EveryAction users are on the forefront of social change - whether that’s providing core social services to individuals or mobilizing entire communities to action.
That’s why our EveryAction Hero this month is TOP – the Texas Organizing Project. I spoke with Mary Moreno, TOP’s Communications Director about the inspiring work they do to organize the state of Texas from the ground up.
"What kind of work does TOP do?"
Mary Moreno: At Texas Organizing Project, we organize communities of color across Texas. We start out organizing around small neighborhood issues, things as simple as a traffic lights or flooding problems, and we help communities come together to solve those problems and then we expand from there.
We work on all levels - municipal issues, county-wide issues, statewide, and national. Our main campaigns happening right now are focused on neighborhood opportunity, jobs, immigration, healthcare, and education.
"Where does TOP work?"
MM: We do our work in three cities - Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio. Texas is a huge state, but most people live in those three population centers. So, if we can win local ordinances and policy changes in those three places, we can effect a lot of people without having to spend resources working in vast areas statewide.
For example, in the Dallas area, we really focus our work on education. In Houston, jobs and immigration are our main campaigns.
"What campaigns or aspects of your work are you most proud of?"
MM: I think I’m most proud of the work we do with immigrants. We started working more on immigration in Houston and San Antonio when President Obama announced the DAPA/DACA ("deferred action") programs in 2014 - which are basically programs that allow certain immigrant moms, dads, and children who are undocumented a chance to stay in the country and receive a temporary work permit. Since then, our immigration work has really taken off and there’s so much energy around it.
The President’s executive actions on immigration energized the immigrant community to have this ray of hope for their families - but now they're tied up in the federal courts. So we’ve been really active mobilizing around that - we’ve gone to Austin to protest Governor Abbott (who filed the lawsuit to stop DACA/DAPA), we’ve marched outside the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, and we’ve had a bunch of large actions here in Houston.
We’re planning on going to DC this month for the Supreme Court hearing of the DAPA/DACA case on April 18th. People are just really excited about it!
In terms of direct community work, we’ve also been doing a lot of outreach to immigrant families - we’ve been knocking on a lot of doors and finding local immigrants who would qualify for DAPA/DACA - so when those programs eventually go into effect, people won’t be hesitant to apply. We’re going to continue doing that until it goes into effect, and also help people prepare their documents and consult with immigration attorneys for free so they don’t get exploited. It’s a lot of work, but it’s been really, really rewarding.
"How is online organizing and the digital space important to your work?"
MM: Online organizing is the lifeline of our work. It keeps us connected to our members, keeps us connected to our donors and supporters, and it's how we communicate with them regularly.
We do a weekly email newsletter that we send out to our whole list of over 22,000 supporters as a way to keep folks up-to-date, tell them about all the work we’ve done that week, invite people to events, and raise funds.
We use EveryAction to maintain contacts for our email list, for fundraising, keeping in touch with our members, supporters, and donors. It’s great and important for our work.
Specifically on the online fundraising side, for example, when we were going to protest outside the federal court in New Orleans, we raised much of the money we needed for our trip online through specific email asks. We’ve found that when we have a specific target and ask, people are much more willing to donate.
"What are you building in 2016?"
MM: I think one of the biggest things we’re building this year is our campaign around the Supreme Court case, and we’re also planning a huge march in Houston on May 1st for International Worker’s Day.
The November election is also going to be a big part of our work. We always take an active role organizing around elections and connect issues to voting. Our community realizes that we can only win on our issues if we have people in office who are champions of our causes. So, we use GOTV, phone-banking, canvassing, and targeting email as big parts of our election year work. We endorse candidates, and communicate to our supporters via email.
Our EveryAction Hero is a monthly blog series featuring clients that inspire us. Want to talk more about the work we do for TOP or find out how EveryAction can help your nonprofit? Click here to email Katie!