ABOVE PHOTO: Members of the Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity team. (Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity)
Bridge Together — the largest research, video tracking, and rapid response organization in Democratic and progressive politics — recently announced a new round of voting rights initiative grantees, which includes Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity, Arizona AANHPI for Equity Coalition, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice Atlanta.
The organization is committed to investing in existing, local, on-the-ground partners aligned with their mission — helping to ensure off-year investments in civic engagement and voter education and allowing organizations to build and maintain their staff. They selected these organizations because of their exemplary commitment to building progressive power year-round.
“I want to send my sincere congratulations to Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity, Arizona AANHPI for Equity Coalition, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice Atlanta – extraordinary organizations that are making a difference in their communities,” said former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, chairman of Bridge Together. “Organizing and building grassroots progressive power is necessary year-round; it is indeed critical for both the long-term success and sustainability of progressive policies and for overcoming current efforts to suppress the vote. That’s why the work being done by our grantees to support our democracy is so important. Congratulations to all of the grantees and thank you for all of the work you do.”
The Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity (PLSE) is an organization committed to providing criminal record clearing services and voter education resources. This innovative organization recognizes the significant structural obstacle that having a criminal record presents to employment, housing and education opportunities for thousands of Pennsylvanians, disproportionately impacting communities of color and the poor.
Funding from Bridge Together will be used to support PLSE’s Pardon Hub network and launch new Pardon Hubs in 13 counties.
This will be part of an expanding network of community centers and nonprofits where folks can get information about applying for a pardon as well as training of volunteers to become Pardon Coaches. Bridge Together funds will go towards monthly criminal record clearing clinics. These clinics would rotate through PLSE’s partner non-profits within the Pardon Hub and would provide intake services for any individual who attends and requests help eliminating their criminal records. They will also serve as education and information hubs for voting.
Additionally, Bridge Together is providing grants to Arizona AANHPI for Equity Coalition – an organization focusing on increasing young voter turnout specifically by holding a civic engagement youth fellowship summer program where they train 25 high school and college students on community organizing, the story of self, voting rights history, racial bias, voter registration, and art activism.
In Georgia, Bridge Together is funding Asian Americans Advancing Justice Atlanta, whose mission is to increase AAPI and Latinx engagement and turnout across the state.
“The mission of BridgeTogether is to fund, support, and sustain grassroots organizing efforts year-round that goes everywhere and engages everyone because democracy is stronger when we all participate and we all have a stake,” said Chrystian Woods, executive director of BridgeTogether. “We are excited to work with a broad, diverse group of organizations that are executing engaging and comprehensive programs at the grassroots level.”
“Thanks to Bridge Together, we’ll be able to advance our organization’s mission of providing free legal advice and representation to low-income Pennsylvanians whose criminal records are holding them back from achieving their social and career potentials,” said Renee Chenault, executive director of Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity.
“This funding will allow us to expand our voter educa-tion and civic engagement efforts, and we’re excited to continue that important work,” she said.