Using Tech to Build Community Power

With the ongoing attacks to our immigrant and Black and Brown communities, it’s now more important than ever that our movement increases our technical capacity. We need to fight back at the ballot during the upcoming Presidential-election year, ensure safe and full participation in the upcoming census, and lift up community-led solutions.

Civic engagement including voter turnout in working-class, immigrant, and communities of color is lower than in whiter, wealthier communities. We know that increased technology capacity in the hands of community organizations can affect broader and deeper civic engagement.

Our goal is to grow civic participation towards community partnership with government that enacts the planning, decision making, and implementation of policies impacting the lives of working-class, immigrant, and communities of color. Despite the fact that Oakland Rising has built a base of over 61,000 voters who support our agenda in Oakland since 2008, the forces of tech corporation money and high-end real estate developers continue to push our communities down. Building political power now is more critical than ever! And, technology holds the key to leveling up our organizing. We must seize upon the Bay’s proliferation of tech knowledge that is too often out of reach of our communities, and provide organizers with tech tools and train them to be technologists.

Oakland Rising, as a connector and incubator for progressive campaigns led by Oakland organizations, has taken on an ambitious project to enhance organizing capacity across our partner organizations. Our Movement Technology Project is a visionary and innovative effort to build the capacity of our 9 community-led member groups to develop technology infrastructure and canvassing efforts to more efficiently and effectively engage individual supporters and amplify the voices and power of working class, immigrant, and people of color in Oakland’s political process.

Launched in 2017 and delivered in partnership with DevLabs, a Latinx-led tech firm, the Movement Technology Project’s key components include:

  1. A 9-month Fellowship that helps staff develop in-house technology expertise; and
  2. A cloud-based Partner Portal to facilitate data sharing and visualization across the collaborative to inform collective strategy.

[Access the full evaluation report of our Movement Technology Projects]

The Movement Technology Fellowship is aimed at organizers who understand their communities and want to learn how to leverage technology to increase their organization’s impact. With the communities of color having higher levels of access to technology in their hands with smartphones, but not necessarily with computers at their home, there is an opportunity to increase access and engage more of Oakland’s working-class, immigrant, and community members of color by creating apps and other tools that are designed specifically with mobile in mind.

The program trains fellows in developing their technical capacity with a focus on web and data admin fundamentals, online organizing, and the ‘Partner Portal’. It prepares the participants as technology leaders for their organizations, who can provide trainings, support, and develop new tools to more effectively engage their bases, and leverage technology to increase their organization’s impact. Fellows receive a $30,000 stipend each as they work on immediate solutions to technical and technological problems within their organizations and identify long-term goals to enhance organizing.

Set to launch this Fall, our Partner Portal will integrate data across our collaborative as well as voter file and census data. To move people up the ladder of civic engagement, our movement needs technology that effectively reaches voters and other residents, tracks their involvement, and analyzes the results. Currently, each individual organization across our collaborative manages their own database giving us no way to integrate our data. Our Partner Portal will enable us and our partners to see the full spectrum of impact of our work across the collaborative, and where the opportunities lie to learn more about Oakland voters and keep them moving up the ladder.

The root of successful organizing is building and managing relationships. The Partner Portal will help us match, connect and grow our relationships across our collaborative to win campaigns that improve the quality of life of Oakland’s low-income, immigrant, and communities of color. The Partner Portal will increase the impact of our organizing as we will be able to consistently and efficiently track current relationships and build upon them, rather than starting from close to scratch with our voter outreach on each new campaign.

It will also help inform our Census 2020 outreach to ensure high levels of participation from our immigrant and monolingual-Spanish communities. With the potential inclusion of the citizenship question, Oakland Rising, as a trusted community messenger, will work to ensure safe and full participation from the Latinx and immigrant communities in the census. Our long-term relationships in the community along with technology to increase our efficiency will help bridge the gap. Full participation in the Census is crucial to ensure access to our fair share of resources and political representation over the next decade.

These Movement Technology Projects are helping us increase power for Oakland’s working-class, immigrant and communities of color. This has never been more critical than now, when wealthier newcomers call for more policing that criminalizes immigrants and communities of color while rapidly displacing our long-standing communities of color. These problems are compounded by the disappearance of affordable housing and living wage employment opportunities along with struggling schools. The voices of low-income, immigrant and voters of color in these debates are critical.

NETWORK


Join Oakland Rising on Facebook Follow Oakland Rising on Twitter Contribute to Oakland Rising