Power + Justice = Freedom: About Advancement Project National Office
Advancement Project National Office, a next generation multi-racial civil rights organization, is the beneficiary of a new fundraising campaign co-hosted by Custom Ink. Managing Director of Development at Advancement Project National Office Andi Ryder caught up with Custom Ink to share more about their work and the organization’s plans for the future.
CI: What do you want people to know about Advancement Project National Office and the work you’re doing?
AP: Advancement Project National Office has been fighting racism for over 21 years. We are a national organization with very deep roots and relationships in grassroots movements, standing beside our partners and working with them to advance campaigns for change at the local and state level. We believe in the genius of ordinary people and take our lead from impacted communities. We support their vision for freedom and safety, we dream together to create a new world, and we drive strategic interventions to dismantle systemic racism.
We are a multi-racial and multi-generational organization working across the country to demand freedom and safety for communities of color. Our programs include: Justice Project (taking on the criminal justice system), Power & Democracy (protecting and expanding voter access to the polls), Opportunity to Learn (addressing the school to prison pipeline), and Immigrant Justice (decriminalizing migration).
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CI: How has the past year been different for your organization?
AP: There was an inflection point last year that brought new interest and allies to racial justice work. We gained so many new supporters who are looking for ways to learn how to be anti-racist and to become allies in the fight for justice and freedom. It was a big moment because as a racial justice organization led by a Black woman, we don’t usually receive the same level of investment or attention as other national non-profits. At the same time, our staff and partners were deeply affected as we navigated the dualling pandemics of Covid and racism.
Importantly, we also capitalized on opportunities to advance our work. For example, we’ve been working to end the school to prison pipeline for many years with a national campaign demanding #PoliceFreeSchools, and last year saw a wave of wins for our partners and organizers in school districts across the country. School boards started to recognize that police do not make schools safer or healthier learning environments for students of color. Last year brought increased attention and political education to so many more people who are willing to join our calls for change and tackle the systems of white supremacy.
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CI: What do you hope to accomplish in the next year?
AP: More winning! Our campaigns are ramping up and communities are emboldened and exercising their power every day. The uprisings from 2020 weren’t just a moment and that energy won’t just fade away.
Our focus this year will include…
Fighting the backlash on voting rights. Our people showed up to the polls last year, and now states are trying to implement new voter suppression laws to take away their power. Our focus for the last 20+ years has been in protecting access to the polls for people to exercise their power on issues that matter to them and we’ll be doubling down on that.
Connecting the dots on the systemic criminalization of communities of color. The same cops on the street are in our school hallways, and they are embedded and partnering with the immigration enforcement system. Last year provided a spark and wave of interest in racial justice work, and police accountability in particular. There is a huge opportunity over the next year to deepen and broaden the movement by aligning our collective understanding of the systemic criminalization of Black and Brown communities and what it means to re-envision our communities and prioritize supports that create real safety – things like access to quality education, voice in the political process, accessible housing, economic justice, access to addiction or mental health care support, and so much more. We want to connect the dots for people and will be supporting campaigns on the ground that continue to build power, demand justice, and actualize freedom.
CI: Can you talk about the t-shirt design? We’d love to know about the concept behind it.
AP: One of our internal mantras at Advancement Project is that if we aren’t building power, we aren’t doing it right. It’s our special sauce. In thinking about the t-shirt design, we wanted something that we could see people wearing to an action, something that amplified our demands for freedom for Black and Brown communities. For us, Justice and Power aren’t just buzz words, they are in the actual names of our programs. Demanding Power and Justice are essential to achieving our end goal of Freedom for communities of color.
CI: How do you feel custom gear (shirts and more) helps your organization?
AP: Custom swag always matters. We want to bring people into community with us and to shout our demand across the country. The swag you wear can say a lot about who you align with and the values you hold. This gear not only helps us to raise much-needed resources for our work, but it also helps drive our collective call to action that people can’t ignore.
The Custom Ink Advancement Project Fundraiser will run through March 24th. See and support below and tell everyone you know.