Grassroots Voices for
Economic Justice

a project of the Center for Community Change Action

Federation of Child Care Providers Alabama (FOCAL)

Moral Economy Summit in Kansas City

Moral Economy Summit in Kansas City

On May 18-19th, Communities Creating Opportunity (CCO) in Kansas City, MO, convened the “Moral Economy Summit:  Race, Citizenship and Power.” The summit prepared participants, congregations, community and civic leaders to build a moral economy through activating and claiming citizenship; leadership in racial equity and structural inclusion; winning community-led victories, regionally and nationally in gender-and-race-focused policies for full employment, comprehensive early learning education, access to fair lending, and structural inclusion through representation and leadership.
Sophia Bracy-Harris was the keynote speaker. She shared her reflections on her more than 40-year experience as the founder and executive director of the Federation of Childcare Centers of Alabama (FOCAL) and the legacy of racism and slavery that continues to hurt our country.  Sophia put forward a hopeful vision for “healing” and for a comprehensive childcare system in this country that is good for children, parents and childcare workers.

FOCAL Grassroots Ambassadors kick off Medicaid expansion work

FOCAL Grassroots Ambassadors kick off Medicaid expansion work

Retirement Security partner, Federation of Childcare Centers of Alabama (FOCAL) kicked off their 2014 Medicaid Expansion Campaign and petition in collaboration with the SOS Coalition during the Bloody Sunday March in Selma, Alabama.

Thousands attended the march in commemoration of the 1965 attack on hundreds of voting rights marchers, including members of North Carolina’s Movement Building Circles who spoke about their role in the Moral Monday Movement. At the event, FOCAL leadership and Grassroots Ambassador Alicia Foster prepared to train over 60 childcare workers, union members and coalition partners as petitioners for the march and in their respective communities. FOCAL collected 1,000 petitions towards the 10,000 petition goal, which demands that Alabama’s Governor accept the funds to expand Medicaid, which would cover an estimated 200,000 Alabamians currently without insurance. The coalition plans to deliver the petitions to Governor Bentley in late May.

[Photo at left: Community leaders participated in a FOCAL training prior to the march]

FOCAL meets with Rep. Terri Sewell

FOCAL meets with Rep. Terri Sewell

Congresswoman Terri Sewell hosted a series of “Congress in your Community” Town hall meetings in late February. The idea was to bring the many different groups together to discuss issues and solutions to the districts concerns and provide updates from federal level.
IMG_23261

Retirement Security fellows from FOCAL had an opportunity after the town hall to speak one-on-one with the Congresswoman, to address “Scrap the Cap” and the Caregiver Credit and to solicit her thoughts on the current Chained CPI talks in Congress. Congresswoman Sewell said she was happy to hear from us and that when the opportunity presented itself she would be on board with scrapping the cap. She reiterated that it is the low to moderate income families, working and retired, who need income equity.

Groups from across US participate in successful Retirement Security convening

Groups from across US participate in successful Retirement Security convening

From December 9-11 nearly 90 people — primarily grassroots leaders but also staff from CCC and partner organizations — came together in Washington DC to advance our retirement security campaign.  Approximately 20 organizations from 16 states took part in the national convening which included some dynamic panel discussions, multiple protest actions, a press conference with the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and a meeting with one of our biggest Social Security champions, Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio.  In addition to the many state-based organizations — from Washington CAN in the Northwest to the Federation of Child Care Centers of Alabama in the Southeast — seven leaders from the Manufactured Homeowner project also participated in the training, coming from Utah, Pennsylvania and Florida.

RS Meeting 1The gathering kicked off on Monday night with an exercise led by Akiba Bird, director of North Carolina Fair Share, that included drumming and chants and allowed participants to get to know each other and our shared values.  We were then joined by Sarita Gupta, the ED of Jobs with Justice and a leader of the Caring Across Generations campaign, who talked about ways to better connect our respective struggles.

The next morning, it was the Grassroots Ambassadors themselves who took center stage, speaking at two separate panels about the successes and challenges over the course of the 2013 campaign to strengthen Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  IMG_20131210_094144We were also joined by various leaders from national partner organizations: Alex Lawson of Social Security Works; Terry O’Neil of the National Organization of Women; Maya Rockeymoore of Global Policy Solutions; and John Adler of SEIU.  We wrapped up the day by digging into our 2014 program and strategy and preparing ourselves for the next year of battle.

December 11 was our day to hit the streets. The full group arrived early to the Capital Visitors Center for a meeting with Senator Sherrod Brown from Ohio.  It was an opportunity to thank one of the emerging Social Security champions as well as share stories and strategies.  Next up was a protest action outside the office of the think tank Third Way which has been on the attack against Social Security and progressive Democrats like Brown and Elizabeth Warren who have called for expanding the system (watch video of the action here.)

IMG_20131211_145959Throughout the afternoon leaders met with their respective Representatives and Senators on Capital Hill, and the gathering culminated with a successful press conference organized by the Congressional Progressive Caucus.  Members Raul Grijalva, Keith Ellison and Jan Schakowsky stood alongside leaders from Illinois, Washington, North Carolina and Montana to talk about the need to hold the line against cuts to social programs and continue the fight for a better budget deal.  Check out pictures of the press conference as well as the rest of the convening here.

Senator Brown with leaders from Ohio
Senator Brown with leaders from Ohio

 

FOCAL meets with Sewell’s office

FOCAL meets with Sewell’s office

The Federation of Child Care Providers of Alabama (FOCAL) had a group of Grassroots Ambassadors attend a meeting with Congresswoman Terri Sewell’s office on November 25. They laid out four points from the White Paper “Expanding Social Security Benefits for Financially Vulnerable Populations” on why Social Security should be improved, and got a good response from the staff, laying the ground for future engagement.

SE Grassroots Ambassadors gathering – video recap

SE Grassroots Ambassadors gathering – video recap

This is a presentation from the SE Regional Grassroots Ambassadors Meeting held in Raleigh, NC, June 21-23, 2013.  Groups participating included the Federation of Child Care Providers Alabama (FOCAL), the Federation of Southern Coops (FOSC), Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI), North Carolina Fair Share CDC, and the Welfare Rights Organization (WRO- Louisiana).

Videography & Production done by BeautifulByDesignArt.com