5 Dedicated Organizations Fighting For Social Justice

Systemic problems like racial prejudice, or the criminalization of poverty, require solutions that unite people around shared ideals of justice. Organizations of all kinds help ordinary people confront these issues through education, connections with allies, and advocacy that makes their voices heard. Listed in no particular order, the groups presented here promote efforts to build a more equitable society.

Opening our list at #1 is ArchCity Defenders, a holistic legal advocacy organization combating state violence against communities of color and those living in poverty. The group offers counsel to defendants in the St. Louis region who are unable to afford attorneys, and files suits to secure compensation for victims of police misconduct. It also challenges law enforcement practices that disproportionately impact the poor.

ACD partners with local activists to call attention to civil rights issues, organizing efforts like Close the Workhouse, a campaign protesting inhumane prison conditions, and advocating against the city's destruction of a homeless encampment. Its research reports highlight issues including segregation and environmental racism, while tools like the Pro Se STL guides help citizens understand their rights. The group offers clients a platform to share their experiences, and co-produces a podcast highlighting efforts for change in the community.

Following up at #2 is Color Of Change, an online racial justice organization that creates and promotes campaigns against oppression. This nonprofit has helped to build movements on issues such as police accountability, voting rights protections, and the use of social media to spread white supremacist rhetoric. Notable successes include securing a wage raise for Target employees, and prompting AirBNB to investigate discrimination on its platform.

The OrganizeFor program lets users create their own petitions, empowering campaigns for improvements like investigation into police shootings, reversal of fines for protesting, and increased citizen input in municipal budgeting. The platform also offers educational materials on techniques of effective digital advocacy. Color Of Change targets distortion and bias in the media via efforts like the research study Normalizing Injustice, which examines implicit racism in television shows about law enforcement.

At #3 we have the Milwaukee Turners, a civic organization that combines physical fitness training with the pursuit of social reform. Dating back to the nineteenth century, this society offers instruction in disciplines like gymnastics, rock climbing, and yoga, and also organizes community discussions about issues of inequality and injustice.

The Turners organize events like the Confronting Mass Incarceration series, which brings together expert panels to share strategies for prison reform. The group also hosts educational talks from writers on social justice topics, commemorates historical examples of injustice and resistance, and raises funds in support of efforts to call attention to oppression. Its annual Jane's Walk MKE event encourages residents to explore the city to better understand the challenges facing urban communities.

Coming in at #4 is the Reva and David Logan Foundation, a Chicago-based philanthropic enterprise that honors the legacy of its founders by providing grants to support social justice, the arts, and investigative journalism. It funds a diverse range of initiatives including One Million Degrees, which offers assistance to low-income community college students, and Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, a nonprofit serving a working class neighborhood in Southwest Chicago.

It funds a diverse range of initiatives including One Million Degrees, which offers assistance to low-income community college students, and Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, a nonprofit serving a working class neighborhood in Southwest Chicago.

Many of the Logan Foundation's grantees work to uncover and publicize injustice, such as the Invisible Institute or the Centre for Investigative Journalism. Others, like the youth mentoring programs Becoming A Man and Working On Womanhood, seek to uplift urban communities and combat poverty. A number of its arts-focused grant recipients include a social justice component in their work, like Young Chicago Authors, which provides creative writing opportunities to youth from all backgrounds.

Capping off the list at #5 is Urban Peace Movement, which builds youth leadership in Oakland to oppose violence and mass incarceration. Its Leaders In Training program helps young people advocate for public policy reforms, with campaigns including calls to prosecute police officers who commit civil rights violations, and ones advocating for budgets that prioritize community-building over prison expansion.

UPM helps form initiatives like the DetermiNation Black Men's Group, which helps participants transition away from incarceration, and creates programs for advocacy training and voter education. Research projects such as the Dream Beyond Bars Report share lessons about community organizing, and outreach campaigns like Stop the Killing, Start the Healing promote a cultural shift toward nonviolence and resilience.