Local Progress and its sister project Local Progress Action engage in strategic campaigns and issue working groups in order to win pivotal legislative victories at the local level, build state power, and to elevate important issues to the national stage. Our theory of change is rooted in a simple concept: we believe that local governments are the leading edge for progressive change in our country. By connecting efforts across cities we can accelerate policy progress and build a movement from the ground up to shift politics and policy at the state and federal level. Our strategic campaigns work seeks to achieve this by building connections between our cities and by building sophisticated “inside/outside” strategy that aligns the work of elected officials with community-based partners, progressive labor unions, policy advocates, and other progressive movement organizations.
We seek to amplify the voices of some of the country’s strongest progressive political leaders and impacted communities as we fight back against the unjust and immoral impacts of state and federal policies that inflict harm on people of color, immigrant communities, and working people. Through this work, we engage members from all across the country, from cities large and small to rural communities. We know that there are progressives at the local level everywhere and our issue work unites their efforts. Our issues ebb and flow, but we are currently educating, connecting, accelerating, and amplifying our members’ work on Affordable Housing, Immigrant Rights, Police Reform, and Economic Justice.
Immigrants, refugees, and our principle of welcoming new arrivals to the US face consistent attacks, both through a concerted effort to end our immigration system as we know it and through the deportation of millions of hard working people. Local Progress works with local elected officials to use the power of their offices to protect immigrant communities through limiting law enforcement and government collaboration with ICE, increasing access to universal representation, and promoting criminal justice reform to keep people out of the deportation pipeline. We are also committed to reducing the harmful impact of inland enforcement and raids, while fighting to pass a clean DREAM Act and defund the targeting and deportation of immigrants at the federal level.
Local Progress Action helped coordinate a sign-on letter of state and local elected officials calling for abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and an end to its brutal immigration enforcement practices.
In North Carolina, LP spearheaded a sign-on letter from 52 local elected officials to North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper encouraging him to veto HB 370, which would require local law enforcement cooperation with ICE. The Governor vetoed the bill. We also supported two LP members, the only two Latina elected leaders in the State, in writing a letter to the governor calling on him to speak out about the ICE raids that targeted counties that had refused to cooperate with ICE.
In April of 2017, we brought together elected officials from 40 municipalities to strategize on what cities and counties would do to combat the Trump administration’s efforts to increase interior enforcement and take punitive measures against sanctuary cities. At the event, we released a practical hands-on toolkit for local elected officials pursuing sanctuary city policies. More than 100 elected officials pledged to uphold and expand their policies.
Since then, Local Progress members have taken more than 150 actions in 94 cities to support local immigrant communities: passing laws to limit police collaboration with ICE, calling on the federal government to pass a clean DREAM act and set aside funding to support with application fees, funding legal defense funds for immigrants in deportation hearings, and much more.
Police reform is a top priority for the Local Progress network, with members committed to reversing mass incarceration, repairing the catastrophic harm perpetrated by the War on Drugs, addressing police brutality and killings, and advancing alternatives to punitive and carceral measures. Our Reform/Transform toolkit enables LP members to compare policing policy across jurisdictions in a consistent fashion and to identify areas where there is room for improvement and guidance on crucial policy solutions. The toolkit offers in-depth looks at policy areas that include decriminalization, ending collaboration with ICE, prison diversion, civilian oversight, bans on profiling, increasing data and transparency, and more. We also work in close partnership with the Center for Popular Democracy and its affiliates on Freedom to Thrive initiatives that invest in community needs instead of punitive systems.
In December 2017, we held our first-ever racial justice summit as 60 Local Progress members and executive directors of black-led community organizations from the Center for Popular Democracy network came together in Baltimore, MD for a conversation on racial equity. We dove deep into Local Progress’s police reform work: talking about everything from asset forfeiture and use of force to officer training and bans on profiling, as well as thinking more broadly about what public safety means in our communities and ways in which our budgeting processes can bring about equity.
As a result, in July 2018, LP and the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) launched our police reform toolkit that looks at a series of metrics and provides resources that local elected officials and their staff can use to assess their city’s current standing and progress across a number of policy areas, drawing from best practices from practitioners and policy groups around the country.
In December 2019, LP released an analysis of 12 cities using the Reform/Transform toolkit methodology on use of force, budget priorities, collaboration with ICE, and independent oversight.
Cities have led successful efforts from raising the minimum wage to guaranteeing paid sick days and predictable scheduling in dozens of cities across the country. These efforts have collectively improved the lives of millions of people across the country. We are focused on continuing this policy progress, as well as working with members to support worker organizing, raise standards across industries, and strengthen union power. We also work with local elected officials to advance a vision of equitable development that empowers and ensures opportunity for those left out of our country’s prosperity, instead of widening inequality and enriching the affluent.
In support of McDonald’s workers, more than 100 LP members wrote to the corporation’s CEO to demand he meet with workers to establish a policy to eradicate sexual harassment in the chain.
In advance of and in response to the Supreme Court decision on Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, more than 20 jurisdictions passed resolutions supporting public sector workers and their right to organize strong unions. These cities are also exploring further policy and action to preserve and expand the freedom of working people to stick together in unions.
In the midst of the Amazon HQ2 sweepstakes, more than 50 LP members across the country supported Seattle councilmembers in their effort to tax big businesses to end homelessness and provide more affordable housing. Once Amazon announced its finalists for HQ2, LP members spoke out against an attempt to pit their cities against each other. Seattle members organized and traveled to share lessons from their city with NYC and Nashville.
LP members in multiple cities sent supportive messages to the Austin City Council outlining how well paid sick time is working in their cities as Austin geared up for their own vote on paid sick days. Shortly thereafter, Austin became the first city in the South to pass paid sick leave.
Subsequently, LP members worked together to advance the multi-city paid sick days effort that passed laws in Dallas and San Antonio and beat back state attempts to take away new rights from millions of Texans.
LP members have mobilized together in support of working people on strike or taking direct action in dozens of instances, including the Red for Ed movement, the 2019 General Motors strike, the 2019 Stop & Shop strike, and more. Local elected officials also joined together in advocacy of the Raise the Wage Act to lift wages to $15.
At Local Progress, we are building a new model of public leadership to meet our communities’ housing needs because we believe everyone should have a safe, dignified, and affordable place to call home. Our approach is to build more housing because we simply don’t have enough homes, while we also fight for stronger tenant protections and rent regulation, in addition to inclusive zoning and sustainable planning. Our priority is to envision housing policy that meets the needs of people, especially communities of color, not the models most lucrative to the real estate industry. We’re up against many challenges, from skyrocketing rents to entrenched segregation and discrimination in housing markets. But by learning from each other and committing to shared principles, LP members can win an expansion of affordable housing and renter protections envisioned by and in support of people experiencing housing insecurity and homelessness.
In the fall of 2019, Local Progress hosted our first ever convening focused on housing in Durham, NC. More than 40 LP members spent two days in workshops, discussing various policy levers to address housing affordability and displacement including land use policy, long-term affordability and a wide range of tenant protections.
In late 2019, Local Progress launched a cohort project with Grounded Solutions Network to support 15 members in mid-size cities make plans to get ahead of gentrification and displacement in their growing cities.
Local Progress Action New York helped organize elected officials across the state to support sweeping tenant protection reforms and repeal the ban on rent control for New Yorkers outside Metro NYC in 2019. Today, Local Progress is working with members in municipalities across the state to opt into rent stabilization.