Downtown Brooklyn Accountable Development Campaign

Organizing for Community-Led Economic Development and Against Gentrification: Major urban centers in the United States are in the midst of a massive development boom. As a result, developers and corporate interests - aided by politicians at all levels of government - are initiating large-scale building projects in low-income communities that in many instances threaten the social and economic fabric, history and identify of those communities. In Downtown Brooklyn, the story is no different. The Mayor’s Downtown Brooklyn Plan, like many development plans happening around the City, places millions of dollars of public subsidies into the hands of developers who will permanently transform – and possibly eliminate – low-income communities. Residents of Fort Greene, particularly on Myrtle Avenue, directly across Flatbush Avenue from Metrotech, are affected by massive development due to the Downtown Brooklyn Plan’s rezoning. Land that for 30 years held a grocery, Laundromat and a 99-cents house wares store has now been emptied for a development project years away. Local residents are at a loss without basic services. Senior citizens from the community are forced to travel over 15 city blocks to purchase food and medication. Many communities in Brooklyn need public dollars for basic infrastructure and services like schools, housing, parks and job training, not stadiums or skyscrapers.

The existing community which lives, works and shops around Downtown Brooklyn and Fulton Mall has been shut out of the decision making process regarding redevelopment plans for several years going on decades. There is ample reason to believe that if these developments are allowed to go forward, the social and economic fabric of the community will be destroyed, and one more Black urban Downtown, rich in history and culture, will fall prey to gentrification. In order to prevent this from happening, we are working to ensure that the redevelopment plans are reopened and reexamined from the critical viewpoint of addressing existing community needs and history.

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NY VOTE

Building Low-Income People’s Electoral and Legislative Power: In early 2006, FUREE became an anchor organization in NY VOTE, a non-partisan voter engagement coalition of unions, faith-based and community-based organizations. NY VOTE seeks to build low-income and working peoples’ capacity to influence the outcome of elections, and bring their voices into local, state and national policy debates. In fall 2005, FUREE knocked on 8,000 doors and turned out thousands of infrequent voters in our target neighborhoods. This year, we built on our success by turning out voters for the gubernatorial race and worked with ally organizations to organize two town hall meetings in Brooklyn with State Assembly and U.S. Congressional representatives and candidates.

The NY VOTE coalition includes Make The Road By Walking in Bushwick, Families United for Racial and Economic Equality in Brooklyn, The Latin American Integration Center in Queens, Mothers On the Move in the Bronx, The New York City Aids Housing Network, The Northwest Bronx Community Clergy Coalition, The NY Civic Participation Project, NY Jobs With Justice, The United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1500, The Professional Staff Congress at CUNY, & the Transport Workers Union Local 100.

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Child Care Campaign

Improving Wages & Working Conditions for Family Daycare Providers: FUREE is organizing the 8,000 plus licensed family daycare providers who are paid by contract with the City of New York. These workers, the overwhelming majority of whom are women of color, provide subsidized home-based day care (also known as “family daycare”) to low-income families in the City. Child care is recognized as a major factor in community economic development, both as a means to allow parents to work, and as a local industry which employs NYC residents who then spend their money in their communities. Unfortunately, much of this potential is squandered because child care work, particularly for family day care providers, is grossly undervalued. Most family daycare providers paid by the City of New York earn less than $15,000 per year and must choose between providing services for the children in their care and putting food on their own tables. As a result, a staggering 30% of family daycare providers are forced to leave the sector each year.

Our long term organizing goal is to work in partnership with unions and advocacy and community based organizations to win better wages and working conditions for these vital caregivers. In the short term, we are building our base through a number of local issues vital to providers’ survival. These issues include fighting for increased pay and continuing to pressure the State’s Office of Children & Family Services (OCFS) to change policies that threaten the existence of hundreds of family day care centers.

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FUREE-ous Youth

Building Power for Young People of Color: FUREE has always taken an intergenerational approach to building a community base and platform—our membership is comprised of whole families, including several youth who have grown up in FUREE and participated in meetings, events and actions. Last fall, two of our youth leaders convinced our membership and Board to create a youth organizing project to build youth leadership and address issues of concern to young people in Brooklyn. In full support of our youth members and in line with the mission of our organization, FUREE designed a three-pronged youth organizing initiative to promote youth-led change in Brooklyn. This includes grassroots organizing, coalition building and leadership development.

FUREE’s new youth organizing initiative takes a three-pronged approach, using grassroots organizing, coalition building and leadership development to build youth power. This year, we will be continuing our work with the Urban Youth Collaborative Student Union, a city-wide collaboration of youth organizations working to address issues of school safety, working to reallocate resources to students’ education rather than metal detectors and security personnel. We will also do intensive recruitment and leadership development with a core of 20 youth who will then work to identify a local campaign to actively engage 100 youth.

Past Campaigns: Education & Training

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