We are proud to share this update with you highlighting the great accomplishments of our members and supporters this year!
Since 2003, Empower DC has been on the front lines of critical efforts to advance racial, economic and environmental justice here in DC. There are no easy victories. Undoing and repairing systemic racism and inequity takes years – even generations. Much of what we accomplished this year is a testament to Empower DC’s longevity, tenacity and persistence in the sacred struggle for justice.
If you are inspired after seeing the progress we made this year, we invite you to be part of the next chapter of our work by making a contribution in any amount. We appreciate your support as we embark on another year on the road to justice.
But first – let’s celebrate! Here are some highlights of 2021:
Kids in Ivy City finally have a safe place to play!
We won a new playground and basketball courts on the site of Ivy City’s historic Alexander Crummell School – which is now open for the community’s use for the first time in decades. Even more exciting - the long vacant Crummell School will be renovated as a community center and park by the end of 2024! We won $20million in the budget for the renovation, plus another $250,000 to conduct Ivy City’s first ever Small Area Plan.
Racial Equity must now be considered in the development process!
We led the DC Grassroots Planning Coalition to victory, winning new language in the city’s Comprehensive Plan – the guiding framework for development in the city – that requires DC’s planning and zoning agencies to use a “racial equity lens” and create a process for considering racial equity within their work.
Public housing will receive $50million in new repairs!
We along with our partners secured $50 million in local money for badly needed public housing repairs. Empower DC was the first organization to campaign for local money for public housing repairs a decade ago, and we have seen that investment grow from zero to now $50million in 2021 and again in 2022 – with hopes that it will become an even larger local budget priority in the future.
Support for Environmental Justice is building in Brentwood and citywide!
We organized Justice for Brentwood, helping residents take legal action to fight against a new polluting bus depot in the already overburdened Brentwood community. And, with key partners, we are co-convening a new DC Environmental justice Coalition that is building a unified policy agenda to advance Environmental Justice citywide.
DC Legacy Project is launched to honor Barry Farm’s legacy!
We launched the DC Legacy Project to advance the vision of our leaders who won historic landmark status for a section of the Barry Farm community early last year. We’re working to ensure that the landmarked buildings become a museum and education space uplifting the ongoing Black-led struggle for land and housing in DC.
This is just a snapshot of our efforts – we also distributed masks and hand sanitizer throughout DC public housing, distributed food to residents in Ivy City and Greenleaf on a weekly basis, helped over 200 residents file applications for STAY DC rental assistance, hosted our weekly radio show uplifting the voices of our members and movement partners, among other efforts.
Every year as I reflect on our work I realize; we have done a lot – but … we’ve only just begun.
Each effort requires dogged follow up to ensure implementation, enforcement and accountability. Each effort grows our knowledge base and ability to help other communities facing similar struggles. Each effort deepens our commitment to Organizing Community Power!
To our members, leaders, supporters, donors and partners – THANK YOU! We can’t do this without you. We are so excited for what we’ll accomplish next with your support.
Parisa Norouzi, Executive Director