For our first #GivingTuesday, LSPC is focusing specifically on raising $25,000 for our Policy Academy’s Quest for Democracy Advocacy Day (#Q4D) in Spring 2016.
LSPC’s Policy Academy trains formerly incarcerated people throughout the state of California in basic legislative advocacy skills and then organizes opportunities for them to use their knowledge. The trainings give important background on mass incarceration and its disproportionate impact on communities of color, as well as information about legislative advocacy, community organizing and the California legislative process. Policy Academy monitors state legislative bills, write support/opposition letters, and engage in other advocacy as needed. To ensure the broadest base of support, we build and maintain relationships with supportive state policymakers and policy allies, as well as participating in CURB policy committee and advocacy activities. Since the Policy Academy’s launch in 2014, we have trained over 200 formerly incarcerated people and families with incarcerated loved ones in eight counties on how legislative and administrative policy processes work, and how they can impact policy adoption.
Throughout the year, the Policy Academy director, staff, interns, volunteers, and participants:
- Conduct policy trainings for families with loved ones inside and for formerly incarcerated people.
- Support training participants in providing written comments to legislators and legislative bodies, testifying in legislative committee hearings, and/or having other contact with public officials and their staff members.
- Sponsor legislation initiated by formerly incarcerated people and/or family advocates.
- Mentor and support emerging leaders to develop.
- Organize a statewide advocacy day for formerly incarcerated people and family members in Sacramento.
Thus, main activities and events that require funding include Bill Tracking, organizing and providing training, communications and organizing (including travel and housing expenses) for the Quest for Democracy Advocacy Day.
In Spring, hundreds of people travel from across California to participate in our annual Quest for Democracy Advocacy Days in Sacramento. Raising $25,000 through #GivingTuesday will allow the Policy Academy to hire a formerly-incarcerated organizer who, as a Policy Academy graduate, will take over the dedicated duties of directing the bill tracking as well as organizing training and the Advocacy Day itself. Funds will also be used to provide stipends for Policy Academy members to travel to and lodge in Sacramento, as well as work organizing and making the hundreds of hours of phone calls involved.
In 2014, state legislators adopted 38 policies that promote justice, healing and opportunity for communities harmed by mass incarceration. But the Policy Academy’s greatest achievement is its success in introducing our communities to the idea of civic engagement and increasing their access to the democratic process. Some participants tell us they never realized they could meet with their legislators or propose legislation. The project has demonstrated what we suspected would be true: formerly incarcerated people and families impacted by incarceration are hungry to engage in policy advocacy, and they have important ideas for how to change the system. As they assert their power, legislators are beginning to listen.
How can you help? Spread the word about LSPC’s #GivingTuesday campaign by sharing the link https://www.crowdrise.com/LSPCGivingTower and by using @LSPC_ and the hashtag #Q4D along with #GivingTuesday on social media.