2018 ANNUAL REPORT
WHO WE ARE KENTUCKIANS FOR THE COMMONWEALTH is a community of people, inspired by a vision, building New Power and a better future for all of us. Together, we organize for a fair economy, a safe environment, fairness and equality, and a healthy democracy. We have 14 chapters and over 12,000 members in nearly all of Kentucky’s 120 counties.
TABLE OF CONTENTS 2 KFTC Members At-A-Glance 3 Letter from the Chair 4 KFTC Leader Reflections 6 Leadership Development 8 Action for Democracy 11 Action for Democracy: By-the-Numbers
WE HAVE A VISION We are working for a day when Kentuckians – and all people – enjoy a better quality of life. When the lives of people and communities matter before profits.
12 General Assembly 14 P oor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival 15 America, Our Lives Are On the Line 16 Power House Workshops
When our communities have good jobs that support our families without doing damage to the water, air, and land.
17 Celebrating Pride
When companies and the wealthy pay their share
18 S upporting Miners & Their Communities
of taxes and can’t buy elections. When all people have health care, shelter, food, education, and other basic needs. When children are listened to and valued. When discrimination is wiped out of our laws, habits, and hearts. And when the voices of ordinary people are heard and respected in our democracy.
20 Racial Justice, Equity, & Inclusion 22 2018 Financials 23 Looking Ahead to 2019
KFTC MEMBERS AT-A-GLANCE WHERE ARE OUR MEMBERS?
NUMBER OF MEMBERS PER COUNTY
MEMBERS IN OFFICE:
54 24 of 33 members of our Steering Committee and Executive Committee are women
Our youngest steering committee member is 16
IN THE MEDIA:
46 54 38
Member contributions to balancing the scales Members quoted in media publications Publications featuring KFTC or our members, including the New York Times, NBC, and The Nation
Members ran for office in 2018 Right now in Kentucky, there are 2 members sitting as mayor of their town, 5 on their city commission, and 9 in our state legislature!
MEMBERSHIP AND GRASSROOTS FUNDRAISING:
12,142 874 $112,000
Sustaining Givers The estimated amount that Sustaining Givers will contribute during 2019
LETTER FROM THE CHAIR In the past year, we’ve taken big steps toward our vision. We had conversations with thousands of Kentuckians across the state through our Action for Democracy program to learn what they care about and to engage them to vote in the 2018 elections. We helped elect more than two dozen progressive candidates – including many KFTC members! – to local and statewide office. We began the work of an extensive organizational racial justice assessment that will strengthen our equity and inclusion lens, both internally and externally. We had our most successful spring grassroots fundraising campaign ever, raising nearly $125,000 in just three months. And we piloted two unique leadership development programs that strengthened the skills of dozens of new organizers across the state. These two programs – our Community Organizer Apprentice Program and the KFTC Organizing Academy – are some of the most exciting things I’ve been a part of in my time at KFTC because it’s just what we need right now: training more organizers who can help reclaim Kentucky and the nation for the people, not profits. In this critical moment in our history, KFTC decided to be proactive – to share what we’ve learned about organizing and building grassroots power over the last thirty-seven years.
META MENDEL-REYES MADISON COUNTY
Because of my experience in training farm workers for leadership, I had the opportunity to co-lead the Organizing Academy. In the first session, we explored the history of KFTC in the context of what was happening in the state and the nation at the time. One participant said that they never realized that, despite all the challenges, KFTC’s grassroots power had made such a difference; she said that she felt for the first time that change is really possible when people come together. That participant was exactly right. At KFTC, we’re in the business of building people power. And the only way I know how to do that is through organizing. If we’re going to turn things around, we have to build long-term grassroots power – people power – that brings together young folks, people of color, LGBTQ+ folks, rural and urban communities, folks with disabilities, unemployed and underemployed people, and many others around a vision, and organize to make that vision a reality. The upcoming elections in 2019 and 2020 are just one opportunity to do that – to have conversations with Kentuckians about issues that are important to them, hold candidates and leaders accountable, and shape the narrative about the kind of future we want. It will be a challenging couple of years, for sure, but it will also be an exciting opportunity to have a positive impact through what we do best – organizing grassroots power.
KFTC LEADER REFLECTIONS ON 2018 For over thirty-seven years, Kentuckians For The Commonwealth has focused on leadership development and community organizing to build grassroots power and achieve our vision for Kentucky. It’s an intentional long-term approach that empowers people affected by injustice to improve the quality of life for all. In the two years since the 2016 election, progressives across the country have been grappling with questions about how to fight the near daily attacks on our values, our democracy, and our most vulnerable folks. And in Kentucky, we’ve been dealing with these same questions – how do we do long-term, power building work when there are Kentuckians that are hurting today?
We don’t claim to have all the answers to these questions but we do know that we’re in a critical moment in Kentucky and across the country, one where the work we’re doing right now can have significant, long-term impacts on so many people. With this in mind, we invited three KFTC leaders – Meta Mendel-Reyes, Cassia Herron, and Jeanie Smith – to share their reflections on this critical moment, their motivations for continuing when this work gets hard, and what it’s going to take to have the impact we want in 2019, 2020, and beyond. These are some highlights of their conversations.
WHY DOES THIS FEEL LIKE A CRITICAL MOMENT? Why does this feel like a critical moment for you? For your family? For Kentucky?
CASSIA: “I feel a responsibility for – not just my family –
“We’re in a moment,
but for those around me who are working hard every day to
historically, where power is
put food on the table.”
being consolidated. So we’ve got to build people
JEANIE: “If we’re not actively working hard, right now,
power. And the only way I know
then we’re going to lose our democracy, we’re going to
how to do it is through organizing.”
lose what we value, and our communities are going to suffer. Everybody has a role to play. It’s activating people
META MENDEL-REYES, MADISON COUNTY
into what they can do – whether it’s writing letters to the
editor or running for office or organizing people to speak out – everybody’s got a job to do in this fight.”
WHAT KEEPS YOU GOING WHEN THINGS GETS HARD? We took big steps toward our vision in 2018 – we piloted two unique leadership development programs that strengthened the skills of dozens of new organizers, we implemented our most robust Action for Democracy program to date and had conversations with thousands of Kentuckians in the process, we defeated legislation for the second year in a row that would have gutted net-metering in Kentucky, and so much more.
But the year was also challenging. The Republican supermajority pushed through legislation that gave tax breaks to the wealthiest Kentuckians, our conservative Governor has been working to pass work requirements for Medicaid recipients, the most vulnerable Kentuckians – communities of color, undocumented folks, our LGBTQ+ family – have been under relentless attack, and more.
When times are challenging, what keeps you motivated and keeps you in this work?
“One of the reasons I’m committed to KFTC’s work is because we’re committed to a vision of something else. We believe there’s something else that’s possible.” CASSIA HERRON, JEFFERSON COUNTY KFTC Vice-Chairperson
META: “It helps me to think about being part of a journey that was going before me and is going to continue after me. We may not win, but if we don’t try, isn’t that the same as saying we don’t care?” JEANIE: “I had tons of people volunteering with our campaign and it was people that I’d never met before, people from all different walks of life. And that helps motivate me to keep going: to know we’re not in this alone and we have a community of people that do want the same things.”
WHAT’S IT GOING TO TAKE? In 2019, Kentucky’s statewide officers – including the Governor, Secretary of State, Auditor, and others – will be up for election. This is followed by our state representatives, half of our state senators, Congressional races, Senator McConnell’s race, and the next Presidential race, all happening in 2020.
These races give us the opportunity to build on what we learned in 2018 and deepen relationships with more Kentuckians, educate members, candidates, and the public about our issues and vision for Kentucky, and make a significant, long-term impact on the lives of all Kentuckians. What’s it going to take to have the impact we want?
“It’s going to take having every single person be all in. We’re going to have to give money. We’re going to have to knock on doors. We’re going to have to make phone calls. And we’re going to have to commit to doing that.” JEANIE SMITH, WARREN COUNTY Candidate for Kentucky Senate in 2019
META: “We’re in the business of building people power and even if we get better people in office, we’re still going to have to be organizing to build the kind of Kentucky we want to live in.” CASSIA: “You never stop being afraid. You just fight through the fear. We’ve got to fight through the fear to get to the truth and we’ve got to speak the truth and we’ve got to help motivate other people to do that.” 5
LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT Throughout our thirty-seven year history, leadership development has been our most important strategy – one that makes all our other strategies possible. At the direction of KFTC’s leadership after the 2016 election, we’ve experimented with two new ambitious leadership development programs: the KFTC Organizing Academy and the Community Organizer Apprentice Program. Both programs have some of the same broad goals, which are to expand the culture of organizing in Kentucky, deepen the bench of trained organizers across the state, and build lasting relationships with newly engaged Kentuckians. But they go about their goals in different ways.
KFTC ORGANIZING ACADEMY The KFTC Organizing Academy is a popular education style program where leaders with a passion for social justice can learn organizing skills while helping make tangible, positive change in Kentucky. In January 2018 an initial cohort of around twenty folks participated in an intensive six-month introductory-level organizing training program that included monthly in-person trainings as well as hands-on practice between meetings. Academy graduates have been taking back what they learned to their local communities and putting their new skills and confidence into action through local organizing efforts, including leading their local Democracy Teams’ voter registration, education, and mobilization efforts around the election; organizing workshops on issues of immigration, gender and sexual identity, and how to be a good ally; becoming a spokesperson for the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival; helping to organize Spanishspeaking chapter meetings, and more.
“The Organizing Academy was a wonderful learning experience. I learned so many new things that I will and have already put into practice. I was able to meet people from all over Kentucky and have all kinds of dialogue on the issues that affect us and how to address them.” ALONDRA GARCIA, MADISON COUNTY
LEFT: Members of the inaugural KFTC Organizing Academy cohort at their graduation celebration in June. As part of their closing activity, they created headlines or creative visions for Kentucky, KFTC and the organizing academy 10 years from now (featured on the wall behind the participants).
COMMUNITY ORGANIZER APPRENTICE PROGRAM The pilot Community Organizer Apprentice Program was a nineteen-month on-the-job training program where more than a dozen folks were fully integrated in KFTC’s staff team and received – in addition to a full-time salary and benefits – in-depth training, support, and experience as Community Organizers. Some worked as chapter organizers, others worked on issue campaigns. But they all worked to develop leaders as they themselves were developing their own organizing skills and confidence. Throughout the program, Apprentices worked with chapters’ local Economic Justice work teams in building support for comprehensive tax reform. They worked with the Central Kentucky Energy & Equity
Team to have conversations and build power with folks about their utilities’ energy efficiency programs. They supported local Democracy Teams that were educating and engaging with community members about KFTC’s issues. They built power with folks in our at-large areas through the Power House energy efficiency workshops. They developed leaders and nurtured our newest chapter, Cumberland, which covers Laurel, Knox, Whitley and Pulaski counties in southeast Kentucky and supported a robust local racial justice committee. They supported the first ever Pride celebration in Pikeville and are having follow-up conversations with folks about organizing support for a local Fairness ordinance. And much more.
“When we have more people able to do the work and build with each other, we win. The more we invest in building organizing capacity, the more power we have to affect change in our communities. If we want to win, we need to build power, and the Apprentice Program is an excellent strategy for building power. Having a robust apprentice team in Bowling Green was instrumental to winning local and state offices, and the same is true in other parts of the state. I have no doubt that growing this program will lead to many more success stories, including winning elections and winning on policy, in the future.”
“Instead of having to scramble to fight the power after working multiple jobs, the program allowed me to scramble to fight the power and only worry about having one job. KFTC has so much knowledge as an organization and this program is important not just for others to learn from, but for KFTC to learn from others as well. We are all working towards collective liberation and it’s just as important that we learn from each other and share our own experiences. We will not win without each other and that is exactly why this program is so important.”
LAURA HARPER-KNIGHT, WARREN COUNTY
DEBRAUN THOMAS, FAYETTE COUNTY
Through these two programs, we’ve learned that this kind of intentional grassroots leadership development takes time. It takes time to build relationships with folks, to develop their leadership skills, knowledge, and confidence, and to see the results of their organizing.
But if we’re to be successful and have the impact we seek, it will take these kinds of long-term investments and going even deeper: helping leaders to develop the leadership skills of others, experimenting with different kinds of leadership development opportunities, and continuing to connect with folks wherever they are. 7
ACTION FOR DEMOCRACY For over thirty-seven years, KFTC has worked for a fair economy and a just tax system, a safe and sustainable environment, racial and economic justice, full and fair access to health care, and more. And we know that none of these goals are possible here in Kentucky without a healthy democracy. In November 2017, we launched our Action for Democracy campaign to build a healthy, more participatory democracy in Kentucky by engaging tens of thousands of voters, shifting the narrative to reflect our vision and values, training and encouraging scores of new political candidates, and helping elect good candidates to represent Kentucky.
DEMOCRACY TEAMS Members created more than a dozen local Democracy Teams across the state. They helped set ambitious and strategic goals to build grassroots power, develop local leadership, and get us closer to our vision for Kentucky. To help meet their goals, they developed and carried out plans to register hundreds of new voters, to engage with thousands of folks through community events, phonebanks, texting, and canvassing, and to educate candidates and the public about key issues through candidate surveys, candidate forums and town halls, and voter education workshops. 8
ABOVE: Members of the Madison County Democracy Team organized a Democracy Headquarters at the Berea office that coincided with a weekly music festival in the neighborhood where members led canvasing teams to work the festival crowd, registering voters, having conversations, and engaging folks with the local voter guide. When the music festival wasnâ€™t happening, the Democracy Headquarters served as a space where folks could stop in do those same activities all week long!
VOTER EDUCATION Educating candidates, the general public, and members about key issues was a significant part of our work. We developed candidate surveys for candidates at the federal, state, and local level, factchecked and researched candidate responses, and compiled the data that went into multiple versions of a voter guide. Voter guides were used in canvassing, forums, community events, and posted online at www.KentuckyElection.org so that more folks could learn where candidates stood on issues like supporting clean energy policies, the role progressive tax reform can play in helping fund local schools, restorative justice, supporting LGBTQ+ rights, and more.
Students at Iroquois High School in Jefferson County organized and led a town hall with local legislators to have a conversation about issues of immigration, funding for higher education, gun safety, and equitable distribution of resources among public schools. ABOVE: Students holding up agree or disagree signs to legislators’ responses. LEFT: Afi H. Tagnedji answering questions from local media.
ELECTING OUR VISION The work by the Democracy Teams was instrumental in KFTC’s New Power PAC endorsement process. Using the candidate surveys as a baseline, we evaluated the local landscape, strategized which races could have an impact on their organizing campaigns, researched candidates and their positions, and interviewed dozens candidates. In the end, based on the recommendations from local Democracy Teams, KFTC’s New Power PAC endorsed thirteen candidates in the primary and a record seventy candidates in the general election. 9
WHAT WE’RE LEARNING Of the eighty-three candidates we endorsed in the primary and general election, thirty-one candidates won their races, including races for local office, state House and Senate, and Congress. While we didn’t win in every race we engaged in, we executed our most robust voter engagement fieldwork plan to date and we learned a lot about our organizational strengths and challenges, the political landscape in Kentucky, the voter engagement work of our allies, and what is on the hearts and minds of thousands of Kentucky voters.
Dana Beasley Brown, a KFTC leader and former KFTC Chairperson, ran for Bowling Green City Commission. In a 12-person at-large race with 4 strong incumbents, Dana received 15 percent of the vote (the 2nd highest vote-getter), beating out three-quarters of the incumbent council members and breaking into a City Commission that progressive candidates had previously found impossible to get into. She did it by taking her message directly to voters, leading with vision, relentlessly going door to door, leveraging her experience as a grassroots leader, investing in her community members, and investing in herself by participating in extensive candidate training before she ran. 10
And we learned more about the scale it takes to win local, state, and federal elections and where and how we can have the most impact on voter turnout. We capitalized on the opportunity to endorse many of the inspiring and progressive candidates running for office this year. But the breadth of endorsements reminded us of how difficult it can be to make substantial impacts on such a wide variety of races. We know that it will take more resources and staff and volunteer capacity to get to the scale we need to win big in future election years.
ACTION FOR DEMOCRACY BY-THE-NUMBERS VOTER EDUCATION AND ENGAGEMENT We surveyed candidates in both the primary and general election and were able to share 333 candidate responses with our members and Kentuckians through:
Visits to KentuckyElection.org
• P rinted voter guides (for local and statewide races) • P osting candidate responses online and creating localized ballots at KentuckyElection.org
• M ailing postcards about the information • O rganizing candidate forums, town halls, and other community engagement activities
Voter Empowerment Organizers hired to work in all six regions in Kentucky
Printed voter guides
Town halls organized to hold elected leaders accountable for the work they’re doing
Candidate forums organized to educate members and the general public where candidates stood on KFTC’s issues
MEMBERS RUNNING FOR OFFICE:
54 25 35
MEMBERS RAN FOR OFFICE IN 2018!
Members that ran for office were women
Ran for the state legislature
Ran for local office
WON THEIR RACES!
Right now in Kentucky, there are 2 members sitting as mayor of their Were first-time candidates
town, 5 on their city commission, and 9 in our state legislature!
GENERAL ASSEMBLY Each year Kentuckians from across the state make the trip to Frankfort to make their voices heard on issues that are important to them. KFTC members have a long track record of helping to pass important legislation, and stopping bad ideas before they become law by meeting with legislators, testifying before committees, and holding rallies and demonstrations at the Capitol. We share stories and information with legislators to promote ideas that can improve the quality of life in our state. And we hold lawmakers accountable if they ignore the needs of their constituents. With Republicans holding the majority in both chambers, the 2018 General Assembly was challenging in many ways. But KFTC members and allies showed up at Frankfort and from home and fiercely fought for our vision for Kentucky.
FIGHTING FOR KENTUCKY’S GROWING SOLAR INDUSTRY During Kentucky’s 2018 General Assembly, a bill was introduced for the second year in a row that would gut the existing netmetering law and rewrite the rules to reward monopoly utility companies and punish consumers by establishing a new value for solar energy credits based only on the costs claimed by the utility, while disregarding the many benefits that net-metered solar energy systems deliver to utilities and all non-participating customers. Members wrote op-eds and letters to the editor, educated their elected officials about why the proposed bill was bad for consumers and for renewable energy, attended committee meetings, developed alternative proposals with allies, and much more. Ultimately, the bill didn’t pass in large part due to the work of grassroots organizing, combined with the significant backlash legislators received about giving more decision-making power about rates to the Public Service Commission. This win is significant in that the committee the bill was assigned to was under overwhelming Republican and fossil fuel control, this is the second defeat such legislation received in two years, and it shows how effective grassroots organizing can be, even when it seems the odds are insurmountable. 12
ABOVE: Tona Barkley (Owen County), Rachel Norton (Fayette County), Virginia Meagher (Breathitt County), and Nancy Reinhart (Shelby County) traveled to Frankfort during the General Assembly to fight for the growing solar industry in Kentucky.
ABOVE: Members from around Kentucky came to Frankfort to participate in our Economic Justice lobby day during the General Assembly. LEFT: KFTC members turned out in solidarity with educators and public employees at multiple rallies.
FUNDING THE KENTUCKY WE DESERVE After successfully working with members and allies in 2017 to stop two proposed special sessions on regressive tax reform and public pension reform, we carried this momentum into the 2018 Kentucky General Assembly. It was a budget year, which meant we had the opportunity to continue our work to shift the narrative around tax reform – why we need a state budget that adequately funds our schools, public services, and other necessities, and the role progressive tax reform can play in getting us there.
While we were unsuccessful in stopping these bad proposals in the face of a Republican supermajority, tens of thousands of Kentuckians – including KFTC members from Paducah to Pikeville – pushed back in large and small ways, organizing multiple rallies at the capitol, hosting town halls across the state to educate members and decision makers about the local impacts of legislation, and writing numerous op-eds, letters to the editor, and social media posts that lifted up their vision for a better Kentucky.
However, the 2018 budget proposed by Governor Bevin included cutting funding for numerous essential services as well as eliminating funding for seventy state programs. At the same time, the state legislature proposed tax reform that would give tax breaks to the wealthiest Kentuckians as well as proposed public pension reform that would increase the financial burden on public employees and make their pensions overall less secure.
And most importantly, throughout the 2018 General Assembly we developed invaluable relationships with a diverse coalition of allies that included folks from labor, education, public workers, health care advocates, faith communities, and other sectors. We deepened and strengthened these relationships, such that when Governor Bevin called a last-minute special session on pension reform – the same pension reform that had been struck down by the state supreme court – one week before Christmas, we worked with these allies to mobilize opposition. With just four hours notice, over a hundred folks showed up to the Capitol to voice their opposition and within two days, the session was shut down with no action being taken.
We spent the better part of the session working with allies to organize opposition to these proposals while also advocating for visionary alternative proposals. We organized six town halls across the state to hear from members and the general public; we hosted twelve webinars with campaign updates and ways folks can take action throughout the session; and we organized seven chapterbased workshops to educate members and others about the state budget, tax reform, and pension reform. We held off these terrible proposals until the eleventh hour when – just two days before the close of the session – Republican leadership struck a deal behind closed doors to pass these bills without committee hearings, without public input, and ignoring the overwhelming outcry from Kentuckians.
POOR PEOPLE’S CAMPAIGN: A NATIONAL CALL FOR MORAL REVIVAL Throughout the year, we partnered with both the national and Kentucky Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, a campaign that calls attention to the intersections of poverty, systemic racism, and environmental devastation and builds power among the communities that are the poorest and most often ignored. In the spring we hosted a community conversation in Benham in southeastern Kentucky with Dr. Reverend William Barber, Reverend Liz Theoharis, and the Poor People’s Campaign. Nearly 150 people from across eastern Kentucky came together and shared their stories of struggle, but also how they are organizing and seeing folks take action to advance justice and protect what matters. We also supported members to participate in the official campaign launch at the local level in Frankfort on May 14, as well as the national launch in Washington D.C. on the same day. And with the Kentucky campaign, we helped organize weekly actions at the state capitol during the 40 Days of Action – with a different focus each week, including ecological devastation, systemic racism, voting rights, immigration, poverty, the war economy, and the right to health – where hundreds of people attended, were trained in nonviolent direct action, and many KFTC members served as spokespeople. 14
“It’s time that we empower our voices and work on these issues and show people that this is real, this is happening in your community, that it’s happening all over the world and we have to do something about it.” CHASE GLADSON, HARLAN COUNTY
AMERICA, OUR LIVES ARE ON THE LINE BY: MIKAELA CURRY, PIKE COUNTY
My Country ‘tis of thee, sweet land of liberty America, of thee I wonder what you mean when you say Give me your tired, your poor Because not too tired, not too poor Because even birth can be a preexisting condition, any turn of health a devastating imposition and certain care only available for the price of admission MY COUNTRY, YOUR COUNTRY, THIS COUNTRY AMERICA, OUR LIVES ARE ON THE LINE OF THEE WE PLEAD, FOR THOSE IN NEED America, of thee we sing – songs of grief and worry, songs of sickness and debt songs to Lady Liberty, I wonder would she have wept? For the cause of her people, for care for you and me She said, give me your huddled masses yearning to breathe free But what if they needed help, what if breathing wasn’t free? Would the treatment be too costly, would they fall through the cracks? Would the weight of their own sickness be born upon their backs? People talk of taxes, people talk of jobs, people talk of people as though they are to blame for getting sick, for being poor, for needing help – the shame! But this is not the way that it always has to be There are enough resources to care for you and me MY COUNTRY, YOUR COUNTRY, THIS COUNTRY AMERICA, OUR LIVES ARE ON THE LINE OF THEE WE PLEAD, FOR THOSE IN NEED Land where my fathers died where generations have tried – to construct a system worthy of that pilgrim’s pride and of failings we know that there haven’t been few There are problems and gaps, but victories too – Let us not halt progress for political views But, more let us see that those who do suffer are never the nameless, but always our brother and sisters and children without clean water to drink Death slowly dripping from their own kitchen sink Don’t forget or ignore it, or go on your way because this isn’t all happening in a place far away:
Mikaela reading her poem at the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival event in Frankfort on June 4, 2018. Photo credit: Allison Crawford
MY COUNTRY, YOUR COUNTRY, THIS COUNTRY AMERICA, OUR LIVES ARE ON THE LINE OF THEE WE PLEAD, FOR THOSE IN NEED For basic human rights, for basic human care For compassion over profits, for people everywhere For higher care, for lower costs, for not letting the people find themselves lost Because it’s always the poor who pay the cost first and it’s always the poor who are treated the worst Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me Oh America, land that loves to call itself free, while its people are dying and shackled in debt healthcare held hostage – our lives pay the threat People do not have to die cause they’re poor Together we stand up and we stand up for more: MY COUNTRY, YOUR COUNTRY, THIS COUNTRY AMERICA, OUR LIVES ARE ON THE LINE OF THEE WE PLEAD, FOR THOSE IN NEED From every stretch of highway, to the mountains and the sea – let our voices rise, with strength and dignity, Singing songs of truth that we are not alone, and sometimes we need healing for all this flesh and bone Healthcare for all people, let us stand to fight – Let us clearly see the need for this basic human right!
POWER HOUSE WORKSHOPS After the release of the Empower Kentucky plan in April 2017, KFTC staff and leaders assessed the organizing opportunities in Kentucky’s rural electric cooperatives, including an analysis of the median energy burden (percentage of income spent on home electricity costs) within each of the 24 rural co-ops serving Kentuckians. As a result, members in eastern Kentucky worked with our partners at Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED) to develop a workshop curriculum and to organize a series of free Power House Project energy efficiency workshops targeting folks in areas serviced by rural electric cooperatives. The purpose of these workshops is to do our part in reducing energy usage that contributes to the harmful effects of climate change, to build power among folks in our at-large areas who are serviced by rural electric cooperatives, and to help folks lower their increasingly high energy bills.
The workshop curriculum includes strategies for reducing the energy used and wasted by their house, apartment or trailer, and ways to work together to get better support and accountability from our utilities and elected officials on clean energy and energy efficiency programs. We also worked with a data and visualization consultant to develop maps and materials for the workshops that show average energy burden on Kentucky households. Twelve well-attended Power House Workshops were organized in 2018 and they have helped us build relationships with scores of people affected by sky-high energy bills.
“I thought the workshop was very practically focused. It gave people specific things they could do right now that weren’t very hard. And also gave you an overview of what the electric cooperatives can provide, which I think is news to a lot of people. I think it was a combination of good information and good, applicable actions you can take.” SUSAN MCGEE, ROBERTSON COUNTY
CELEBRATING PRIDE Members in eastern Kentucky worked with local ally Progress Pike to organize the first ever Pikeville Pride in October. The event welcomed over three hundred folks from around the region and featured performances from local drag queens, musicians, and speakers who all shared their excitement and hope that this event would help young LGBTQ+ feel more welcome and at home in their communities. Folks organized a follow up meeting to talk about what it would take to organize support for a local Fairness ordinance and are also planning a second annual Pride celebration for the fall of 2019.
â€œI felt as if I were at a very accepting family reunion, like we were all a family. It made me feel a lot more understood as a trans person and as a queer person.â€? NOLAN MAYNARD, MARTIN COUNTY
SUPPORTING MINERS & THEIR COMMUNITIES Members have been organizing with allies in eastern Kentucky – including the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center, the Alliance for Appalachia, and others – since 2015 to build grassroots support for the RECLAIM Act, which would put over $100 million into just transition projects in eastern Kentucky and help create jobs by reclaiming old strip mine sites in ways that create economic and community development. After hearing from a grassroots, community-led movement, the RECLAIM Act was re-introduced in Congress and passed the House Natural Resources committee with an amendment to add more emphasis on economic development and community participation, which was a critical component for which KFTC members and allies had been organizing. From there, we then shifted our focus to passing the House version of RECLAIM in the Senate, putting pressure on Senator McConnell to add RECLAIM to Congress’s omnibus budget bill before the March 23, 2018 deadline. Despite the widespread support from forty bipartisan co-sponsors, thousands of petition signatures, and more than dozen local resolutions in Kentucky, McConnell did not add the RECLAIM Act to Congress’s budget bill before the deadline. As a component of our work on the RECLAIM Act, we devoted much of our organizing to strengthening the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, which provides benefits to folks suffering from black lung disease and their survivors. Although the RECLAIM Act – if passed – would release money that already exists, the House Pay For rule requires that if you’re going to spend that money, you either have to raise money or cut money in the budget. Congressman Hal Rogers of
eastern Kentucky proposed keeping fees from coal companies at its current rate, rather than allow it to decrease as scheduled at the end of 2018, which would cover the cost of RECLAIM as well as shore up the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund. During the fall and winter, we organized in communities across eastern Kentucky to pass sixteen local resolutions of support for the RECLAIM Act and the Black Lung Disability Fund. About a dozen KFTC members and allies delivered those resolutions to Senator McConnell’s London office from eastern Kentucky, demanding that McConnell take action on the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund and the RECLAIM Act.
“I’m pleased to hear that our local government has taken action to support our miners with black lung. The excise tax must be extended to give the miners with black lung a future. And the RECLAIM Act must be supported to bring good jobs to our region, which are dearly needed.” PATTY AMBURGEY, LETCHER COUNTY KFTC member and secretary of the Southeast Kentucky Black Lung Association
KFTC Members urging Senator McConnell to pass the RECLAIM Act at a direct action in the spring.
KFTC members and members of the Alliance for Appalachia – including miners with black lung and family members of those suffering from black lung – traveled to Washington D.C. and met with all eight members of Kentucky’s Congressional delegation and urged members of Congress to support the RECLAIM Act and strengthen the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund.
Members from eastern Kentucky delivered local resolutions of support for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund to Senator McConnell’s office in December.
RACIAL JUSTICE, EQUITY, & INCLUSION This year was one of significant growth and learning for our Racial Justice work and our commitment to equity and inclusion. Internally, we worked to make our staff culture more inclusive and welcoming, providing anti-oppression trainings, creating the Belonging Team whose purpose is to pursue ideas and strategies to help make the staff team more welcoming and to strengthen our anti-oppression lens as a staff team, offering trainings on mental health and self and mutual care, and more. We’re researching approaches to human resources, mediation and conflict resolution, and how we might improve or grow in these areas. We’re also developing a People of Color Caucus that provides a safe and supportive space for staff and members of color. And in the summer, the steering committee went through a dismantling racism workshop, and coming out of that day, they committed to doing an extensive racial justice assessment that can help identify our strengths and gaps, both internally and externally. KFTC chapters have also been digging into issues of racial justice and anti-oppression. Several chapters have done immigration workshops and have engaged recently in the work calling for the abolition of ICE. The Madison County chapter is continuing their First Thursday conversations where members gather monthly to discuss racial justice issues. Local Democracy Teams have included racial justice questions in our candidate surveys that helped inform Kentuckians about where candidates stood on the issue. The Big Sandy chapter co-hosted a Unity Rally in Pikeville on the anniversary of a white supremacist rally held there a year earlier. The Cumberland chapter hosted a film screening of Anne Braden: Southern Patriot and coming out of that, are having robust community conversations about race. Some chapters are working with translators to offer more meetings or materials in Spanish. And the Central Kentucky chapter recently did an exercise to examine how inclusive and welcoming the chapter space is. 20
Staff and KFTC member-facilitators worked to offer many workshops on these same issues during our Annual Meeting. Multiple workshops were about creating inclusive spaces and a movement rooted in anti-racist principles. Those workshops included two sections on each of the following: People of Color Led Movements (about racial justice organizing in Kentucky and how to effectively support these movements), Creating Spaces of Belonging (about anti-oppression within our organizing), and Beyond Pronouns (a workshop on trans+ rights which emphasized intersectional understandings of trans and racial justice and anti-oppression). We remain humble enough to know that we have more to learn, more work to do, and that we’ll still make mistakes as we move forward. These activities taken together are key elements of our work to build a more equitable and inclusive organization and society that we’ll continue to build on in 2019 and beyond.
FINANCIALS INCOME BY SOURCE
EXPENSES BY FUNCTION
In 2018, we raised just over $2 million from over 31 different foundations. This level of foundation support has allowed us to ramp up our program in many ways. While we’re appreciative of all the foundations that support us, we are also constantly working to grow our base of grassroots and major donor support.
A significant portion of our budget goes toward organizers, developing leaders, hosting trainings and workshops, communicating what’s possible and building our long-term grassroots power across Kentucky.
2017 Grassroots Carryover: 19.2%
2018 Grassroots Funds: 9.4%
NUMBER OF GIFTS BY AMOUNT Fundraising gifts are categorized into 8 giving tiers. This chart ranks the total funds raised and the total number of individual gifts according to size. This chart tells an exciting story: most folks give between $1 and $50 in a single gift and these gifts are impactful. Last year, we raised the most money in our highest tier but the second highest tier for total money raised was $15-$50. Smaller, accessible gifts are how we want to build grassroots power.
The biggest tier for each dataset is the longest, dark blue bar. The smallest tier is represented by the lightest and shortest bar. In order to fit everything in one graphic, bar length isn’t exactly to scale with its value.
LOOKING AHEAD TO 2019 At the first steering committee meeting of 2019, KFTC leaders discussed our goals and strategies for our Action for Democracy work for the next two years to answer the questions: how do we want to engage with the upcoming elections and what kind of impact do we want to have on the political landscape? In 2019, all of Kentucky’s statewide offices are up for election, which includes our Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, and Auditor, among others. All this builds toward 2020 when many local and state races will be up for grabs as will a nationally watched race to determine if Senator McConnell will retain his seat and power. These elections offer significant opportunities. Kentucky’s Governor Bevin – who has worked to slash health care and threatened public worker and teacher pensions – is deeply unpopular, and the candidate field for 2019 is a crowded one. Senator McConnell’s impact on the national and global landscape can’t be overstated. Many folks across the country will be looking to Kentucky in 2020 to follow the outcome of this race. The conversation among our leadership was thoughtful, deliberate, grounded, and strategic. They acknowledged that if we’re to have the impact that we want – when everything from health care to fair wages to adequate funding for our schools to LGBTQ+ protections and so much more is at stake – we have to engage. In the end, they overwhelmingly decided to go “all in.”
What does it mean to go all in? We’ll register thousands of new voters and educate them through issue trainings, voter guides, candidate forums, and more. We’ll have conversations with thousands of Kentuckians through doorto-door canvassing, meeting people at community events, digital engagement strategies, phone banks, and texting. We’ll mobilize Kentuckians on Election Day, utilizing social media, email, and phone banks, and offering them rides to the polls to help get out the vote. And after Election Day, we’ll hold elected leaders accountable and engage folks in our issue-work to build – and use – our grassroots power. At the same time, we’ll continue to invest in leadership development and strengthening the skills of organizers through our Community Organizer Apprentice and KFTC Organizing Academy Programs. We’ll more clearly define what counts as a win in this Republican-controlled political climate and broadly communicate out those successes, while also consistently lifting up a healthy democracy framework that sheds light on anti-democratic actions, processes, and policies. We’ll organize issue briefings, at-home meetings, and meetings in Frankfort with legislators and candidates. And we’ll do all this through grassroots organizing that is place-based, prioritizes shared leadership, leads with our vision, and is strategic in its execution. The way we do this work and who we engage has the potential to create significant wins and have a big impact on Kentuckians for the long-term. And that work will continue in 2019 and beyond.
“I will keep fighting for my children. I will keep fighting for this community that I love and the land that is so beautiful and the people that are so good and that are working so hard. And while I don’t necessarily wake up every day with a fighting spirit, I will continue because those things are important. And we can’t close our eyes to it.” – JEANIE SMITH, WARREN COUNTY
P.O. Box 1450, London, KY 40743 (606) 878-2161 www.KFTC.org