Reflections on the 2016 State of the Union and Challenge for the Alliance Network

As I listened to President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address, I couldn’t help but reflect on the role our sector has played in bringing our nation’s promise to life. As community stewards, the work we do every day is the foundation of the economic vitality of America’s hometowns and neighborhoods. Even as I think about our network’s history—rooted in social justice and community engagement—I am energized to be part of a movement that has been working for so many years on the very issues the President touted in his speech—from tackling poverty and ensuring equal pay for equal work, to increasing and strengthening early education programs, to advocating for those whose voices sometimes get lost in the noise.

The State of the Union address reminded us that we are at a critical moment in history and there is a great opportunity, especially during this election year, for the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities network to truly advance the issues we care most about. While much progress has been made in our country, there is still much more work to be done. The good news is that our sector is uniquely positioned to continue to move the needle on advocacy and influence, and we must leverage this moment to elevate our knowledge and expertise to an even higher level at this important time in our nation’s history. 

As we move into 2016, helping our network achieve influence by amplifying our collective voice is a major goal. We heard it in the president’s speech and I’m going reinforce it here—it’s going to take many important minds coming together to successfully move tough issues and all voices will need to be at the table. In his own words, the president encouraged all Americans to be part of the political process, “… My fellow Americans, whatever you may believe, whether you prefer one party or no party, whether you supported my agenda or fought as hard as you could against it—our collective futures depends on your willingness to uphold your duties as a citizen. To vote. To speak out. To stand up for others, especially the weak, especially the vulnerable, knowing that each of us is only here because somebody, somewhere, stood up for us.”

So in 2016, we pledge to continue to work with all of our members, as well as the administration and policymakers, to engage the unique perspectives of our network with the ultimate goal of influencing policy and creating lasting change for all our communities.

Voter Engagement Campaign: AllianceVotes 2016

As part of these efforts, the Alliance will be galvanizing, mobilizing, and leaning in. The Alliance is launching a get out the vote and voter engagement campaign, AllianceVotes 2016. We’ll support your efforts to register new voters and re-commit current voters as well as engage election candidates in critical dialogues. We know that that nonprofits have connections with communities that are typically underrepresented in the political process, and by supporting active civic engagement and promoting democracy, we can empower these individuals.

New Hampshire Forum: Politics, Poverty, and the Presidency

We’re also excited to have some of our members with us next week in New Hampshire, a state that many will be watching early in this election season, for the national forum Politics, Poverty and the Presidency, where we are collaborating with national partners to lead a dialogue with presidential candidates, elected officials, and experts in the field around poverty issues and trends taking center stage during the 2016 election cycle.

The forum is Jan. 21-22 in Nashua, New Hampshire. Register online to attend.

Child Welfare Finance Reform Campaign: Keeping Kids in Families
Also in 2016, through our Keeping Kids in Families campaign, we continue to put pressure on Congress to align a system of supports that work to prevent children from going into the child welfare system and begins moving a permanency plan forward on the first day a child enters the system.

Priority Issue: Nonprofit Sector Health

We’ll continue to be a voice for nonprofit sector health issues, including working to hold the U.S. Department of Labor accountable to our requests on the proposed Fair Labor Standards overtime rule change, so that our communities continue to benefit from the presence of vital, high quality human services available to those in need.

These are just a few of the many opportunities that we are leveraging this year to elevate the voice of our network as part of campaign discussions and policy advocacy across the country.

Visit the Alliance’s Policy Action Center today to engage on issues and to be a part of the collective action already taking place.

Now is a critical time for our network to gear up to transcend our rich history, stand on the shoulders of the social sector leaders that came before us, and lead the movement to advance opportunity and equity for all Americans. This work will not be easy, but it is necessary. We must not be daunted or complacent.

With a new year and a renewed focus, let’s accept the president’s challenge and make a commitment as a network to continue to work together, with our communities and with our policymakers, to harness the power and influence of a collective voice and concerted action. Will you commit to standing with us on behalf of children and families?

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