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Today’s problems call for co-creating power for transformative change. In this moment, as we all turn towards the 2020 elections, it is important to keep in mind that advancing enduring, equitable change will take more than strong voter turnout and good candidates—it will take building power towards transformative change. In this collection of Bright Spots, we highlight the collaborative and transformative approaches necessary for building power—approaches such as building networks rooted in authentic relationships, centering equity, and holding the complexity and intersectionality of issues impacting communities—and the impact of this work in California.

These three Bright Spots—alongside the broader story of civic engagement work in California as told in the report Vote, Organize, Transform, Engage (VOTE): New Frontiers in Integrated Voter Engagement by USC PERE—help us to envision the pathways towards stronger, more democratic, and equitable communities and states, and demonstrate the need for philanthropic support to sustain these urgent efforts in 2020 and beyond.

Shining the Light on California Calls and InnerCity Struggle: Values-Based Networks Accelerate Transformative Political Change

Networks of grassroots, base building, and civic and voter engagement organizations play a critical role in the power building ecosystem. This story shares how California Calls and their partner InnerCity Struggle integrate voter and civic engagement into ongoing organizing work and, in doing so, are linking the local to the statewide to knit together an equity-focused network with depth and scale.

Shining the Light on California Calls and InnerCity Struggle: Values-Based Networks Accelerate Transformative Political Change

Shining the Light on PICO California and Faith in the Valley: Weaving Together Communities Across the State to Create a More Equitable California

Advancing justice requires a power building infrastructure that is rooted in communities of color and low-income communities, connected by networks across the state, and anchored in a shared strategy. This story shares how PICO California and Faith in the Valley are weaving a network based on authentic relationships to address the impact of structural racism, systemic injustice, and white supremacy on communities of color, and are creating a political framework for understanding and building bridges between people with racial, ethnic, and religious differences to act together for policy and systems change.

Shining the Light on PICO California and Faith in the Valley: Weaving Together Communities Across the State to Create a More Equitable California

Shining the Light on Working Partnerships USA and Oakland Rising: Strengthening the Nexus of Voter and Civic Engagement and Economic Mobility

Building power consists of the ability to implement and sustain long-term change that can further economic, social, and racial equity to achieve justice and liberation. Working Partnerships USA and Oakland Rising demonstrate how to build power through engaging a base of over 62,000 residents using a new model of community-driven governance to advance economic mobility with a racial justice lens.

Shining the Light on Working Partnerships USA and Oakland Rising: Strengthening the Nexus of Voter and Civic Engagement and Economic Mobility

Building Power for Justice: Shining the Light on Grassroots Efforts in California

This is the compilation of all three Bright Spots.

Design Credit: Simone Rein