Dear Justice Advocates,
Our nation has recently come through a long and tumultuous election season. People of every party identification were saddened, angered, and shocked as campaign statements were made that were undeniably racist, sexist, Islamaphobic, and insulting toward people with disabilities – to name a few concerns. We are a deeply divided state and nation, standing on the edge of an uncertain future.
Your Empower Missouri Board of Directors and staff have been wondering, like you, “what can we do to grow the social justice movement that is so needed in this time?” So we come to you today to share some of the commitments that we have made for building our capacity to secure basic human needs and basic fairness for neighbors on the margins. We ask you to join the effort by renewing your membership.
First, we take the “empower” in Empower Missouri seriously. As executive director, I am honored to be your registered lobbyist, testifying in hearings on behalf of Empower Missouri. But one voice is not enough; our number one job is to prepare YOU to be an effective advocate. Throughout the 2017 Legislative Session, you can depend on us for timely and trustworthy action alerts, letting you know which bills are moving, what’s in them, and what you can do to support passage or to stop a dangerous threat.
Secondly, we have a renewed commitment to reaching college and university students. We will be their source for evidence-driven policies that can reduce oppressive conditions like housing insecurity, biased policing and hunger, and we will offer legislative advocacy training to them. Our April 5, 2017 Student Advocacy Day is expected to exceed last year’s 200+ attendees due to this new focus.
Thirdly, we are piloting a new Organizational Partner Program during 2017. We know that many work in direct service organizations that are understaffed and on very tight budgets. They see the human suffering created by low wages, mental illness, and inadequate access to affordable housing, child care, health care, etc. These direct service workers are an invaluable finger on the pulse of our state, able to let lawmakers know if our policies are offering help or harm or both.
Direct service providers would like to do more to advocate for and with their clients, but they do not have the time to research the legislation that impacts the families they serve. They cannot afford a registered lobbyist to be their voice in the Capitol Building. We are a perfect solution for their challenge, providing eyes on the General Assembly and timely and reliable information on legislation in our key issue areas:
- Affordable Housing and Homelessness
- Criminal Justice
- Food Security
- HIV Laws
- Racial Equity
- Vehicle Stop Report
Fourthly, we are improving our advocacy curriculum for social justice advocates and making it available in multiple formats (three-ring-binders, PowerPoints, online, on mobile phones, etc.). This will be available for use in your chapter or task force, on campuses, at community trainings, and in the offices of our Organizational Partners.
Finally, you will see improvements in our website, action alerts, and use of social media in 2017. As technology evolves, we must keep up in order to have our desired effect on policymakers. We do not have to have all the bells and whistles of the wealthy special interests that flood our political system with donations from hidden sources. Indeed People Power can overcome the power of money – we have seen it time and time again. But it is also wise to use tools that save time and multiply impact.
A special capacity-building grant is being sought to underwrite the cost of several of these improvements. Grants are a wonderful help, but they also are not always a reliable source. In times of stock market upheaval – and some think we are entering such a period – foundations often have less funds to give and say no to many deserving proposals. Therefore, strong and consistent financial support from you, the justice advocates of Missouri, is necessary for us to be rock solid, a persistent and persuasive voice for justice.
How much are we asking? Our membership rates are flexible and may be adjusted to your household budget’s demands. What we do ask is that you invest an amount that is significant for your household. Justice is priceless, my friends. If it is within your means, won’t you give $50, $100, $250 or $500 today? Donate online – once or monthly – at: http://empowermissouri.org/donate/
Jeanette Mott Oxford
P.S. Some may wonder why we do our renewal appeal in the 4th Quarter instead of on the anniversary date of your first donation. 1) Having one annual appeal period saves hundreds of hours of office time (especially if you respond to the first notice); and 2) the Legislative Session begins in January, so 4th Quarter giving allows us necessary focus.