The coronavirus pandemic has taught us a lot of things about life, about compassion for one another, and about community. It’s also taught us some hard truths, including this one: Our economy just isn’t working for a lot of people.
Folks are facing poverty and the risk of becoming unhoused every day as they have to decide between their family’s health and their job security. We’re seeing food insecurity rise for Americans across the country, and young people are making the decision to delay starting a family in part because of the pandemic and how it’s impacted our financial security.
The bottom line: how we’re doing things just isn’t working.
The good news? Nonprofit and social justice organizations have seen the injustice inherent in the U.S. and throughout the world for some time — and several are working to make things better.
In fact, Pope Francis himself has spoken loud and clear about the need for us to make a change in the way we see worldwide systems. Under his leadership, the Vatican formed the Economy of Francesco movement, culminating in an online event in 2020 proclaiming the need for economic and restorative justice for people throughout the world. A coalition of young people summoned virtually to Assisi for the event committed to working for common good and meaningful labor for all.
If you’re looking for organizations to ally with to build a better world, these movements and organizations are leading the way forward, advocating for an economic future that prioritizes climate, racial justice, and community growth.
New Economy Coalition
A network of more than 70 nonprofits, businesses, and organizations focused on “collective agency and self-determination,” the New Economy Coalition works from a vision of an economic system that looks at our history and responds with empathy and collectivism to move forward. The Coalition seeks to heal the inequality and harm done by our colonial past. The Coalition’s goal is a “solidarity economy ecosystem,” where community needs are determined and organized by the community itself, with particular leadership and voice given to those who are most marginalized by our current system.
Member organizations from the New Economy Coalition gathered to create the Pathway to a People’s Economy, a policy-centered toolkit that shares impactful policy changes and showcases examples of how to make community-centered change that starts at a grassroots level. The toolkit explores how issues of racial justice, equity, sustainability, and mutual aid can forge a just and sustainable path forward.
For the more academically minded, Rethinking Economics is a great resource to explore and understand the fuller picture of what’s involved in the study and practice of economics. The international students, professors, and leaders in the organization explore all economic perspectives with an open and respectful stance. The group hopes that educating young people and the public about all economic theories and perspectives will allow today’s and tomorrow’s leaders to engage in thoughtful, critical decision making that prioritizes the marginalized and uplifts people rather than profits.
Centered in Rome, Caritas International consists of 160 member organizations who provide on-the-ground support to communities and nations as it’s needed. Perhaps best known for their emergency response work, Caritas also advocates for change through development, support and dignity for migrants, and the promotion of just systems and economies. The organization embraces a Catholic perspective in its work, as articulated in their sustainable development goals that focus on the dignity of the human person and the need to care for the Earth in order to promote a culture of life in the economy and beyond.
Though not strictly focused on economic reform, the Sunrise Movement stands firmly upon the principle that climate justice and the future of our planet will determine our ability to move forward as a society. Part of what they call the “climate revolution,” the Sunrise Movement encompasses young people working to combat the disastrous effects of climate change while also empowering the creation of clean jobs.
They movement is a firm supporter of the Green New Deal, a congressional resolution focused on renewable energy and creating living-wage jobs that support and empower a clean future. They understand that working to solve the climate crisis will eliminate one of the root causes of poverty and economic injustice — and they’re committed to cutting off climate change at the source.
Catholic Campaign for Human Development
Embracing Pope Francis’s call for dignity in work and life and founded through the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, CCHD empowers individuals to help themselves. The organization emphasizes an approach of humility, knowing that those most affected by systems of injustice are the very ones with solutions who need a voice in their own futures. CCHD also seeks to educate people on the principles of Catholic Social Teaching and help the privileged to understand the root causes of poverty. It’s considered the official anti-poverty mission branch of the U.S. bishops.
Fight for Fifteen
Formed by fast food workers in 2012, Fight for $15 has a simple goal: to secure a $15 hourly minimum wage for all Americans and for those in other countries. Though it’s a small change in the grand scheme of the economy, it’s one that can be implemented immediately — and one that would have a profound impact on families and individuals who work hard to make a living.
You might remember Andrew Yang as the presidential candidate with the longest issue list ever on his campaign website. Or you might know him now as a candidate for mayor of New York. Though his political aspirations didn’t materialize, he has taken one of his most well-known campaign promises and turned it into a nonprofit. Humanity Forward is working to expand the program that delivered stimulus checks from the Federal government into a bill to establish a monthly cash relief payment. It’s part of the movement for Universal Basic Income: the concept that rethinks the role of labor and purpose and empowers Americans to more effectively use their voices and choose how to spend their lives, rather than making decisions from a space of economic insecurity.
The American economic system is complex and is not something that can simply be fixed with one policy or the work of one organization. But all of us — working together with humility and open-mindedness — have the ability to create powerful change that puts people and human dignity first.