5 Organizations Empowering Marginalized Communities In California

California is home to a very diverse population, with a significant number of residents who are underrepresented by our present forms of social organization. This list, presented in no particular order, highlights some institutions working to improve the lives of marginalized populations in the Golden State.

Kicking off the list at #1 is East Bay Housing Organizations, or EBHO. Its mission is to ensure that all people in Alameda and Contra Costa counties have a safe, healthy, and affordable place to call home. The group's Resident Organizing Program seeks to empower tenants to become affordable housing advocates. This committee runs leadership trainings and engages residents in local policy and neighborhood decisions.

EBHO's Faith and Justice Committee develops and maintains collaborative relationships with faith communities, leaders, and inter-religious organizations. The committee's goal is to advance housing rights through the engagement of these groups in policy advocacy campaigns and participation in the movement for housing justice.

Taking the #2 spot is the Chinese Progressive Association. This nonprofit works to educate, organize, and empower the low-income and working-class immigrant Chinese community in San Francisco to build collective strength with other oppressed communities to demand better living and working conditions and justice for all people.

"Organizing has always been key to liberation efforts for several oppressed groups, whether it be through planning solidarity marches, mutual aid efforts, or even approaching government leaders. There are several groups doing this work in Asian-American communities including the AAFC, Stop AAPI Hate, the APEN, the Chinese Progressive Association, Womankind, Filipino Cultural Center, the Southeast Asian Community Alliance, and others. Lai Wa Wu of the Chinese Progressive Association said that participating in such groups is a great way to be an active ally to Asian American communities."
- Char Adams, reporter for NBC BLK

Founded in 2009 by CPA youth leaders, Youth MOJO is a leadership development program for high school students with a focus on low-income Chinese American young adults. Through the program, participants meet weekly and can develop and strengthen their leadership, public speaking, communication, advocacy, and organizing skills.

The #3 entry is AbilityFirst. Operating in the greater Los Angeles area, it has over two dozen facilities that support individuals with physical and developmental disabilities through after-school enrichment programs, job training, community employment, and affordable and accessible housing.

AbilityFirst runs one of the first fully accessible camps in the United States, Camp Paivika. Located in the San Bernardino National Forest, it offers overnight summer programs for children and adults with mild to severe developmental and physical disabilities such as autism, ADHD, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and Down syndrome.

Coming in at #4 is Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, an immigrant-focused philanthropy-supporting organization. It works with its member institutions, individual grantmakers in its network, partners in the field, and others to mobilize funder resources on the most pressing issues facing these marginalized populations.

The organization uses briefings, publications, and consultations to inform funders about policy developments and help them make the connection between their priorities and immigration. It connects funders from around the country to one another, with the hopes of catalyzing coordinated and collaborative grantmaking for maximum impact.

To close our list at #5 we have the Greenlining Institute, a policy, research, organizing, and leadership organization fighting for racial and economic justice. It works on various major legislative issues, such as environmental policy, health care, and more.

Headquartered in Oakland, California, Greenlining runs a Leadership Academy that works to train and empower the next generation of multi-ethnic leaders to create positive social change. It offers three programs designed for young leaders seeking to reach their full potential.