Author Archives: Jill Reese

Online Community College for Organizations Helps Connect Leaders

Man holding chart“Education (should be) the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.” – Paulo Freire

“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.” ― Malcolm X

The Alliance for a Just Society kicked off our new political education program – the Online Community College for Community Organizations – with a training course for the facilitators who will be central to the successful implementation of the program.

Ten staff and leaders from five states (Maine, Montana, Oregon, Virginia and Washington) participated in the two-day session. They were introduced to, and then helped shape, the political education curricula. They became familiar with the technology the program will be run through, and discussed the specifics of how the program will be implemented in their states. It was a busy two days!

The addition of an online component to the Alliance’s existing training program is exciting. The Online Community College for Community Organization will give us the ability to connect leaders across the country. We will be able to engage them in critical thinking and dialogue in order to develop their analytical skills and illuminate our values and worldview. Our curricula were developed to provoke discussion by showing videos, suggesting readings, and referencing pop culture such as art and music.

Community colleges were developed to make continuing education accessible, affordable and flexible for people in local communities. They have given ‘non-traditional’ students access to higher education, breaking down elite barriers to lifelong learning. That’s the idea behind our Online Community College, to provide a space for engagement with political ideas, especially when that engagement is tied to action. Our audience will include leaders at all levels of experience, online activists and other members drawn to the course content.

The program will go live with grassroots leaders on May 29. Some 75 leaders are expected to experiment in the first round of the pilot. The first session is devoted to economic inequality. Later trainings will focus on citizenship and another on the role of government.

All of the curricula are designed to give participants a framework for analyzing multiple issues, to understand the forces and systems that drive the problems we seek to address, to grapple with the contradictions we face in organizing, and to practice developing political vision and creativity around solutions.

We are thrilled to get this program rolling and to have a strong team of organizers and leaders across the country dedicated to making it a success!

 

 

Maine People’s Alliance Hosts Annual Winter Retreat

On December 1st and 2nd, 120 members of our affiliate Maine People’s Alliance (MPA) came together from across the state for their Annual Winter Retreat. The event created space for staff and leaders to reflect on their work over the past six months and to develop plans for 2013. Continue reading »

Left in the Dark

Today, members of the Health Rights Organizing Project called on the federal government to prevent health insurance companies from denying health care to people who speak limited English. Under the new health reform law, patients have the right to appeal insurance companies’ health care denials. Insurers are supposed to inform patients of these rights, including patients not fluent in English. Continue reading »

New State Health Insurance Exchange Rules Must Be Strengthened

Earlier this summer, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a preliminary set of regulations that instruct states in the development of their new health insurance marketplaces, also called exchanges. These rules govern all aspects of how the exchanges are run and are a key mechanism for reigning in health insurance company profiteering.

There are a few key aspects of the rules that could be strengthened to ensure that the exchanges function for the benefit of people, not health insurance companies. Right now, HHS is accepting comments to help them revise the rules. This is our opportunity to set a high bar for states to meet or exceed – click here to sign a petition telling HHS that they must ensure that state exchanges: Continue reading »

Medicaid Makes a Difference Report

Congress is locked in a budget battle that’s grabbed round-the-clock media attention. Lost in the coverage are the real stakes in the debate, including the lives of the more than 50 million people covered by Medicaid, which is now in the budget-cutting cross-hairs. More than half of these 50 million are people of color. Racial disparities in health coverage have already reached alarming proportions. Cuts to Medicaid would make these disparities even worse, taking a toll on the real lives of real people.

The experiences and perspectives of some of these real people are captured in Medicaid Makes a Difference: Protecting Medicaid, Advancing Racial Equity, from the Alliance for a Just Society and 14 members of its Health Rights Organizing Project, a network of grassroots organizations across the country committed to the fight for health equity.
 Continue reading »

Medicaid Matters across Generations

On July 12th, over 250 people joined with Senators Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Al Franken of Minnesota and Claire McCaskill of Missouri to highlight the important role Medicaid plays for seniors, kids, families and America and to decry recently proposed cuts to the critical program. The Alliance for a Just Society worked with Caring Across Generations, PICO, Campaign for Community Change, Community Catalyst, and Health Care for America Now! to make this event a success. Continue reading »

The Exchange in Vermont: A Model for Other States

On May 6, the Vermont State Legislature passed a law creating a new health policy for its state.  The Governor signed it into law that same day. The Act, H. 202, includes a fairly comprehensive set of policies that should serve as a model for other states to follow.

H. 202 not only creates an exchange for Vermont, but it also creates a public option to private insurance, places controls on pharmaceutical and provider costs, and unifies the administration of public health care systems.

Continue reading »

Why Medicaid Matters

In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicaid and Medicare into law.

At the signing ceremony, he spoke of the tradition of leadership that compelled the country to create such programs. He also spoke of another tradition, one embedded in our national identity and values. He said this value “calls upon us never to be indifferent toward despair. It commands us never to turn away from helplessness. It directs us never to ignore or to spurn those who suffer untended in a land that is bursting with abundance.”

Unfortunately, the recent actions of many Members of Congress fly in the face of this tradition. Continue reading »

Health Rights Organizing Project Plans Next Steps Toward Equitable Health Care

Nearly a year after the passage of health care reform, the Alliance for a Just Society convened members of its Health Rights Organizing Project, a national collaboration of grassroots community organizations working on health care, to reflect on that victory and to develop next steps in the long march towards an equitable health care system.  This was the first face-to-face meeting of the coalition since health reform was made law in March 2010. Continue reading »

What Health Care Repeal Would Mean for People of Color

If you woke up tomorrow and discovered that you were a Member of Congress, what would be your first order of business? The economy is in the tank, so maybe you would endeavor to create a jobs program to curb unemployment. Poverty is on the rise, so you could consider options for strengthening the country’s safety net programs such as food stamps and cash assistance. States all find themselves in dire budget straits, so perhaps you would push to alleviate some of the crises by infusing more federal money into state coffers. And of course, because we need money to pay for these critical items, you could revisit the whole rich-not-paying-their-fair-share-of-taxes issue.

Or, like the actual new Members of Congress, you could promote a bill that would repeal health care reform, and prioritize the profits of corporations over the well-being of people. Continue reading »

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