Introduction and Background
Prior to the formation of Virginia Organizing, formerly known as the Virginia Organizing Project (VOP), no statewide organization existed in Virginia to encourage the active participation and empowerment of many different groups of people on a variety of issues. As government policy and control shifted dramatically from the federal to the state and local levels, it became clear to Virginia Organizing’s founders that statewide organizing work was needed.
Virginia Organizing, founded in August 1995, is a statewide grassroots organization dedicated to challenging injustice by empowering people in local communities to address issues that affect the quality of their lives. Virginia Organizing especially encourages the participation of those who have traditionally had little or no voice in our society. By building relationships with diverse individuals and groups throughout Virginia, Virginia Organizing enhances their ability to work together at a statewide level, democratically and non-violently, for change.
The overall purpose of Virginia Organizing is to create a strong political force for long-term change which has a diverse grassroots base and includes people who have not been active before.
Virginia Organizing Milestones
VOP supports adding sexual orientation and gender to existing Virginia hate crime laws in the 1998 General Assembly. VOP sponsors workshops on understanding the economy and on community development finance. VOP is encouraged by living wage campaigns in Alexandria and initiates campaigns in Charlottesville and at the University of Virginia. The Lee County Chapter challenges the county jury selection process, successfully implementing a random selection process; for the first time, an African-American serves as jury commissioner. The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond sets up a Community Development Advisory Council to deal with issues concerning low-income and working class people.
generosity and the effectiveness of deep, grassroots work, we succeed.
In 2018 the Virginia General Assembly finally expanded Medicaid. This victory was the culmination of eight years of work by the Healthcare for All Virginians Coalition, of which Virginia Organizing was a vital part. Our leaders demonstrated to their legislators how important this access to health care would be to their lives. Our rallies, TV news interviews, newspaper articles, and face-to-face meetings with legislators showed the urgency of the problem and of the common sense solution that was so readily available. After years of work, we won!
Your help was essential. The resources to bring organizers to directly affected people in our chapters came from you. You made this victory possible.
What holds us together?
Our core values guide everything we do. We want justice, and we know that people who are directly affected by injustice are the ones who understand what they need. So it’s not enough for us to see political change or new policy. We seek change not only in our laws but also in who sits at the table and makes those decisions.
We recruit leaders who know first hand why it matters whether education funding goes to school resource officers or restorative justice training. We work at every chapter meeting to teach each other how to be effective, and that’s why we celebrate every new skill a member learns, every new one to one conversation, and every donation. It’s the only way to build the power we need to make it happen!
Thank you for being part of this transformative grassroots movement. Your contributions
inspire us to keep moving forward. –Del McWhorter, Chairperson
It wasn’t easy. We had to shift to car rallies and online meetings—when bringing people together in person is our greatest strength—but the urgency of the pandemic also forced us to get creative and try many new ways for real people to make real change.
You made the first part of our 25th Anniversary year a success by donating more grassroots funding than ever before!