From Theory to Action
In 2007, we asked what a family-led movement taken to a national scale would look like. The Equal Voice for America’s Families campaign was a profound test of the Foundation’s theory of movement building, and a watershed moment in the family-led movement to end poverty in America.
Widening the Circle
The first step was engaging as many families as possible, to hear from them about their needs and the core issues they and their communities face. In partnership with 250 grantee organizations in 12 states, the Foundation held a series of 65 town hall meetings across the country. From churches, coffee shops and community centers across the country, we heard from parents, grandparents and youth. We heard from domestic workers and child care workers; from farm workers and factory workers.
In a year’s time, the campaign mobilized more than 30,000 families and organizations across the country. The goal was to achieve a sustained shift in national attitudes and policies affecting poor and working families by:
- Creating a national platform of family issues that addresses issues of concern identified by families.
- Sparking a national dialogue about the policies and attitudes that have a negative impact on families.
- Ensuring that families are part of any such national discussion.
- Building a movement of families to bring about long-term change.
- Increasing civic engagement among families.
A Unified Voice
The Equal Voice campaign brought thousands of families together across the country, to identify their shared values and advocate on their own behalf at a national level. In June, 2008, the first-ever National Family Platform was adopted to address the challenges facing poor and low-income families and the policy changes needed to improve their economic well-being.
The first platform was hand-delivered by 150 families in Washington, DC in January, 2009. Today, the platform continues to evolve alongside the movement.
The Work Continues
The Equal Voice movement has demonstrated – and continues to demonstrate every day – that movement building is a viable grantmaking strategy to build and support community self-determination. The campaign spawned a digital platform for storytelling, Equal Voice News, the PBS documentary film Raising Hope: The Equal Voice Story and more than 30 grassroots networks for community engagement nationwide.