OOC has run successful non-partisan civic engagement programs across Ohio since 2008, moving hundreds of thousands of voters to the polls and connecting them with existing issue organizing and leadership development programs. We engage voters in congregations, on college campuses, in urban neighborhoods and rural communities, and through targeted constituency groups. Our viable hybrid volunteer/staff program has built credibility in hard-to-reach communities and can translate civic engagement work into ongoing involvement.
Large-Scale Voter Registration
Starting in the summer of 2015, the OOC launched an 18 month voter registration program aimed at fundamentally shaping Ohio’s electorate. On Tuesday, October 11th, 2016, the Ohio Organizing Collaborative finished its voter program registering 184,339 voters within all of Ohio’s 88 counties, surpassing its goal of 179,000 voters. This level of registration represents a fundamental shift in the Ohio electorate, giving a voice to communities that have been historically disadvantaged and disenfranchised.
Beginning in the late summer of 2016, our partner organization, Stand Up for Ohio, began its voter education program, talking to potential voters about the issues that affect our communities. Following the voter registration deadline, Stand Up for Ohio officially kicked off its voter turnout efforts, reaching half a million Ohioans by phone, mail, text, and in person.
Criminal Justice Reform
Three decades of mass incarceration have devastated our low-income and minority communities, stripping economic opportunity from generations of Ohioans. We believe that stable families, economic security, and access to health care and education build strong communities – and we are working to transform our justice system from one based in criminalization and incarceration to one based in sound and humane policies that support healing and growth for individuals, families, and communities.
Fair Hiring Victories
OOC and our partners at Ohio Justice & Policy Center (OJPC) led the campaign for Ohio’s first local government fair hiring policy in Cincinnati in 2010. Since then, OOC, OJPC, and several other grassroots groups have succeeded in passing similar reforms in 12 other cities and counties across the state. In December 2015, Governor Kasich signed the Ohio Fair Hiring Act–legislation that OOC was instrumental in drafting and driving–into law. The new legislation prohibits public employers from including on job applications questions concerning an applicant's criminal background.
The health of Ohioans is not simply the result of genetics or behavior: the very neighborhoods in which we live determine the length and quality of our lives. Access to healthy food, education, stable employment, and long-term care all play a substantial role in determining the health of Ohio’s families. OOC is working to combat the unequal distribution of resources adversely impacting low-income and minority residents by advocating for high quality universal preschool, supporting the dignity and security of Ohio’s seniors, and defending our public safety net programs.
Expanded Access to Quality Preschool
In 2016, OOC and its affiliates led successful campaigns to expand access to free, quality preschool in Dayton and Cincinnati. The OOC is committed to expanding these program to ensure that every Ohio child and family can access affordable, quality pre-k education.
Cincinnati residents overwhelmingly voted to expand access to high-quality preschool for three and four year olds in the city. The AMOS Project, OOC’s Cincinnati affiliate, co-led the Issue 44 campaign, organizing community members in support of new educational opportunities for Cincinnati children.
The AMOS Project played a key role in shaping Issue 44 through the creation of the People’s Platform for Universal Preschool. The AMOS Project held dozens of meetings with hundreds of community members to craft this platform, which calls for preschool expansion that respects every child, promotes racial equity, creates good jobs for providers, and keeps family voices at the center.
In Dayton, OOC's partner organization, Stand Up for Ohio, played a crucial role in passing Issue 9, a public services levy that will pay for police, firefighters, and paramedics; fund much-needed street repairs and park maintenance; and extend access to high-quality preschool to all 4 year olds in the city.
As Ohio’s economy relies increasingly on low-wage and no-benefit jobs, inequality is rising alongside poverty all across the state. OOC’s economic justice work is focused on a two-year plan to raise the minimum wage, redefine the narrative around ‘economic fairness’, and continue to mobilize low-wage workers and working-class families in cities and statewide.
The training and development of leaders sits at the heart of any successful organizing campaign. At any of OOC’s small- and large-scale leadership trainings, participants are provided with a solid background in the basics of community organizing and leadership development. Chief among these is OOC’s week-long leadership development training, which has hosted more than 800 community leaders to strengthen organizing skills, build deeper collaboration, and cross-train on issues affecting our communities.