture.
“To enhance and preserve the Dakota/Nakota/Lakota culture for coming generations, thereby creating strong, competent, worldly families with a strong foundation of values, morals, and worldview.”
CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities
New York, NY
CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities is a pan-Asian community-based organization that has worked to build the power of low-income Asian immigrants and refugees in New York City since 1986.
“Through our organizing model of base-building, leadership development, campaigns, alliances, and organizational development we organize Asian communities to fight for institutional change and participate in a broader movement towards racial, gender, and economic justice."
Community Asset Development Redefining Education (CADRE)
Los Angeles, CA
CADRE is a community-based, membership parent organization in South Los Angeles founded in 2001. The organization is led by African American and Latino parents and caregivers whose children attend local schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). We work for systemic change by supporting grassroots South LA parents as the leaders in stopping the push-out crisis in schools serving low-income neighborhoods of color.
"Our mission is to solidify and advance parent leadership to ensure that all children are rightfully educated regardless of where they live. We seek to effect policy change and mobilize political will through new parent participation models that preserve and expand the right to education for all South LA children and youth." – CADRE website
Causa Justa::Just Cause
Causa Justa::Just Cause was formed in 2010 as the product of three different grassroots organizations (St. Peter’s Housing Committee, Just Cause Oakland, and People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER) in 2015). CJJC fights for tenant and immigrant rights in Oakland and San Francisco.
“Causa Justa::Just Cause builds grassroots power and leadership to create strong, equitable communities. Born through mergers between Black organizations and Latino organizations, we build bridges of solidarity between working class communities. Through rights-based services, policy campaigns, civic engagement, and direct action, we improve conditions in our neighborhoods in the San Francisco Bay Area, and contribute to building the larger multiracial, multi-generational movement needed for fundamental change.”
Chinese Progressive Association (CPA)
San Francisco, CA
Founded in 1972, Chinese Progressive Association (CPA) conducts tenant and worker organizing, youth and student organizing, civic engagement, and movement and alliance building for low-income Chinese immigrant communities in San Francisco.
“Chinese Progressive Association educates, organizes and empowers the low income and working class immigrant Chinese community in San Francisco to build collective power with other oppressed communities to demand better living and working conditions and justice for all people.” –CPA website
Christina Seix Academy (CSA)
CSA was founded in 2012 by Christina Seix as her life-long dream to create a private school for underserved kids. CSA provides children from single-parent households, and their families, a safe and nurturing environment through academic and family programming.
“To provide young children living with a single adult caregiver, beset by acute economic needs, a strong education, critical core values, and a safe environment, enabling them to become future leaders in their communities and beyond. All graduates of the academy will be on a natural track to some of the best high schools and four-year colleges in the US.” – CSA Website
Community Coalition (COCO)
South Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
The Community Coalition is a grassroots community based organization that was established in 1989 to create a more prosperous, safer and healthier South L.A.
To help transform the social and economic conditions in South LA that foster addiction, crime, violence and poverty by building a community institution that involves thousands in creating, influencing and changing public policy.
CJ's vision is to develop a cooperative network based in Jackson, Mississippi that will consist of four interconnected and interdependent institutions: an emerging federation of local worker cooperatives, a developing cooperative incubator, a cooperative education and training center (the Lumumba Center for Economic Democracy and Development), and a cooperative bank or financial institution.
“The broad mission of Cooperation Jackson is to advance the development of economic democracy in Jackson, Mississippi by building a solidarity economy anchored by a network of cooperatives and other types of worker-owned and democratically self-managed enterprises.” – Cooperation Jackson Website
Cultiva La Salud
Fresno, San Joaquin Valley, CA
Cultiva La Salud (translates to Cultivate Health) is a community-based grassroots organization in Fresno, CA. Cultiva La Salud (Cultiva) works to promote healthy eating and active living in communities with high levels of disinvestment, such as Southeast Fresno and similar neighborhoods throughout California’s Central Valley. Cultiva organizes and advocates for health-related efforts addressing a wide range of systemic issues and barriers to healthy living, such as improving equitable investment in community initiatives that support biking and walking, as well as trying to unlock school gates so that residents who live in neighborhoods without safe and quality parks have access to a safe place to play.
This Communities Building Power for Health Case Study (CBPH) features Cultiva’s “Vendors for Health” program: mobile bike vendors that sell fresh fruits and vegetables in targeted neighborhoods. Through this initiative, Cultiva is not only improving healthy food access and options, but they are also changing city and state policies to create business opportunities for residents in communities with high levels of disinvestment. Cultiva hopes to expand and inspire others to embrace business models that promote health throughout the Central Valley, and more broadly, to reduce the economic barriers contributing to health inequities.
What Sparked the Vendors for Health Program?
Cultiva’s staff created the program to address the following health challenges in Southeast Fresno:
A lack of access to healthy food, such as fresh produce, in food insecure neighborhoods and the overabundance of unhealthy food choices
Economic insecurity in the Central Valley
Systemic health and wellness issues disproportionately affecting Latinxcommunities
Despite being the heart of California’s farming industry, over a third of households in the Central Valley live in a “food desert”, or experience food apartheid, which means they lack access to grocery stores that sell affordable and nutritious food and have an overabundance of fast food options and convenience stores. A California Department of Food and Agriculture report compiled data gathered by Map the Meal Gap noting that “while food insecurity is prevalent throughout the Central Valley, specific populations often face higher rates of food insecurity, including children, the elderly, the homeless, and college students. For example, almost 1 in 3 children living in Fresno County is food insecure, putting Fresno in the top 10% of US Counties for child food insecurity.”
Cultiva La Salud actively works to improve health in their local community and beyond. A large proportion of Southeast Fresno’s Latinx, African American, and Asian communities are disproportionately impacted by higher rates of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Statistically, it is more likely for communities of color to be impacted by higher rates of adverse health outcomes in general. One recent study from the Lancet found that the lifetime risk of developing diabetes has risen for Black and Latinx children to exceed 50 percent. The fact that Southeast Fresno experiences food apartheid reinforces the unhealthy food choices that result in such disproportionately high rates of chronic disease. Data from a recent Communities of Excellence in Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity Prevention survey highlighted:
“[N]ot a single store in this neighborhood [Southeast Fresno] met the state standards of a quality store. Of the eight stores that were surveyed, a majority of them promoted unhealthy foods, many did not offer a variety of fruits and vegetables and/or priced their produce above the state's affordable rate.” - Cultiva La Salud
According to a CDC Report assessing disparities in access to healthier food:
“Several strategies might improve community access to retailers that sell healthier foods. Such strategies include incentives to bring healthier food retailers into underserved areas, transportation improvements so that residents in underserved areas can reach the food retailers, and upgrading facilities to enable stocking of all forms of fruits and vegetables and to increase shelf space dedicated to fruits and vegetables, ultimately increasing the availability of high-quality, affordable fruits and vegetables in existing venues.”
As demonstrated in our video above, Cultiva’s Vendors for Health program addresses each of critical needs to improve the availability of healthy options and promote positive health outcomes in the Fresno community and beyond. Mobile bike vendors sell fruits, vegetables, prepared salads and fruit bowls directly to the community as a way to provide residents with access to affordable fresh produce. Additionally, Vendors for Health provides the opportunity for residents who live in these food insecure zones to create micro-businesses that they own and operate themselves, thus driving community involvement in solutions.
Through their Vendors for Health program, Cultiva is addressing, at multiple levels, an unjust food system that prevents the very people who work in the fields from accessing the fruits and vegetables they harvest. Cultiva understood that members of the community were interested in selling fresh produce through a micro-business model, but they were prevented from doing so by existing city ordinances—specific sanitation requirements for food preparation and limitations on time spent in a given area—that made it difficult to work as a mobile bike vendor.
Cultiva La Salud worked to change these city policies and procedures by identifying barriers to accessing the food economy and then finding solutions, beginning with addressing the language barrier. Despite half of Fresno’s population being Latinx and a large number of Spanish speakers, many city documents were only available in English. Cultiva staff translated city documents to make them accessible to Spanish literate residents. In addition, staff helped residents navigate the business license process, explained fees, and simplified the permit process to have a vendor cart.
Cultiva staff also lobbied to change laws that unfairly targeted mobile bike vendors. One such ordinance limited the time mobile bike vendors could be in an area to ten minutes, effectively barring them from setting up shop outside of community events or building a consumer base. Cultiva successfully changed the local ordinance to allow mobile bike vendors the opportunity to provide a fresh food option to food insecure neighborhoods and the broader community.
Even with a substantial policy shift, it remained difficult for mobile bike vendors to get involved in the food economy as another law stated that the food must be prepared in a city-approved kitchen. To make it easier for mobile bike vendors to obtain a business permit and comply with health codes regarding a sanitary space to prepare their produce, Cultiva found a home that serves as a kitchen and commissary facility. Opening this facility came about after collaboration with Food Commons Fresno, a community partner that sources produce from local farmers to build food access and business opportunity in Fresno. Cultiva partnered with Food Commons Fresno to share their space and allow mobile bike vendors to utilize the kitchen to prep food in compliance with the Environmental Health Department regulations.
Outcomes and Impact
Before Vendors for Health, many residents of Southeast Fresno had limited options for affordable, fresh produce. Cultiva’s solution of building community power through the mobilization of supporting local micro-businesses not only created another option for healthy food, but did it in a manner that centered community members as the solution, with an added bonus of generating economic opportunities and jobs.
Cultiva staff listened to community concerns and successfully lobbied for change in the City of Fresno’s Development Code. Building off of this success and in response to community input, the city of Fresno adopted a Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Resolution in 2015, which acknowledges the health impacts of city policy on promoting good health.
Best Practices and Insights Gleaned
If your organization or foundation is interested in creating a program similar to Vendors for Health, Cultiva recommends performing a community survey as a first step to see what the residents of your community need. While Cultiva identified mobile bike vendors as an effective solution in Fresno, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Understanding the community perspectives and context, and how community members want to address their own issues, will result in stronger solutions over the long-term.
A valuable approach, however, ensures that programs resulting from your community survey empower your residents, the local businesses, as well as the overall community. The solution to areas of public health concern are always remediable by the communities themselves, by partnering authentically and ensuring that the community has the resources they need to begin to address their own health.
Supplemental Materials from Cultiva La Salud
Cultiva La Salud Influencing the Public Health Narrative
1 The Oxford Dictionary defines "Latinx" as a gender-neutral alternative to Latino or Latina. Praxis uses this more inclusive language in support of the movement's Latin LGBTQ community, and the greater LGBTQ community, who often feel invisible in this work.
2 Many communities are transitioning from Food Desert to the term “Food Apartheid”. Deserts are a thriving, natural ecosystem, and, by nature, are unchangeable. Food Apartheid is more fitting, as a system of apartheid is the direct result of poor decision-making, and thus can be addressed and changed.
Diné Community Advocacy Alliance (DCAA)
DCAA was formed in 2011 as a response to the high rates of obesity, diabetes, and the complications of these health issues among children, youth, families, adults, and elders living in the Navajo communities. Navajo Nation is a 27,000-square-mile area in 3 states—Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. Mission
DCAA is comprised of grassroots level community health advocates from various communities to raise awareness, inform, educate, and mobilize community members to combat obesity, diabetes, and other chronic health issues.
DRUM South Asian Organizing Center
DRUM - South Asian Organizing Center (formerly Desis Rising Up and Moving) is a multigenerational, membership led organization of low-wage South Asian immigrant workers and youth in New York City that was founded in 2000.
“DRUM was founded to build the power of South Asian low wage immigrant workers, youth, and families in New York City to win economic and educational justice, and civil and immigrant rights.”
Fe y Justicia Worker Center (FJWC)
Fe y Justicia Worker Center is a safe space for low-wage workers to learn about their workplace rights and organize to improve working conditions. - FJWC's Website
Freedom, Inc. (FI)
Freedom, Inc. has engaged low income communities of color in Dane County, WI since 2003, working to end violence against people of color, women, those that non-traditionally gender identify, youth, and elders, to promote a healthy lifestyle.
“Our mission is to achieve social justice through coupling direct services with leadership development and community organizing that will bring about social, political, cultural, and economic change resulting in the end of violence against women, gender-non-conforming and transgender folks, and children within communities of color. FI works to challenge the root causes of violence, poverty, racism and discrimination. Our belief is that people who are most affected by these issues must have voice, power, resources and choice, in order for true social change to happen.”
Genders and Sexualities Alliance (GSA) Network
GSA Network helps LGBTQ students and straight allies organize GSA clubs focused on activism to create safer schools. GSA Network’s resources empower students to advocate for safe school policies, mobilize their peers to stand up for safety and equality, and train teachers to stop bullying. By providing in-depth leadership and activist training for youth, GSA Network is building a generation of leaders for LGBTQ rights and social justice. As a youth-driven organization, GSA Network brings the voices and perspectives of youth to the forefront of the LGBTQ movement. GSA Network’s successful youth-led organizing in California is a national model that is accelerating the growth and impact of the GSA movement nationwide.
"GSA Network is a next-generation LGBTQ racial and gender justice organization that empowers and trains queer, trans and allied youth leaders to advocate, organize, and mobilize an intersectional movement for safer schools and healthier communities."
– GSA Network website
Gwinnett stopp - school to prison pipeline
Communities Building Power for Health (CBPH) Video Feature: The Gwinnett Parent Coalition to Dismantle the School to Prison Pipeline, or Gwinnett Stopp for short. They have major impacts on their community and the education system by working to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline through shifting state and national policy and enabling parent and student advocacy and activism.
Please visit their website and Facebook page to learn more and find ways to donate or support: https://www.gwinnettstopp.org/
The Gwinnett Parent Coalition to Dismantle the School to Prison Pipeline (Gwinnett SToPP) formed to lead a parent-driven, community-centered partnership approach to dismantling the school to prison pipeline in Gwinnett County.
The mission of Gwinnett SToPP is to build and strengthen relationships with the community in two constructive ways – parent/community advocacy training and policy-change facilitation. - Website
Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO)
Founded in the 1960s, the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization has facilitated organizing campaigns that increased the resources and services available to families and residents of the North Kenwood and Oakland communities of Chicago. KOCO continues to develop new generations of African American leadership that will build stable, viable, and just communities where opportunity is not denied based on race or economic status.
Through the sustained engagement of low-income and working families, KOCO develops multi-generational leaders who impact decision-making processes and public policies, improving the quality of life in our local communities.
La Plazita Institute (LPI)
La Plazita Institute, Inc. is a non-profit grassroots organization in Albuquerque, NM. La Plazita engages New Mexico’s youth, elders and communities in a comprehensive, holistic and cultural approach.
"Designed around the philosophy of “La Cultura Cura” or culture heals, La Plazita’s programs engages New Mexico’s youth, elders and communities to draw from their own roots and histories to express core traditional values of respect, honor, love, and family." - LPI Website
Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO)
Since 1994, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization has strived to build a sustainable community that promotes the healthy development of youth and families, provide economic justice, and practice participatory democracy and self-determination.
“The mission of LVEJO is to organize with our community to accomplish environmental justice in Little Village and achieve the self-determination of immigrant, low-income, and working-class families.”
La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE)
César Chávez and Dolores Huerta founded LUPE, a community union, rooted in the belief that members of the low-income community have the responsibility and the obligation to organize themselves. Through their association, they begin to advocate and articulate for the issues and factors that impact their lives.
The Praxis Project is honored to share this story about the ways La Union del Pueblo Entero - LUPE is #BuildingPowerforHealth in our latest Communities Building Power for Health video!
LUPE is removing barriers to health care and helping provide vision exams for entire communities using their Mobile Health Clinics through partnerships with local healthcare organizations!
Menikanaehkem (Menominee Tribe)
Menikanaehkem (Menominee Tribe) of Wisconsin has over 8,500 members worldwide. The Menominee Reservation, located in Northeast Wisconsin, shares with Menominee County nearly congruent geopolitical boundaries that encompass our 235,523 acres.
Provide a platform for multi-generational community engagement geared towards holistic health and wellness.
Miami Children's Initiative
Liberty City, Miami, FL
Miami Children's Initiative was founded in 2006 and seeks to break the cycle of poverty in Liberty City, Miami with a “block-by-block approach”, and by focusing on the growth and development of the cities youth. Through the establishment of community partnerships, MCI is able to provide after school and summer programming, as well as family social services, which contribute to the ongoing upward mobility of Liberty City and creation of community spaces to enhance the youth and families ability to thrive.
“To create a community-based network that develops, coordinates and provides quality education, accessible health care, youth development programs, health and nutrition supports, opportunities for employment and safe neighborhoods for the children and families in Liberty City.” – MCI website
Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project (MICOP)
Since 2001, the Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project (MICOP) has developed various interactive and participatory programs to help the large population of Mixtecs in Ventura County overcome everyday obstacles and build community pride.
“To aid, organize and empower the indigenous community in Ventura County.” - MICOP website
Mothers on the Move (MOM)
South Bronx, NY
Mothers on the Move/Madres en Movimiento (MOM) is a member-led community organization which was founded in 1992 as a vehicle for low-income people of color to take strategic leadership in campaigns to transform ourselves and our communities.
“MOM envisions a society where resources and benefits are equally shared, and where people play a role in community decision-making in proportion to the degree they are affected. We are fighting for a South Bronx where future generations have clean air, well-resourced & community-controlled schools, safe streets, green space, good jobs and more control over the wealth that their labor creates.”
Nollie Jenkins Family Center, Inc.
NJFC visualizes an energized and involved community where all people, young and old, are valued, nurtured and supported as we work together to build and sustain communities that are purposeful in ensuring that the environmental, political, cultural, recreational, educational, economic, and spiritual needs of its citizens are actualized and preserved.
NJFC's mission is to empower the African American citizens of the community by developing and supporting grassroots leaders, community organizers, parents, students, as well as community-based organizations so that they have the necessary tools/skills of community organizing, advocacy, and activism to increase family engagement, build for meaningful social change, effectively impact local and state policy, family and governance structures; and build stronger/sustainable organizations and communities.
Organization for Human Right & Democracy (OHRD)
Founded in 2014, the Organization for Human Rights and Democracy (OHRD) (formerly, the Atlanta Public Sector Alliance) engages in multi-issue, grassroots, radical, and intersectional human rights organizing to transform communities and the world using Metro-Atlanta as the model.
“We are guided by the lived experiences, the activism, and the knowledge of Black feminists and women of color. We prioritize working-class people of color and the conditions they experience to build movements and an institution for change. Using education and action, we address deeply rooted matters of gender, disability, economic, racial, and environmental justice driven by political independence and human rights principles. OHRD articulates a new vision for how Metro-Atlanta and the world will realize, protect, and expand our human rights. We empower our members to become leaders armed with political analysis and a personal/political approach to building power for comprehensive and holistic liberation.”
Padres y Jóvenes Unidos (PJU)
Padres & Jóvenes Unidos is a multi-issue organization led by people of color who work for educational equity, racial justice, immigrant rights and quality healthcare for all.
Build power to challenge the root cause of discrimination, racism and inequity by exposing the economic, social and institutional basis for injustice as well as developing effective strategies to realize meaningful change.”
Philadelphia Student Union (PSU)
Philadelphia Student Union is a youth led organization that was established in 1995.
“The Philadelphia Student Union exists to build the power of young people to demand a high quality education in the Philadelphia public school system. We are a youth led organization and we make positive changes in the short term by learning how to organize to build power. We also work toward becoming life-long learners and leaders who can bring diverse groups of people together to address the problems that our communities face.” – PSU website
San Francisco, CA
After 5 years of organizing and gathering community input, PODER unveils Hummingbird Farm! The opening ceremony unveiled the new name and gathered the community to feast and plant seeds on the land around the farm. The event was hosted by PODER and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, and is an excellent example of what an organization can accomplish through building power with their community to create health and food equity!
Resilience Orange County (ROC)
Santa Ana, CA
The mission of Resilience Orange County is to promote resilient youth leaders that engage in the critical work of building youth-oriented institutions in Orange County. We are a youth oriented institution that works towards social-systemic transformation while promoting healing, trauma-informed and culturally relevant practices that are inclusive of all members of the community
“...To promote resilient youth leaders that engage in the critical work of building youth-oriented institutions in Orange County. We are a youth oriented institution that works towards social-systemic transformation while promoting healing, trauma-informed and culturally relevant practices that are inclusive of all members of the community."
Rosebud Economic Development Corporation (REDCO)
The Rosebud Economic Development Corporation (REDCO) is a tribally chartered corporation owned by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, home of the Lakota Sicangu Oyate, (burnt thigh nation). In 1999, the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Government took a tremendous step forward by establishing REDCO, a corporation independent from local politics designed spur the local economy.
“REDCO’s mission is to generate Rosebud Sioux Tribal government revenues and promote economic development in the region. Our mission is accomplished in three ways. First, REDCO serves as the primary holding and development company for the Tribe, managing 14 difference subsidiary companies. Second, REDCO assists the Tribe in economic policy analysis and development. Finally, REDCO engages in signature community development projects.” – REDCO website
New York, NY
For 15 years, the Sikh Coalition has defended Sikh civil liberties in the courtroom, classroom, community and halls of Congress. Whether it’s working to secure safer schools, prevent hate and discrimination, create equal employment opportunities, or empower local Sikh communities, the Sikh Coalition’s goal is working towards a world where Sikhs, and other religious minorities in America, may freely practice their faith without bias and discrimination.
“Through the community, courtroom, classroom and halls of Congress, we are working towards a world where Sikhs, and other religious minorities in America, may freely practice their faith without bias and discrimination. We strive to do this with integrity (sach) and selflessness (seva) – while knowing that our work can require unrelenting perseverance (sangarsh) on campaigns that can last years. We will always strive to do the right thing, even when it is not easy, clear or quick to reach that conclusion.” --The Sikh Coalition Website
Southeast Asian Coalition (SEAC)
The Southeast Asian Coalition of Central Massachusetts, Inc. (SEAC) was founded in 1999 and established as a non-profit agency in 2001 to address the lack of culturally and linguistically appropriate support services for Southeast Asian Immigrants in Central Massachusetts, which includes Laotians, Cambodians, and Vietnamese. SEAC's mission is to assist Southeast Asians in Central Massachusetts successfully integrate into mainstream society while maintaining their unique cultural identity.
“Providing assistance in the area of educational and job training, economic, as well as emotional, social and cultural support to enable Southeast Asians to successfully mainstream into American society; linking the Southeast Asians and the American community. Supporting the Cultural heritage of the different Southeast Asian cultures represented in the Greater Worcester community.” – SEAC website
SouthWest Organizing Project (SWOP)
SWOP - We seek to redefine power relationships by bringing together the collective action, talents, and resources of the people within our communities. We work primarily in low-income communities of color to gain community control of our land and resources.
"The SouthWest Organizing Project was founded in 1980 by young activists of color to empower communities in the Southwest to realize racial and gender equality and social and economic justice.”
Tule River Indian Health Center
TRIHCI is a non-profit organization founded in 1973 and dedicated to meeting the healthcare and health education needs of Native American communities in Tulare County.
"Our mission is to improve the health status and quality of life of those we serve." – TRIHCI website