Grassroots Collaborative (501c3) Grassroots Collaborative builds power with working families through strategic community-labor organizing, grassroots leadership development, civic engagement, and training. The Collaborative unites eleven community and labor organizations that organize around issues of economic and racial justice. Collectively we represent over 125,000 Illinois residents. We have won significant improvements in working families’ lives in the areas of immigration, health care, human services, and living wages. The Collaborative takes on entrenched corporate and political power structures to affect policy change and return wealth to impoverished communities. We work to win progressive revenue solutions to fight the austerity measures that are devastating working families. We engage in deep leadership development to build the political analysis and strategic skills of grassroots leaders. We build permanent infrastructure with the power to win transformative change across the city and state.
A set of experienced community and labor organizers founded Grassroots Collaborative in 1999, to bring coalition unity to a Chicago landscape where organizations too often worked in isolation. In past years, we innovated the Big Box Living Wage Ordinance that led to the passage of a statewide minimum wage increase, forced downtown corporations to return tens of millions in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds, forced Mayor Emanuel not only to issue Executive Orders returning $110 million from the TIF slush fund, but also to institute permanent mechanisms to redistribute millions more in years to come. We coordinated a coalition of community organizations that registered 47,772 voters in low-income communities of color throughout Chicago. We also successfully forced Gov. Rauner to renegotiate state financial deals to avoid a massive $870 million taxpayer payout to Wall Street banks in 2016.
We released the People’s Agenda, A Path Towards Economic Prosperity for all Illinois Families in 2016. The People’s Agenda is a 28-page report providing a real alternative to Governor Rauner’s austerity agenda, which serves as our aspirational framework in fighting for progressive revenue to solve our state’s fiscal crisis and lift up the demands of Illinois working families. Most recently, the Collaborative was part of the larger effort that successfully fought to end the unprecedented 3-year state budget impasse, though work to repair the damage enacted will take years.