OAKLAND, Calif., Jan. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Thousands of Californians who live in or close to poverty in the state have worked hard for decades to score victories that level the playing field. They've passed laws that increase affordable housing and raise the minimum wage, so they can provide for their families. They've also spent their personal time, which is in chronically short supply, pushing for better teachers and textbooks so the kids in their neighborhoods can have better opportunities. On these and other issues the odds have been against them, but these Californians leveraged their significant numbers with coordinated grassroots organizing to achieve victory.
Until now, they carried out this work as a chapter of the national organization ACORN. Until now, governance and financial management resided at the national level. In recent months it has become increasingly clear to the leadership, staff and members in California that the serious challenges ACORN is facing are jeopardizing the important work we are doing here in California.
It has been a difficult and emotional time. We, the California leadership, staff and members who have been working with ACORN, believe that ACORN, both locally and nationally, has been a tremendous force advancing the interests of low-income and working families in this country. At the same time, very real internal mistakes have been made and vicious politically motivated attacks have led to right-wing activists digging through our trash and editing undercover videos to tell a lie so malicious that, if it were true, would upset any citizen. We applaud ACORN's new leadership and the significant organizational and governance improvements they have made. We were as relieved as anyone by results of the objective analysis by the Congressional Research Service and the independent evaluator Scott Harshbarger, which found that many of the vicious, politically motivated attacks were based on distortions or lies.
Nevertheless, those of us who have been working with ACORN in California believe that we can't wait any longer to be in full control over our destiny. The leadership and staff that were working with ACORN in California made the decision to break off from ACORN and launch a new organization here in California called Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE). The organization will work to advance the mission of organizing and empowering low-income communities, and launch a statewide, multi-year campaign to win key policy changes that will break the cycle of continuous fiscal crisis in the state of California and cuts that hurt ordinary people and their communities. Unlike ACORN, ACCE was formed intentionally as a California nonprofit public benefit corporation, which means that by design, it will be subject to strict regulatory oversight by the California Department of Justice. Also unlike ACORN, ACCE will qualify as a "social welfare organization" for federal tax purposes, which means that by design, it will be subject to additional operational and reporting requirements imposed by federal tax law.
As of January 12, ACCE is up and running as an independent state-wide organization with no legal, financial or structural ties to ACORN. ACCE's board and management have full control and accountability over our work and organization in California. Outside experts in organizational management, legal compliance, financial management, and human resources are working with us to ensure that our new organization has strong and healthy governance, staff and financial management systems, and that it complies with all applicable filing and reporting requirements.
Over the next several months, even as we launch a campaign for a more just California, ACCE's program activities will be in a development period during which ACCE's board will receive the assistance of an external advisory council comprised of proven nonprofit and civic leaders. ACCE's leadership is asking the advisory council to help identify the best management protocols and staff training practices. During the transition period, their role will be as advisors in helping us determine the type of oversight needed to succeed in the long term.
It is clear to us that the need for an organization focused on empowering low-income Californians is more important now than ever. We very much hope that ACORN makes it through this challenging time, but unfortunately, California's low- and moderate-income working families can't wait for that to happen. Every day more and more Californians are losing their jobs, falling further behind on their rent or mortgage payments and sending their kids to failing schools. The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment will be dedicated to raising the voices of everyday Californians, neighborhood by neighborhood, so that our children have stronger communities and expanded opportunities.
Executive Director of Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment
Former Executive Director of California ACORN
Member of Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment Interim Board of Directors
Former Member of California ACORN
SOURCE Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment