6 Groups Fighting For Social Justice In California

As the most populous state in the country, California has millions of residents to care for. Despite being known for its progressive politics, many of its citizens still fall through the cracks. Luckily, several organizations are working to challenge existing, inequitable systems and create new policies to benefit communities of color, the working class, and other marginalized groups. In no particular order, this list shares several nonprofits organizing to improve the lives of all who reside in the Golden State.

At #1, we have Urban Habitat, a nonprofit in Oakland, California. It works to democratize power and advance equitable policies to create a just and connected Bay Area for the working class and communities of color. The organization's Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute trains and supports marginalized individuals to become activists able to influence legislation.

Urban Habitat's main areas of focus include transportation, housing, and land use. It seeks to increase the participation and leadership of low-income communities of color in decision-making related to these areas, in order to increase access to open public spaces and encourage the city and state to build healthy neighborhoods.

Next up, at #2, we find Californians United for a Responsible Budget, also known as CURB. It is a statewide coalition of 70 grassroots organizations that works to reduce the number of people in prisons and jails, shrink the imprisonment system, and shift public spending from corrections and policing to human services.

The organization's Executive Director, Amber Rose Howard, is a public speaker and organizer from Pomona, California. CURB organizes a variety of events to help people learn about and get involved in its work, such as campaigns targeted at elected officials, media blitzes, and demonstrations.

Coming in at #3, we present the Center for Environmental Health, based in Oakland, California. The organization's mission is to protect people from toxic chemicals by working with communities, consumers, laborers, government, and the private sector to demand and support business practices that are safe for public health and the environment.

For over 20 years, C.E.H. has won campaign victories that have made families safer. For example, it helped draft the law that took lead out of children's goods. In addition, it forced manufacturers to remove arsenic and other toxins from many items that families use every day, including water filters, diaper rash cream, candy, purses, children's medicines, play structures, and more.

For #4, we get the Dolores Huerta Foundation. Based in Bakersfield, California, the nonprofit works to recruit, train, organize, and empower grassroots leaders in low-income communities to attain social justice through systemic and structural transformation. The organization was named after its founder, Dolores Huerta, a prominent civil rights activist.

The Foundation hires and trains full-time activists who form neighborhood organizations called "Vecinos Unidos," which translates to "United Neighbors." Through this program, DHF has built a network of over 20,000 supporters, volunteers, and voters in the rural agricultural communities of California, such as Arvin, Lamont, Weedpatch, Greenfield, and Woodlake.

The #5 entry is the California Environmental Justice Alliance, a statewide, community-led group that aims to achieve ecology-driven justice by advancing policy solutions. Its goal is to unite its local members most impacted by environmental hazards, such as the working class and communities of color, to create ample opportunities for change at a statewide level.

C.E.J.A. aims to create policies that will alleviate poverty and pollution. It represents thousands of Asian Pacific American, Latino, and Black residents in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Inland Valley, and San Diego. Its work has been featured in the media many times, in outlets including Vice, Daily Kos, and Cal Matters.

Rounding out our list at #6 is Californians for Justice. With offices in Oakland, San Jose, Fresno, and Long Beach, it is a statewide youth-powered organization fighting to improve the lives of people of color, immigrants, the working class, LGBTQ individuals, and other marginalized groups.

It is the only grassroots organization in California that organizes youth to have a voice in both local and statewide education policy. The nonprofit leads the California Partnership for the Future of Learning, a statewide alliance of groups working for racial justice, equity, and improved public school conditions.