The Center for Community Change (CCC) was founded in 1968 by Jack T. Conway, a veteran of the Office of Economic Opportunity, which had led President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty beginning in 1964. Conway's aim in establishing CCC was “to honor the life and values” of the recently assassinated U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy.
From the start, CCC's mission has been “to build the power and capacity of low-income people, especially low-income people of color, to change their communities and public policies for the better.” Toward this end, the Center seeks to create “vibrant community-based organizations, led by the people most affected by social and economic injustice,” to help “neglected populations” put “an end to the failed 'on your own' mentality of the [political] right” and establish “a new politics based on community values.”
For solutions to America's poverty-related problems, CCC has traditionally placed its faith in government rather than in the private sector. In the 1970s, for example, the Center pushed for “large government programs” to funnel “millions of dollars” into “housing, economic development, jobs and social services” for low-income communities nationwide. CCC also helped establish the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) of 1977, which required lending institutions to extend—for purposes of racial “equity”—financial credit to undercapitalized, high-risk borrowers in low-income, mostly-minority areas. In 1978, CCC helped community-based groups in Brooklyn and St. Louis file the first formal complaints against banks that allegedly had “failed to meet their CRA obligations.”
In the 1980s, CCC organized public-housing activists across the U.S. to demonstrate against the proposed demolition of thousands of such residential units. The Center also launched a Housing Trust Fund movement to pressure city, county, and state governments to establish “permanent sources of dedicated funding for affordable housing.”
In the 1990s, CCC staffed and housed the Indian and Native American Employment Training Coalition, which secured an extra $150 million per year in taxpayer subsidies for Indian job-training and employment programs. Moreover, the Center established a Transportation Equity Network, which successfully persuaded state and local political leaders to earmark more than $700 million in taxpayer funds for transit programs to help low-income residents commute to and from their jobs.
In the early 2000s, CCC created and staffed a National Campaign for Jobs and Income Support, which used its influence not only to (successfully) promote the allocation of an extra $800 million per year in child tax credits for the poor, but also to enable almost 400,000 previously ineligible legal immigrants to qualify for Food Stamp benefits.
CCC's major projects today include the following:
The Community Voting Project urges “poor people” to “use the power of the ballot box” in order to “change the way this country works” and thereby create “a whole different national agenda.”
The Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) views America as a deeply racist country that needs to be radically transformed by an alliance of “low-income and people-of-color communities.”
The Crossing Borders initiative was created jointly by CCC, FIRM, and CASA de Maryland to help “African Americans and immigrants” identify “issues of common interest” on whose behalf they could jointly agitate.
More broadly, the Campaign for Community Values unites more than 300 grassroots organizations in an effort to identify shared political agendas which they can pursue together.
The Generation Change program trains and mentors new community organizers in an effort to build “the next generation of [progressive] leaders.” CCC claims that since its inception, it has “nurtured thousands of local groups and leaders” across the United States.
Building an Economy that Works for All is a CCC campaign that calls for “federal investments” to “raise wages” and create “subsidized jobs programs.” It aims also to expand union membership among American employees and to help “undocumented workers in the United States” gain “legal recognition.”
On December 1, 2007, CCC sponsored a major forum exclusively for thousands of "community organizers" from across the U.S. When CCC executive director Deepak Bhargava introduced keynote speaker Barack Obama to those in attendance, Bhargava depicted America as “a society that is still deeply structured by racism and sexism.” He then elicited from Obama a pledge that the latter would, if elected President in 2008, empower CCC and other community-organizing groups to “help [the new Administration] shape the agenda.”
The Center for Community Change Action (CCCA), which is CCC's "social welfare" (c)(4) arm, has also received large donations from a number of charitable foundations and activist groups. For example, in 2015, CCCA received $1,750,000 from Every Citizen Count; $1,475,000 from the Open Society Policy Center (a George Soros group); $610,000 from the Sixteen Thirty Fund; $150,000 from CCC; $150,000 from the Services Employees International Union; $75,000 from Atlantic Philanthropies; and $50,000 from the Tides Foundation.
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