Our conversations with community members nationwide regarding the issues and hardships they endure do now fall on deaf ears. When a systemic issues arises that we can assist in addressing, we do.
So far, we've introduced, advocated for, led or assisted in the effort to pass over 30 critical pieces of legislation in several jurisdictions nationwide.
The following are examples of some successful efforts:
- Ensuring people get counsel and aren't in jail simply because of their inability to pay via a Comprehensive Bail Reform in IL
- Increasing access to job opportunities for the currently or formerly homeless, justice-involved or in foster care
- Bringing in "Good Government" laws in MO to help curtail corruption and misconduct
- Providing entrepreneur education in prison
- Making educational and personal development resources available to our inmates via content-controlled tablets
- Stopping the price-gouging of inmates and families trying to make video calls or visit via video
- Ensuring greater access to video visitation for inmates and their loved ones
- "Banning the Box" from private employer applications via the Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act
- "Banning the Box" from public employer applications
- Multiple bills (1 & 2) that remove the barriers that prevent rehabilitated men and women with past mistakes from accessing jobs or occupational licenses
- Requiring that courts properly informing people of the life-changing collateral consequences of a conviction before they plead
- 5 Bills that permit judge's to limit access to old records to only those deemed necessary by the legislature (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
- Helping to preserve a measure to close multiple prisons
- Ensuring fair consideration of some occupational license applications
Invest in Community & Art as a Truth-Teller
This is all premised on two understandings:
Art is the best truth-teller.
Immersing oneself in communities is the best way to serve communities.
Specifically, as it relates to Community Immersion, Social Change has:
- Housed its headquarters and all events in underserved communities
- Provided resource guides and over 400 meals, 2,000 garments of clothing and 3,000 hygiene products to those in need in Chicago, NY and LA w/ One Heart One Soul and the Peggy Beatrice Foundation.
Specifically, as it relates to Art being used as a Truth-Teller, Social Change has:
- Used film and art as a vehicle to help people see and feel the hardships and hopes of men, women and youth worldwide by:
- Screening over 15,000 hours of films worldwide for consideration for our annual festival
- Showcasing over 175 inspiring films and other forms of art ranging from world premiering films to internationally renown poets and local artists
- Hosting over 4,000 award-winning filmmakers, actors and attendees from all over the world
- Moderating robust discussion among filmmakers, experts, attendees and more
- Providing dozens of action opportunities to ensure those interested can get engaged and do something to address the issues in the films shown and beyond
- Sponsoring an art exhibit with One Heart One Soul featuring the works of youth who have experienced seasons of homelessness
Giving Agency & Power to those Marginalized
PART 1: Teach EVERYONE 21st Century Tech Skills via BLUE1647
The best way to break the cycle of poverty, prison and violence is to give people a real alternative. We do that through BLUE1647 by providing all interested, not just those who can afford it, with the training needed to get the well-paying jobs of today and tomorrow.
So far, this effort has:
- Transformed over a dozen communities worldwide by providing 21st century tech training to over 16,000 students
- Served those who are often ignored or priced out by others who provide tech training - with 95% of those served being at-risk youth, seniors, minorities and others underrepresented in tech
- Helped trainees do everything from start their own businesses and become fully-employed at top tech firms to become scholarship recipients or even tech trainers themselves at BLUE
- Launched a crowdfunding, rewards-based platform called Blue Fund Rewards to help entrepreneurs obtain the funds necessary to turn their ideas, skills, and work-ethic into a business
part 2: Teaching People About Their Rights & Legal Remedies
Training alone isn't enough if people still face legal barriers and discrimination. That's why we also help people:
- Know their rights;
- Learn how to pursue any available legal remedies when being discriminated against because of past mistakes;
- Acquire the legal assistance or other resources to help them follow-through on their legal, educational, or employment goals; and,
- Garner the advocacy skills necessary for them to overcome those barriers.
To this end, to date Social Change members have:
- Hosted more than 50 such legal seminars throughout IL and beyond
- Trained more than 1,000 people have received the training to date
- Helped more than 1,000 access needed legal assistance and other resources
- Trained individuals hailing from instituations and organizations such as the National Legal Aid & Defense Association, Community Assistance Program, Employer & Employee Services, Safer Foundation, University of Chicago Law School, and Northwestern Law School