Theory of Social Change
Community Voices Heard believes that we must build the power of low-income people, particularly women, through building an organization that low-income people control and lead.
We also believe we have a successful model that has and can continue to mobilize large numbers of low-income people to: DEVELOP into community leaders, PARTICIPATE in the policy making process, WIN concrete policies that improve our members' lives, and CREATE a more fair and equitable community for everyone. We believe we win on our issues and contribute to a broader movement for social change by acting on the following theories:
BUILDING A PEOPLES ORGANIZATION
Social change comes through building and maintaining strong, powerful, independent people’s organizations, not relying on mobilizing numbers of people at isolated times. At CVH, low-income people, particularly women, develop their skills, engage in political education and strategic development, and directly negotiate and deal with power. This process is key for sustaining and keeping people involved over the long-term. At the same time, it ensures that we retain a place at the negotiating table.
SHIFTING THE PARAMETERS OF THE DEBATE
We actively and strategically embrace and represent political positions that might not be popular and in the mainstream. We aim for policies that will truly improve our members’ lives and change the balance of social, economic and political power, while negotiating for concrete wins along the way. We seek a position that will move the debate away from the center, and to the left of the political spectrum, where economic justice issues are better represented.
USING A COMBINATION OF STRATEGIES
We actively embrace and implement a combined strategy of organization building, leadership development and mass mobilization. We derive our power through the effective combination of these strategies.
SEEKING AND BUILDING CONSTITUENT-LED COALITIONS
Coalition and ally work is critical to certain campaigns and goals, but we seek to participate in coalitions that are led and directed by base-building organizations that are directly accountable to their constituencies. For us, this creates opportunities to nurture and develop community leaders, which builds our organizational strength and power.
ENGAGING A BROADER MOVEMENT
While we believe that building our own organizational power is critical to social change, we support activities within and outside of our organization that help to build the greater social change and economic justice movements. This includes our work on global justice issues, training young people of color to be organizers, assisting in the start-up of other nascent organizations, and participating in key solidarity events and actions.