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Still Not Free When They Come Home, a Community Report: How Wisconsin's Criminal Legal System Harms Democracy and the Black Community on Milwaukee's North Side

October 16, 2023

During the first half of 2023, Black Leaders Organizing Communities (BLOC), a Black-led community-based organization in Milwaukee, and the Center for Popular Democracy conducted a participatory action research project where six of BLOC's member leaders from the North Side of Milwaukee interviewed their family members, neighbors, and other residents of the community about how policing and incarceration impacted their community's ability to participate in our democracy.Community members living on the northside of Milwaukee, where a large share of Wisconsin's Black residents live, have long experienced racism and state violence, criminalization and incarceration, poverty, and disenfranchisement (having their rights, especially voting rights, taken away). The community also has a long history of civic and political involvement—from civil rights era demonstrations against racial segregation to more recent protests against police violence. Today, its residents are among the most incarcerated in the US—and people often describe one of its zip codes, 53206, as among the most incarcerated zip codes in the country. This horrible status is the result of deeply entrenched historic and ongoing racial segregation, economic exclusion, and targeted policing that have torn at the fabric of North Side families and community fordecades.Drawing from interviews with community members, the BLOC researchers' long-term observations from their community, and their own and their family members' personal experiences, this report discusses the impact of Wisconsin's criminal legal system on the Black community on the northside of Milwaukee.

Center for Popular Democracy Impact Report 2022

June 1, 2023

Ten years ago, CPD/A was founded with the bold dream of creating a world where we are all free to thrive. We are proud to say that, since then, we have consistently taken direct action—whether at the polls or the steps of the Supreme Court—to protect the people our democracy is failing. In 2022 alone, we won over 60 policy victories for millions of people, including the landmark Inflation Reduction Act. In every win and every loss, we moved the needle towards a more just, equitable world.We're honored to present our 2022 Impact Report in the form of a zine which shares the story of all CPD/A has accomplished in deep partnership with our affiliates, community members, partners, and funders. We're excited to also share special cultural offerings from our brilliant team, including a recipe, a poem, a political education resource list, and an essay on what it means to fight for our collective liberation in this moment.

2022 Impact Report

June 1, 2023

We're honored to present our 2022 Impact Report in the form of a zine which shares the story of all CPD/A has accomplished in deep partnership with our affiliates, community members, partners, and funders. We're excited to also share special cultural offerings from our brilliant team, including a recipe, a poem, a political education resource list, and an essay on what it means to fight for our collective liberation in this moment. As we enter a new decade of organizing, with Analilia and DaMareo leading us, we look forward to continuing to build the people-power needed to transform the policies, institutions, and structures that define our existence. By centering those most marginalized under white supremacy and racial capitalism—Black, Latine, low-income, and immigrant communities—and working collaboratively with our affiliates, we will fight for climate resilience, immigration reform, safe and affordable housing, an anti-racist education and justice system, quality and universal healthcare, and more.

Strengthening Medicaid: Challenges States Must Address As The Public Health Emergency Ends

May 31, 2023

Medicaid is an essential program that provides health services for millions of people who otherwise could not afford them. Medicaid improves health outcomes for recipients, improves their financial stability, provides access to potentially life-saving healthcare, creates thousands of jobs that bolster our local economies, and helps reduce economic and racial disparities in health insurance and healthcare access. While Medicaid improves the health and lives of recipients and benefits the healthcare system and the US economy, Medicaid systems for enrollment, renewal/redetermination, and using Medicaid coverage need improvement. All people who meet Medicaid eligibility criteria are guaranteed coverage. However, many who are eligible struggle to enroll in and maintain Medicaid coverage. Barriers to obtaining and renewing coverage and accessing services often make it challenging and time-consuming to navigate the system. Many who successfully enrolled face further dissatisfaction and stress as Medicaid leaves their needs unaddressed. Research shows that Medicaid recipients experience many barriers to accessing quality healthcare.

Progress for Who?: Progress Residential Preys on Renters as it Buys Up Homes in Tennessee and the U.S. South

April 14, 2023

Recent headlines have called attention to the expansion of corporate investors in the single-family rental home industry. Corporate landlords' growing acquisition of homes is particularly high in cities throughout the U.S. South, where a dire lack of renter protections has abetted rapid gentrification. In this context, the National Rental Home Council (NRHC), a real estate industry group headed by the largest single-family rental (SFR) landlords to advance their interests, is holding its national conference in Nashville, Tennessee this April 16-19, 2023. Renters have repeatedly demanded that the NRHC, and the corporate landlords that lead it, adopt tenant protections in the homes they own and manage, due to their exploitative business practices.Tennessee has suffered first-hand the harms that can come from the proliferation of corporate-owned rental homes, and Nashville is a key target for the largest predatory landlords. Renters in corporate-owned properties have reported unfair rent hikes, shoddy maintenance, excessive fees, and more. Renters are organizing against evictions, as well as for limits on arbitrary rent increases, and the right to bargain collectively about living conditions.

The Power to Win: Black, Latiné, and Working Class Community Organizing on the Climate Crisis

March 20, 2023

After decades of warnings from scientists and activists, the climate crisis is no longer a prognosis of what is to come, it is the definitive reality of our world. In the last 50 years, global carbon emissions have risen by 90%, and this past April marked the highest recorded levels of CO2 in human history.Our use of fossil fuels is costing us our lives. Each year, we are experiencing the rapidly increasing effects of this industry-caused crisis: intense droughts and heatwaves, stronger and more frequent hurricanes, increased flooding from risingseas, blazing wildfires, and more.While corporations and the wealthy are responsible for the continued production of the carbon emissions that drive climate change, Black, Indigenous, Latiné, low-income communities, and the global south —the people who have the lowest carbon footprint—are the most impacted by the devastating impacts of the climate crisis. Black people, in particular, are 75% more likely than white people to reside near incinerators, coal power stations, or in low-lying areas at risk of flooding.Because of historic environmental racism, disinvestment, poor infrastructure, and lack of resources, these communities are far less equipped to prepare for and recover from climate disasters, placing them at far greater risk of the multitude of traumas that climate disasters unleash. Accordingly, these communities are also on the frontlines of the very work needed to transform the crisis. As the largest network of grassroots organizations in the US, the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) and our 48 affiliates play a vital role in building the power necessary to tackle the climate crisis. CPD's affiliate organizations are based in the very Black, Latiné, and low-income communities that are most disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis. For nearly a decade, the community organizations of the CPD network have fought for and won significant change at the federal, state, and local levels—all while being significantly under-resourced for this work.

Investing in the Housing Crisis: An exploration of the North Carolina public pension system's relationship with Landmark Partners and the Single Family Rental industry

December 6, 2022

North Carolina has a corporate landlord problem. Large investors now own over 40,000 single family homes in North Carolina1, squeezing out would-be homebuyers and burdening renters with rising rental costs and prolonged maintenance issues. Some of these corporate rental companies are owned or backed by private equity firms that receive funding from public pension systems, including the North Carolina Retirement System (NCRS). The North Carolina Retirement System has committed more than $3.2 billion to one such private equity firm, Landmark Partners, since 2014. $2.6 billion of these commitments to Landmark have been made since Dale Folwell became State Treasurer and took over responsibility for the pension fund in 2017. No other pension fund has invested more than $500 million in Landmark during the 2017 - 2022 time period.This matters because Landmark is a major investor in Progress Residential,4 the largest single family rental company in the U.S. with over 7,700 homes in North Carolina.

Center for Popular Democracy Impact Report 2021

August 15, 2022

As we look toward the future of CPD, we are excited for the next executive and leadership team to continue exploring how our network can develop even further as a trusted and responsive partner in the movement. We are confident that the CPD Network will remain at the forefront of the fight to win badly-needed changes on just, people-centered COVID relief, climate change, immigration reform, housing and evictions, defunding the carceral state, addressing the growth of white supremacist and anti-democratic forces, and more.

Youth Mandate – The School Board Elections Toolkit: How young people can build power through school board elections for 501(c)(3) Organizations

July 12, 2022

In the era of COVID-19 and following the 2020 wave of nationwide uprisings contesting white supremacy, United States politics have grown increasingly polarized at every level of government. Communities across the country are waging battles along partisan and ideological lines, from debates over public health measures, such as mask-wearing and vaccines, to whether to teach young people the truth about this country's legacy of enduring systemic racism or "critical race theory" and the need for police free schools. While there are limited opportunities for engagement on these issues at the national level, many community members have sought opportunities to engage in local politics. As a result, school boards – the most local and easily accessible form of government – have become sites of intense political and cultural debate.Indeed, the country has seen a recent flurry of engagement in school board races and increased scrutiny over election outcomes. A recent analysis by Ballotpedia identified at least 84 attempted school board recalls against 215 board members in 2021 – a significant increase from any other year since at least 2009. However, while school board activity has intensified since 2020, local activism in school board politics is not a new phenomenon. Since the 1950s, school board politics have proven meaningful to Black and Brown communities as they organize to dismantle white supremacy and fight for education justice in their communities.At this moment, with heightened levels of community engagement in school boards across the country, there are viable opportunities for young people, parents, and community members to participate in this critical site of local power and uplift their issues through the electoral process. The communities already building their participation in school board advocacy are demanding that school board members address how Black and Brown young people face harm in schools (including the racist and punitive school discipline policies and the presence of police and security in schools). They are calling on school board members to align with their bold vision for a liberatory education system based on inclusion, equity, and racial justice principles.

Social Housing For All: A Vision For Thriving Communities, Renter Power, and Racial Justice

March 22, 2022

To create a more equitable housing system, we must massively expand social housing: a public option for housing that is permanently affordable, protected from the private market, and publicly owned or under democratic community control.All levels of government must create public, non-profit means of housing finance, construction, management, and ownership to counter real estate speculation—rather than using our public funds to enrich for-profit speculators, private developers, and corporate landlords. Government policy should develop and maintain social housing by employing organized labor and creating union jobs.  And we must ensure that systems of democratic accountability center low-income communities of color, renters, and the most marginalized residents in decision-making and control over resources. The implementation of social housing must redress inequity and exclusion; only through accountability to marginalized communities will social housing programs truly serve their interests.

Justice Delayed is Justice Denied: Milwaukee Public Schools, Persistent Disparities, and the School-to-Prison-and-Deportation Pipeline

March 22, 2022

Since as far back as the 1990's, Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) has pushed Black students, students with disabilities, and other impacted students into the school-to-prison-and-deportation pipeline through its rampant and uneven use of exclusionary discipline. The new report details a pattern of disparate discipline rates meted out to students in different categories of race and disability status that continues unabated even today, 8 years after MPS initially came under scrutiny and investigation by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights.MPS continues to punish Black students more often and more severely than their white peers, even as evidence shows similar behavior across groups. This disproportionality, and the high suspension and expulsion rates in MPS, are core pillars of the school-to-prison-and-deportation pipeline.

We Matter: A Guide for Community Organizations on Redistricting Engagement

August 5, 2021

The purpose of this guide is to assist the staff and leaders of community organizations—especially those that organize Black, immigrant, and communities of color—in understanding the importance of drawing fair election maps, called the "redistricting" process. This information should be used by organizations to empower community members, who may not understand how to participate in the mapping process, with the information they need to plug into and shape this critical process for their communities.