Community Organizations in Action Helps Diverse Constituencies Pass the Future Energy Jobs Act in Illinois

October 26, 2017

Community Organizations in Action (formerly National People’s Action) works to promote economic, racial and social equity through national, regional and local advocacy campaigns. Its People and Planet First Campaign aims to address the triple crisis of expanding inequality, a broken democracy and a planet in peril. Thanks to support from Voqal, this campaign experienced a big win in Illinois with the passage of the Future Energy Jobs Act. This law will require Illinois to generate 25 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2025, investing nearly $750 million in solar, energy efficiency and green jobs training programs serving low-income communities.

By going deep within impacted communities and building a base of grassroots leaders with a shared stake in the issues, Community Organizations in Action won a radically more just and ambitious renewable energy policy that would have otherwise been impossible in the state of Illinois. The Community Organizations in Action-led coalition ensured the movement wasn’t just made up of the usual suspects, but also communities of color and working-class people as well. By bringing its leaders into a productive, if sometimes tense, partnership with non-grassroots groups, it fended off attempts to water down and ultimately passed the most racially and economically just clean energy bill in the state’s history.

While the fight was not a perfect one, it developed a powerful model that people of color and the working class can use to organize themselves to pass game-changing energy and climate policies in the future. It also illustrates the power of organizing and crafting policy around the needs of communities of color and low-income communities to widen the scope of what the climate action movement demands. In this moment of uncertainty and unprecedented attacks on the world’s climate and its communities, Community Organizations in Action hopes this win will serve as an actionable sign of hope.

Voqal believes that a truly just world requires a more equitable one. Community Organizations in Action’s work in Illinois not only advanced a policy that should lead to increased social equity, but it engaged a diverse coalition to do so. We are proud to have supported this progressive approach to positive public policy and look forward to Community Organizations in Action’s continued success at creating a more engaged and equitable world.