WHO WE ARE
Alabama Institute for Social Justice (AISJ) is a nonprofit organization that advocates for social justice and racial reconciliation across the state of Alabama.
We work to remove barriers that limit and/or undermine the economic well-being of women and people of color through leadership development and training, advocacy and public policy, and racial healing and reconciliation.
AISJ works to achieve meaningful and sustainable systems change in support of under-resourced children and families in Alabama’s Black Belt.
Through the advancement of a bold organizational agenda rooted in racial equity and social justice, we seek to go beyond adjustments to the status quo and instead drive transformational change in public policy, organizational culture, and the public narrative within government, businesses, and our communities.
AISJ engages in advocacy to address barriers to quality education and job opportunities, and to ensure a seamless transition for human success from birth to adulthood. Our work varies by issue but always centers on five core policy goals: Intentionality, Integrity, Inclusion, Investment, and Impact.
AISJ uses three core strategies to implement its work: advocacy and public policy, leadership development and training, and racial healing and reconciliation.
Our primary aim is to alleviate the strain of social and political disenfranchisement by using an empowerment model that is implemented through (1) grassroots organizing, including trainings and issue education; (2) identifying public policies that create barriers to economic mobility and then advocating on behalf of those most impacted; and (3) promoting racial healing and reconciliation through community dialogue forums and workshops focused on facilitating diverse understandings.
By focusing on the intersectionality of these three strategies, AISJ facilitates essential change initiatives that address institutional and structural systems of oppression. Using research and data, including feedback from communities, to formulate platform issues, all of AISJ’s work uses a gender and racial equity lens to strategically address the marginalization of these targeted demographics.
As an organization advocating for economic and social justice, AISJ values respect, inclusion, compassion, and equity.
AISJ encourages fostering an amicable and effective organization for all involved, by embracing differences in thought, methodology, and culture.
AISJ is an organization geared towards working across divergent peoples and groups, to ensure justice for all humankind regardless of race, religion, sex, intellect, or disability.
AISJ is sensitive to the needs of humanity and works to demonstrate that care through thoughtful actions, collaborations, and programming.
AISJ seeks to promote fairness across multiple areas including political policy and racial disparity. AISJ has a vested interest in all people being treated fairly and having equal access to resources that will help them live better lives.
Alabama Institute for Social Justice (AISJ), formerly known as the Federation of Child Care Centers of Alabama, Inc. (FOCAL), has existed for 50 years as a nonprofit organization whose purpose and work pioneered during the American Civil Rights Movement. In 1972, then established as a child-care advocacy agency, the organization’s work was launched in response to an outcry from a group of African-American women in Selma, Alabama who sought to achieve quality and equitable child care for their children in disadvantaged areas of rural Alabama. Historically, our work has focused on ensuring quality child care and improving the child care delivery system in Alabama, understanding that child care is vital to not only the education of children, but to the health of communities, and the economic development of the state. While advocating for quality child care remains among the organization’s platform issues, AISJ’s overall work has evolved to advocate for social justice and racial reconciliation across the state of Alabama, working to remove barriers that limit and/or undermine the economic well-being of women and people of color, through leadership development and training, advocacy and public policy, and racial healing and reconciliation.
Some of our accomplishments include:
An appointment to the State Licensing Committee and serving as instrumental in the revision of the state minimum standards for child care.
Guiding the passage of a bill providing $800,000 to continue the funding of day care in Alabama; organizing the Congress for Human Services, a coalition of 76 human services programs in Alabama.
Organizing the Black Women’s Leadership and Economic Development Project; co-organizing the first statewide summit on unemployment; drafting the sliding fee scale for parents and lobbying for its acceptance.
Forming the Alabama Alliance for Child Care, which advocated for implementation of the Governor’s Legislative Task Force recommendations.
Co-founding the Alabama Organizing Project (AOP), a groundbreaking coalition of six grassroots organizations in Alabama, which designed and implemented a leadership training program to address critical quality-of-life issues with low-income and minority populations.
Securing $18 million in grants from the state to help 4,000 child care facilities meet the cost of new minimum standards.
Educating voters on Alabama’s proposed tax reform plan and contributing to its passage; conducting a public awareness campaign on child medications and negotiating an amendment for a child care medication law.
Halting the implementation of costly unfunded child care ratio changes; publishing Coming Undone: The State of Child Care in Alabama, which documents the unprecedented rise in the number of unlicensed child care facilities.
Organizing town hall meetings to develop a national family platform for working families; and serving as an advisor for Applied Research Center’s report Under Protected, Under Supported, which documents the risk of unlicensed child care in Alabama.
Publishing position papers on Child Care and Race: Why Race Matters and Child Care as an Economic Engine, as well as other articles printed in the Equal Voice News, Huffington Post, the Anniston Star, and AL.com.
Advocating before the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for the elimination of exempt status for child care programs, resulting in the issuance of regulations requiring inspection of unlicensed child care programs receiving subsidy reimbursements.
Being instrumental in developing the strategy for an SOS-sponsored (Save Ourselves Coalition for Justice and Democracy) petition campaign, demanding that the Governor of Alabama expand Medicaid; providing training for participants, collecting 7,000 signatures (17,000 total signatures collected), and organizing over 500 participants to rally on the steps of the Capitol.
Conducting 150 town hall and small group meetings across the state of Alabama, reaching more than 5,000 community residents, leaders, and elected officials; facilitating discussions on child care, the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid expansion, voting rights/voter ID requirements, retirement security, and other issues.
Surveying 123 child care center and family home providers across the state regarding the status of their businesses and the impact of new policies and regulations, compiling the data and relaying findings to the Director of the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR).
Providing leadership to and facilitating meetings of the Alabama Child Care Alliance with the Director of DHR, and launching a public awareness campaign around unlicensed/unregulated child care facilities, as well as promoting awareness of the importance of early care and education for 0-3 year olds.
Participating as a convener in the Governor’s Early Childhood Education Leadership Summit, and organizing the participation of 30 child care providers from various areas of the state.
Organizing a race conference, “Raising the Curtain on Race,” from which emanated several smaller group and community discussions around the state.
Advocating effectively for the retention of 28,000 children on the DHR child care subsidy roll.
Advocating for reinstitution of the DHR Child Care Citizen’s Coordinating Committee.
Leadership and Staff
Lenice C. Emanuel, MLA, Executive Director
Audrey Brown, Receptionist
Bonnie L. Taylor, Executive Support
Bill Kaser, Finance
Derrick Cobb, Technology Support
Board of Directors
Dr. Michael Sibley, President
Ron Abernethy, Treasurer
Roslyn Graham, Secretary
Darryl Woods, Member
Rita Wesley, Member
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Alabama Arise promotes and advances fairer public policies to improve the lives of Alabamians who are marginalized by poverty.
Alabama Forward is a civic engagement coordinating network that builds power and advances movement towards greater freedom and progressive, solution-oriented policy change.
The Black Belt Community Foundation works to support community efforts that contribute to the strength, innovation and success of the Black Belt region, as a philanthropist and connector.
The Children’s Funding Project equips leaders with the skills they need to maintain equitable, coordinated, and sustainable funding for programs and services for children and youth.
Community Change is a national organization that builds the power of low-income people, especially people of color, to fight for a society where everyone can thrive.
Conservation Alabama works to ensure that political decisions regarding critical conservation issues will result in laws that protect Alabama’s families and communities.
Delivering Good, located in New York City, periodically distributes clothing to local organizations whose constituents are low-income families.
Fair Count works to build long-term power in communities that have been historically undercounted in the census, underrepresented at the polls, and torn apart in redistricting.
LUSH Cosmetics advocates for people, animals, and the planet by driving positive, long-term and systemic change through ethically-sourced ingredients, grants, and product donations.
MLK Elementary School participates in AISJ’s The Judge Tiffany B. McCord “Just Like You” Empowerment Program to teach girls that they have the power to determine their own futures.
The Movement for Black Lives works to radically transform and realign our current, reactionary societal systems into proactive institutions that value and affirm the flourishing of Black lives.
The Raising Child Care Fund shifts private foundation dollars to grassroots organizations to build their power and to promote racial, gender, and economic equity in the child care system.
The Southern Black Girls and Women’s Consortium works to empower and channel resources to address the needs of Southern Black girls and women.
SEAP acts as a connector, convener, and policy entrepreneur to advance policies that improve economic security, health care access, and environmental justice for all Southerners.
SPLC is a catalyst for racial justice, working in partnership with communities to dismantle white supremacy, strengthen intersectional movements, and advance the human rights of all people.
T. S. Morris Elementary School participates in AISJ’s The Judge Tiffany B. McCord “Just Like You” Empowerment Program to teach girls that they have the power to determine their own future.
The Red Black & Green New Deal is an initiative designed to educate and catalyze Black people to take actions that mitigate the impact of the global climate crisis on Black Lives.
VoteRiders’ mission is to ensure that no eligible voter is prevented from casting a ballot due to voter ID laws, either directly from lack of acceptable ID, or indirectly because of voter confusion.
WKKF believes all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, and works to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work, and life.
Women’s Foundation of Alabama supports organizations that remove barriers for women and their families through education, job training, child care support, housing, and more.