When organizations invest in training and coaching their staff and grassroots leaders, campaigns become even more powerful. Success stories, like the one we heard at the Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project (MICOP), helped propel the McCune Foundation to organize local trainings and offer grants to hire coaches.
In 2014, the MICOP board wanted to deepen its commitment to organizing and allocated funds to hire their first full-time community organizer. To build organizing capacity, MICOP won a grant from the McCune Foundation to fund organizing training and coaching for the new organizer and community leaders.
MICOP hired organizer Juvenal Solano who brought valuable experience as a former organizer with the United Farm Workers. Soon after, Cruz Phillips of the Dolores Huerta Foundation was engaged to provide organizing training and to coach Juvenal as he led his first campaign for MICOP.
“Cruz worked biweekly with Juvenal for four months to coach him in coordinating and leading his organizing efforts,” said MICOP Executive Director Arcenio Lopez.
“Cruz worked biweekly with Juvenal for four months to coach him in coordinating and leading his organizing efforts,” said MICOP Executive Director Arcenio Lopez. This was followed by a two-day Community Organizing Retreat led by Cruz. “Five members of MICOP’s staff and ten from the Indigenous Leadership Committee worked with Cruz to lay out a plan for how to organize a successful campaign and build indigenous membership at MICOP,” Arcenio said.
In a few months, Juvenal held 30 one-on-one meetings with constituents and motivated them to host 17 house meetings where friends and neighbors met to discuss concerns. These gatherings built momentum for a community meeting attended by 180 indigenous residents. Participants voted on the first issue they wanted to tackle—convincing the DMV to allow Mixtecs to take driver’s license tests in their native language. This would be essential for the indigenous community to benefit from a new law allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain licenses.
“Cruz helped us develop the strategy for the DMV campaign. She helped clarify our objectives, develop small steps to reach our goals, and identify allies,” Arcenio said.
“Cruz helped us develop the strategy for the DMV campaign. She helped clarify our objectives, develop small steps to reach our goals, and identify allies,” Arcenio said. “Cruz also followed up with Juvenal to make sure the campaign was on track.”
The campaign culminated with a press conference and forum with DMV officials where 250 Mixtecs pressed officials for interpreters during the testing process. The effort was successful, benefiting immigrants throughout California. “The campaign also helped MICOP recruit new leaders who have since started a men’s group to address alcoholism and domestic violence,” Juvenal said.