One of my favorite books on not-for-profit management is called Forces for Good by Leslie Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant. The authors posit that there are six practices that define high-impact independent sector organizations. The first best practice on their list is this: Work with government and advocate for change.
Most readers may think having this item as the first principle is odd. However, most nonprofit leaders will tell you we are proud of the work we do to change lives. But to make long-lasting change – change that will eventually eliminate the need for our agency’s very own existence – can only happen if we change the rules of the game for those we serve. For HUF that means removing barriers to opportunity in education, the economy and society. It means insisting that our public policies reflect our nation’s belief in fairness and equal opportunity.
We will engage in this work because we believe we are better, as people, and as a country, when we welcome our neighbors, care for each other, and help those in need. We are better when we embrace our differences.
And, public policy and advocacy can provide context for the work we do with our clients and the services we provide them, as well as, inform public policy with real world experiences. It will make our work complete.
During HUF’s 35th year of empowering and guiding aspiring Americans on their journey to their American dream, our Board of Directors has determined that public policy and advocacy should be part of the agency’s work. The decision was based on our values, the reason why HUF was originally created and the experiences of those who built the organization.
The work is important – and demanding – and new to us. We have much to learn.
Our goals are straightforward:
- Work closely with policymakers to propose and support policies that reduce socioeconomic disparities in education, careers, health access, financial well-being and citizenship and advance HUF’s Mission through local, state & federal government partnerships;
- Raise awareness of policies that intentionally or inadvertently increase socioeconomic disparities in education, careers, health access, financial well-being and citizenship;
- Ensure the presence of HUF – and client – voices in state and federal policy debates and,
- Increase civic engagement of immigrants in the electoral and political process.
These are ambitious goals with an ever-changing and dynamic list of objectives.
In addition to advancing policies that are good for our clients and create awareness of policies that might hurt them, we also want to educate and empower our clients to add their own voice to the public square. And, lastly, we aim to encourage greater participation in the electoral process by those we serve.
Yes, ambitious but critically important.
We wanted to share this exciting new addition to HUF’s work because you are part of the HUF Family. You share our values. You believe in our mission. You are a volunteer or financially support our work.
We will start the work – slowly. Our values will inform what we do, in the same way that they guide our mission delivery – every day.
We will remain the nonpartisan agency you’ve come to respect and support. We will not engage in personal attacks. We will respect other’s points of views. And we will be guided by 501 C3 laws.
By not engaging in public policy and advocacy work, we are not fully fulfilling our vision of Empowering everyone to live their American dream which at times requires removing barriers or creating bridges.
In the weeks and months to come, we will begin to increase our communication on policy issues, you will receive information on advancing specific policies and you will see greater involvement by our clients in effecting changes that will benefit them, their families, our whole community and our nation.
Thank you for being part of the HUF Family. And we look forward to working with you and others to be an even greater “Force for Good.”
President & CEO
P.S. In the weeks ahead, we will increase our communication on issues such as Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and DACA for Dreamers (young children brought to the U.S.). If you are interested in volunteering your time for these projects – or other HUF programs – we would love to hear from you.