At OPAL, people of color and low-income people are in charge. We’re cultivating leadership where we need it the most: among people decision-makers usually overlook. Here, individuals become members and join a growing movement for social justice. Here’s how we do it:
Seasoned community organizers offer OPAL’s members a wide-ranging education in how to win our demands. Members learn campaign planning, power analysis, strategy, fundraising, and explore a variety of tactics – from on-the-ground community base-building to street theater and militant, nonviolent direct action. We develop leadership skills like public speaking, providing testimony, recruiting, phone-banking, and managing money. And we create meaningful opportunities for engagement by encouraging our members to meet decision-makers and OPAL’s allies. We develop leaders from impacted communities through our Bus Riders Unite, Youth Environmental Justice Alliance, and Organizers-In-Training programs.
We serve as a grassroots hub for the regional Environmental Justice movement. Our base of members helps a wide array of organizations stay true to community values. Through OPAL, our members connect to partner and allied organizations across the state, and together we accomplish more than any one organization or group can do alone. Some of our partners include the philanthropic organizations who support our work through grants. Others are organizations who share our passion for justice and work with us to win our campaigns. We work with coalitions like Transportation for Oregon’s Future, Oregon Inclusionary Zoning Coalition, and the Big Tent Air Quality Coalition at the statewide level. Locally, we’re a part of the Healthy Communities Collaborative, Transportation Justice Alliance, Welcome Home Coalition, Multnomah County Climate Justice Collaborative, and Anti-Displacement PDX. And we convene and lead a statewide alliance of membership groups from across the state, aligning to take direct action as one powerful force. These alliances make it possible for OPAL to have a huge impact as we lead and win campaigns. See a list of some of our community partners here.
A campaign is our plan to win. Our members come together to discuss the issues they face and identify their preferred solution, then we develop a campaign plan to make it happen. We have formally-declared campaigns, and other priorities that are still in development but not yet official. To see the list of campaigns we’re currently running, click here. To see some of our past campaign victories, click here.
OPAL is a nonprofit, 501c3 organization, EIN 20-2782595. This means you can donate to OPAL and receive a tax break, and we’ll use that donation to fulfill our mission: building power for environmental justice and civil rights in our communities. We’re proud to keep a minimal portion of our budget dedicated to the boring stuff: management, administration, fundraising, etc. And we deliver a huge bang-for-your-buck. Recent research shows that for every dollar invested in advocacy organizations like OPAL, society gets back more than $115 in returns, cost-savings, and benefits to the public.