What We Are Learning

Empowerment Tools

March 15, 2018

Together or individually, the stories in the Empowerment Tools section provide powerful starting points for dialogue that can lead families to advocacy and action.

Power of an Equal Voice

Inspired by the individuals and grassroots groups working to bring about equal opportunity for all families, the Power of an Equal Voice: Resource Videos for Family Empowerment illustrate the connections between the individual and the collective in creating lasting change—in one community and the next and, eventually, across the nation. The three video profiles in the series bring the Equal Voice for America’s Families National Family Platform to life as low-income families and grassroots groups advocate on their own and others’ behalf in Kentucky, California and Texas.

Each story demonstrates the three levels of Equal Voice movement building:

  • Individual empowerment
  • Organizational empowerment
  • Network-based empowerment

Together or individually, the stories in the Power of an Equal Voice: Resource Videos for Family Empowerment provide powerful starting points for dialogue that can lead families to advocacy and action. This website provides additional resources that organizations and families can use with the videos to inspire and empower low-income families to advocate on their own behalf. Click the link below to download the discussion and facilitation guide.

“The Power of Voice”

Tayna Fogle seemed to be on a path out of poverty when addiction caused her to lose her family, friends, community, self-esteem and, most important, her voice. When she pulled herself out of the cycle of addiction after a stint in prison, she struggled to regain what she had lost, starting with her right to vote. By helping others regain their right to vote, Tayna regained her own self-worth, a sense of empowerment and reconciliation with her family and community.

“The Power of Membership”

Caroline Topeé grew up in a financially stable family and took her financial security for granted. Then came the day when she realized that, to protect her daughter, she needed to leave her abusive marriage. Caroline took on several jobs just to stay afloat, which had repercussions for her daughter and their relationship. Parent Voices, a parent-led, parent-run grassroots organization in California, helped provide Caroline with the tools and knowledge she needed to advocate on behalf of her daughter and herself, alongside thousands of other parents across the state and the country grappling with similar challenges.

“The Power of Collective”

Miss Elsa had never thought of herself as a community organizer, but when Hurricane Dolly destroyed her family’s home in South Texas, she knew she had to do something to stand up for her family and her community. She joined a local grassroots organization, part of a network of 10 organizations that collaborate across issues of concern to low-income families in the region. Through her work with the Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network, Miss Elsa has blossomed into a powerful community leader who has helped ensure that public funding and jobs for disaster reconstruction go to low-income families.

Maria Full of Hope

Out of the Equal Voice for America’s Families campaign — which brought together 30,000 people to create the Equal Voice for America’s Family National Family Platform to advance family-friendly policies — The Equal Voice Youth Empowerment Project was a inspire young people around the country, give them tools to identify and understand the issues that mean the most to them, and support organizations and educators who are devoted to engaging youth nationwide.

Through events developed in partnership with community-based organizations, Active Voice – a team of communications specialists that uses film, television and multimedia to spark social change – put together tools to use the short documentary Maria Full of Hope to connect youth to the transformative power of community work. We encourage communities to use the following resources to empower youth to become active participants in improving their communities.

Visit these resources to get a free DVD and more information:

Raising Hope: The Equal Voice Story

From 2007 to 2009, a documentary film team from Onda Films, headed by Maria Bures, journeyed with five families as they participated in the Equal Voice for America’s Families campaign. The result was Raising Hope: The Equal Voice Story, a full-length film that was broadcast nationwide in collaboration with Latino Public Broadcasting and 14 local public television stations.

Beginning with the stories of five households striving to lift themselves out of poverty, the film shows how more than 30,000 low-income families came together to create a national platform of policy solutions for America’s families. Raising Hope shows how working families are uniting to take control over their futures and challenge America to live up to its promise of equality and opportunity for all.

Resource and Facilitation Guide

Active Voice, a San Francisco team of strategic communication specialists, developed an outreach strategy around the film to engage communities in discussions of poverty and inequality in the United States. Download the resource and facilitation guide.

Equal Voice: Alzando Nuestras Voces para Nuestras Familias

Equal Voice: Alzando Nuestras Voces para Nuestras Familias es un retrato íntimo de la desigualdad en los Estados Unidos y cuenta la inspiradora historia de la Voz de la Igualdad para las Familias de América, una campaña encabezada por familias para crear conciencia acerca de los problemas que afectan a las familias pobres y trabajadoras en todo el país. Empezando con las historias de cinco familias y su lucha por salir de la pobreza. La película muestra como 30,000 familias de bajos recursos se unen en sus ciudades y pueblos para crear una plataforma nacional de soluciones políticas para las familias de América. “Equal Voice” muestra cómo se unen las familias trabajadoras para tomar control de sus futuros y desafía a América a cumplir sus promesas de igualdad y oportunidad para todos.

Empowerment Tools