Boston Worker Alliance: Updates CORI Reform Ordinance

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Project Update

Image Courtesy BWAIn 2005, the Boston Worker’s Alliance advocated for Boston’s first major ordinance that improves the Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) regulations for businesses that work with the city.

The law, heralded as a progressive national model, required City Vendors with contracts over $5,000 to adopt CORI friendly hiring policies. City Vendors were instructed to “Ban the Box,” and only check CORI when hiring for positions that were “sensitive” in nature.

In 2008, BWA received a grant from the Sociological Initiatives Foundation that helped them demonstrate that the ordinance was not being enforced or implemented effectively.  Starting in 2012, BWA members worked with the Office of Civil Rights to recommend new regulations to add education, investigation and enforcement teeth to the law.

The advocacy effort encouraged the Boston Mayor to adopt new regulations in 2013.  This announcement marked a major step forward for communities affected by unemployment, violence and incarceration. With an improved CORI Ordinance in place, people with CORI barriers will now have better opportunities to find work without being hindered by their past record.

The CORI Ordinance Campaign Allies also  included, the Union of Minority Neighborhoods, Stanley Jones Clean Slate Project, Mass Law Reform Institute, Greater Boston Legal Services, MassUniting, SEIU 1199, STRIVE, Former City Councilor Chuck Turner, and City Councilor Stephen Murphy.

Call for Concept Applications for 2014

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file1181333686868Call for Concept Proposals:  Action Research Projects

Deadline:  August 15, 2014

Amount:  $10,000 – $20,000

The Sociological Initiatives Foundation is dedicated to the belief that research and action are intrinsically inseparable.  We invite concept proposals for projects that link an explicit research design to a concrete social action strategy.  Projects should also have clear social change goals.

SIF has funded projects in the areas of civic participation, community organizing, crime and law, education, health, housing, immigration, labor organizing, and language/literacy.

Some examples of desired applicants are:

  • academic-community partnerships
  • advocacy or community groups that conduct research that can withstand challenge in academic and policy arenas
  • academics that organize or link to a constituency through their research

A limited number of concept applicants will be invited to submit full proposals in the fall of 2014.

Applicants chosen for funding will receive 60% of the funds immediately in January of 2015.  They will receive the remaining 40% after 11 months contingent upon submitting evidence that the project’s 11 month milestones have been met.

Our analysis of past grant recipients has shown that projects typically take two years, so applicants should think in terms of such a timeline.  The Foundation will also track projects and may choose to invite select grant recipients to apply for a second round of funding to enhance a project showing significant accomplishments in the previous two years.

Complete guidelines, information on past funded projects, and the on-line concept application are available on this site using the links above.

Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival: Bringing Our Languages Home

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Project Update

The Kawaiisu Language and Cultural Center and the Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival recently published Bringing Our Languages Home: Language Revitalization for Families.

Courtesy AICL

Courtesy AICL

The goal was to see if the tried-and-true Master Apprentice Language Learning Program could be adapted for families who wanted to learn together at home.

This project was supported by the foundation in 2008.

Foundation Announces 2013 Grants

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change ajeadThe recent grant awards of the Sociological Initiatives Foundation reveal a familiar list of concerns identified by communities in the U.S.

The research and community organizing projects supported by the foundation this year will investigate a wide range of issues.

Most of the projects link the research process with a grassroots advocacy campaign and typically involve a number of coalition partners in the effort.

To view the grants list, click here.

New Research for Organizing Toolkit

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RFOtype

Community Development Project of the Urban Justice Center in New York City launched the Research for Organizing (RFO) website and toolkit.

The site is designed for organizers and community members to build concrete research skills that can be applied to actual research projects they are working on within their organizations.

This toolkit includes a comprehensive set of popular education activities, tools, templates, and case studies for organizations to use in every phase of their participatory action research projects.

Find the toolbox here: http://www.researchfororganizing.org

 

Workers Defense Project: Building a Better Texas

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Courtesy Workers Defense ProjectThe Workers Defense Project in Austin, Texas won a federal investigation into Texas’ deadly construction industry by OSHA after they released a study about working conditions in the industry in Texas.

Under the initiative, OSHA conducted nearly 900 inspections throughout the state, resulting in over 1,500 citations and fines totaling almost $2 million.

The investigation resulted in a 60% increase in construction safety inspections throughout the state, saving countless lives.  To read the report, click here.

New Immigrant Community Empowerment: Dreams and Schemes in Queens New York

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QepbBVSJe34TFZv_MQzD2BKjpB7Y70maZPfktms2MOo 3Project Update

Dreams and Schemes in Queens New York  (October 2012)

The New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE) and the Community Develoment Project unveiled a new report, Dreams and Schemes in Queens, New York: Immigrant Struggles to Find Work and Get Status in the Face of Consumer Fraud.

Every day, immigrants in New York City struggle to find work, support their families and understand their immigration options. In this process, many seek assistance from a variety of services and businesses targeted at immigrant consumers.

This report focuses on two of the most prevalent and notorious: immigration service providers (ISPs)/immigration attorneys and employment agencies. The report is the result of comprehensive participatory action research, including an innovative methodology called “mystery shopping” where NICE members posed as consumers in order to track compliance of businesses with various laws and regulations. The report documents the systemic nature of consumer fraud committed against immigrants and offers solutions for improved laws, policies, and enforcement mechanisms to better protect immigrants.

NICE co-convened the New York State Working Group against immigration Services Fraud which has made headway in working with local and state agencies to stamp out fraud by phony and unscrupulous immigration service providers.

 

Food Chain Workers Alliance: The Hands that Feed Us

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Hands-That-Feed-Us-Report-11-231x300Project Update

The Hands That Feed Us  (June 2012)

The Food Chain Workers Alliance released a new report, The Hands That Feed Us: Challenges and Opportunities for Workers Along the Food Chain, the first of its kind that looks at wages and working conditions of workers across the entire food chain – a sector that employs 20 million people in the U.S., comprising one-sixth of the nation’s workforce.

The Hands That Feed Us is based on nearly 700 surveys and interviews with workers and employers in food production, processing, distribution, retail and service, which collectively sell over $1.8 trillion dollars in goods and services annually, accounting for over 13 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.  According to the report, there are some good jobs in the food system (13.5% of workers surveyed earn livable wages), but the vast majority are incredibly low-wage, with little or no access to paid sick days and health benefits, with dire consequences for consumers.

 

 

Foundation Announces 2012 Grants

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The recent grant awards of the Sociological Initiatives Foundation reveal a familiar list of discriminatory practices and public policy concerns identified by immigrant communities in the U.S.

The research and community organizing projects supported by the foundation this year will investigate a wide range of issues such as wage theft, discrimination, fraud, workplace safety, and the effects of recent anti-immigrant legislation.

Most of the projects link the research process with a grassroots advocacy campaign and typically involve a number of coalition partners in the effort.

To view the grants list, click here.

“So What’s This Research Stuff About?”

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Authors Rebecca Paradiso and Kate MacCrimmon have posted a useful primer on Comm-Org about research and community organizing titled: So What’s This Research Stuff About?

Community Voices Heard Receives 2011 Chall Award

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The Sociological Initiatives Foundation has awarded Community Voices Heard (CVH) of New York, the Leo P. Chall Award. The award recognizes outstanding work of organizations funded by the foundation. It honors organizations that link research with social action, thereby building capacity and changing public policy.

The 2011 award recognizes the statewide organization as a model of how member-led advocacy organizations can integrate research with community organizing. CVH is a multi-racial organization led by and for low-income people, predominantly women, working to build power in New York City and State. Continue reading

Foundation Announces 2011 Grants

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The Foundation is pleased to announce its 2011 grants.

Grants to advocacy organizations supporting immigrants and low-wage workers once again figured prominently in the foundation’s portfolio.

Most of the research projects supported coalition-based advocacy campaigns that addressed social problems of national significance and featured strong research partnerships with academic researchers and institutions.

To read the 2011 awards, click here.

 

Restaurant Opportunity Center-Detroit: Behind the Kitchen Door

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Behind-the-Kitchen-Door-Inequality-Opportunity-in-Metro-Detroit’s-Growing-Restaurant-Industry-Featured-Image-624x679Project Update

ROC-Detroit published a comprehensive, community-based research and policy report on the Southeast Michigan restaurant industry, “Behind the Kitchen Door,” based on 500 worker surveys, 32 employer interviews, and government data.

Research demonstrated that workers of color were largely concentrated in the lowest paying jobs in the industry and were the most likely to experience widespread violations of their rights.

The report called for policy and industry changes to increase access for low-wage workers of color to living wage jobs in the industry, attracting local and national media attention.

Florida Immigrant Center: Wage Theft in Florida

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Project Update

Wage-Theft_How-Millions-of-Dollars-are-Stolen-from-Floridas-Workforce_final-docx1-1-249x300FLIC’s “Wage Theft in Florida: A Real Problem with Real Solutions” was the first in a series describing and exposing the extent of wage violations in the state of Florida.

In 2010, the Florida Wage Theft Task Force, an alliance coordinated by the FLIC, successfully worked with Miami-Dade County commissioners to pass the first countywide Wage Theft Ordinance in Florida.

Nearly $40,000 was collected before the ordinance was fully implemented in September 2010

Chicago Mothers Recieve Chall Award

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The Sociological Initiatives Foundation has named Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI) of Chicago, Illinois the 2010 recipient of the Leo P. Chall Award.  The Chall award recognizes exemplary research projects funded by the foundation. It honors organizations that successfully link research with social action, thereby strengthening community organizations and influencing public policy. Continue reading

Voices of Women Organizing: Order in the Courts

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Project Update

Survivors of domestic violence link research with community organizing to help reform New York City Family Courts that have failed to protect women and children. The research revealed systematic bias and an indifference to domestic violence in families.

Re-victimizing Women and Endangering Children

“My husband was given physical custody of our son, even though I had been home with him since he was born. Neither the law guardian nor the judge asked me a single question. The law guardian never even met our son” (Alice)

New York City’s Voices of Women Organizing Project had often heard that visits to family courts traumatized victims of domestic violence. Project members decided to document the experiences of formerly abused women served by the family court system. Continue reading

What is Community Based Research?

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Community-Based Research has three basic principles:

  • CBR is a collaborative enterprise between researchers and community or constituency members.
  • CBR validates multiple sources of knowledge and promotes the use of multiple methods of discovery.
  • CBR has as its goal social action and social change for the purpose of achieving social justice.

(adapted from Strand et al., Community-Based Research and Higher Education. Jossey-Bass, 2003)

Community Voices Heard: The Revolving Door of Welfare to Work in New York City

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Project Update

revolvingdoor

Community Voices Heard studied the effectiveness of New York City’s Employment Services Placement System that targets people on welfare.

The report, The Revolving Door: Research Findings on NYC’s Employment Services and Placement System and Its Effectiveness in Moving People from Welfare to Work.  revealed that the program was a systemic failure.

Armed with the data, CVH led a five-month organizing campaign that pushed the New York City Council to increase funding by $18 million for programs for the unemployed and to create a career-ladder program.