The ability to grow and sustain a progressive movement in New York State depends on the strength of organizing infrastructure and grassroots groups in rural communities.

New York State’s progressive movement has accomplished much in recent years, including passage of the Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act (Green Light NY), the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act (FLFLPA), and the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). These examples demonstrate the capability of people-powered movements to affect social change. Ensuring these policies will be implemented equitable for all communities will require robust organizing infrastructure throughout all regions of New York State.

It is widely recognized that rural communities play a vital role in advancing — or stalling — statewide progressive systems change. Despite that, philanthropy has historically underinvested in community organizing and power building in rural communities. Only a fraction of resources is directed to supporting community organizing work — particularly that led by and serving Indigenous, Black, and rural communities of color. Foundations need to create deeper bonds with rural leaders via authentic relationships and equitable access to funding opportunities, technical assistance resources, and participation in statewide tables.

Local funders and grassroots groups