Education

Education Mission Statement

Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC) is a grassroots organization run by and for returning citizens – people with completed felony sentences returning to their communities – in partnership with allies from across the political spectrum and from every part of civic life. FRRC is dedicated to ending the disenfranchisement of and discrimination against people with convictions, and is working to build a movement of energized returning citizens, their family members, and everyone with a stake in a restoring returning citizens’ ability to vote. We believe in empowering the people closest to our justice system to take ownership of community organizing – actively engaging in peer-to-peer and public education around the restoration of voting and civil rights, criminal justice reform and reentry issues.

THE ISSUE

Florida’s system for restoring a person’s ability to vote is broken. People with felony convictions are default barred from voting for life, leaving more than a million and a half Floridians disenfranchised.

Current law is a long and difficult process that requires the direct personal involvement of the Governor and the Cabinet in restoring an individual’s ability to vote, even after they have served their time and paid their debts.

We’re one of only four states that still has a system that excludes so many people. It’s time to modernize it so it stops PERMANENTLY excluding citizens from our democracy.

FRRC ADVOCACY

Felon disenfranchisement and voting restoration in Florida

✔Stymied by an unresponsive legislature and Governor, in 2014, FRRC began conducting a comprehensive quantitative and qualitative research program with industry experts to draft a ballot measure that, if successful, would return the vote to nearly 1.5 million Floridians.

✔We initiated an unprecedented grassroots effort, led by Desmond Meade, President of FRRC and himself a returning citizen. We quickly drew support from numerous grassroots groups and Floridians of all walks of life, to collect more than 70,000 signatures, the 10% required to submit the proposed measure for Florida Supreme Court review.

✔Impressively, this was an all-volunteer signature gathering effort – the first time a citizen’s initiative has triggered FL Supreme Court review in this manner.

✔On April 20, 2017, the Florida Supreme Court unanimously approved the language. Notably, neither the governor nor attorney general weighed in with the Supreme Court in opposition (nor did anyone else) – clearly, the legal and moral case for restoring voting rights is essentially airtight.

✔Now we must accelerate our persuasion and organizing efforts.

✔In July, the FRRC organized 2017 State Convening drew in over 400 volunteers, from Pensacola to Key West, and allies from across country including Advancement Project, FCBCP, PICO Live Free, SWAG, Alliance for Safety and Justice.

✔The convening was the next step in FRRC’s ongoing efforts to develop and strengthen key groups of activists throughout the state of Florida, providing our supporters with the most up-to-date guidance on how to message around this issue, and best practice how to organize for it.

✔We intend to run a robust public education program, matching a comprehensive organizing campaign with traditional and digital communications tools, and fortified in our collaborative work with allies. FRRC will create greater public consciousness of these issues and catalyze unsurpassed volunteer civic engagement for this issues in 2018 and beyond.

✔FRRC is currently seeking out funding opportunities to resource its Civic Engagement endeavors: The Second Chances Public Education Campaign & Distributed Organizing Volunteer Engagement Project (January through June 2018), the GOTV Campaign (July-November 2018) and the Voter Registration Campaign (to launch January 2019), onboarding an entirely new voting constituency into civic participation for 2020 and beyond. Membership Recruitment We are launching a membership program in Q4 of 2017; with the goal of having returning citizen members in each of Florida’s 67 counties by the end of the year. These returning citizens will serve as a beach-head for our organizing, eventually in every community in the state. FRRC Speakers Bureau We have successfully trained 20 returning citizens to communicate a story in a powerful way. These returning citizens represent the FRRC at local speaking events and through interviews with the media. We anticipate scaling up this resource going forward, at least by several multiples, perhaps by a factor of 10. FRRC Story Bank Project This will increase awareness of the plights and triumphs of returning citizens, creating a space to share their personal testimonies around the fight for civil rights and liberties in Florida. We are constantly gathering additional stories and looking for opportunities to put them to use. Town Halls The FRRC Statewide Town Hall Tour began in September 2017 and will cover 15 cities over the next 4-6 months. Our first 4 Town Halls engaged over 400 people, giving voice to several dozen directly impacted individuals and families. Future Town Halls Our future town halls will be designed to build on that success – educating the public on the impact of the criminal justice system on certain communities, with a special emphasis on the society-wide costs of the disenfranchisement of former felons. Regional Chapters The purpose of Regional Chapters is to grow local capacity. The Regional Chapter program focuses on four key components: 1) Safe Environments; 2) Community Service; 3) Issue Competency; and 4) Civic Engagement. Our chapters meet regularly in their community and engage local advocacy around issues involving felon disenfranchisement and criminal justice reform.

✔ We have established chapters in St. Augustine, Orlando, Tampa, Gainesville, Ft. Myers, Sarasota, Key West, Fort Lauderdale, St. Petersburg.

✔ In the next few months, we will add chapters in Naples, Jacksonville, Lakeland, Bradford, and the Treasure Coast, with even more planned in the future. Direct Services Additionally, we help returning citizens navigate the barriers to successful reentry. The FRRC Training & Reentry Coordinator is the only ex-offender employment Specialist in Florida certified by the US Department of Labor, Federal Bureau of Prisons, and Human and Health Services.

✔ 2017 Second Chance Workshops offering direct services including but not limited to Sealing/Expungement, Restoration of Rights, Employment Assistance, and Occupational Licenses. While this positions us as a trusted institution in many communities and has value as an organizing tool, we believe this task is important in its own right. Leadership Development

✔ In addition to broad organizing, we are taking a deeper dive with some returning citizens. Our women’s outreach program has successfully engaged over 50 women to organize local meetings and learn skill sets that can lead to better relationships and job opportunities and/or increased salaries as well as promote civic engagement.

✔ We anticipate building a parallel men’s outreach program in 2018, mirroring the successful model that has been implemented in the women’s outreach project. FRCC

FRCC POWER BUILDING: ORGANIZING & DEVELOPING THE BASE

Key accomplishments and key tactics for going forward

Membership Recruitment

We are launching a membership program in Q4 of 2017; with the goal of having returning citizen members in each of Florida’s 67 counties by the end of the year. These returning citizens will serve as a beach-head for our organizing, eventually in every community in the state.

Regional Chapters

The purpose of Regional Chapters is to grow local capacity. The Regional Chapter program focuses on four key components: 1) Safe Environments; 2) Community Service; 3) Issue Competency; and 4) Civic Engagement. Our chapters meet regularly in their community and engage local advocacy around issues involving felon disenfranchisement and criminal justice reform.

✔ We have established chapters in St. Augustine, Orlando, Tampa, Gainesville, Ft. Myers, Sarasota, Key West, Fort Lauderdale, St. Petersburg.

✔ In the next few months, we will add chapters in Naples, Jacksonville, Lakeland, Bradford, and the Treasure C

Direct Services

Additionally, we help returning citizens navigate the barriers to successful reentry. The FRRC Training & Reentry Coordinator is the only ex-offender employment Specialist in Florida certified by the US Department of Labor, Federal Bureau of Prisons, and Human and Health Services.

✔ 2017 Second Chance Workshops offering direct services including but not limited to Sealing/Expungement, Restoration of Rights, Employment Assistance, and Occupational Licenses. While this positions us as a trusted institution in many communities and has value as an organizing tool, we believe this task is important in its own right.

Leadership Development

✔ In addition to broad organizing, we are taking a deeper dive with some returning citizens. Our women’s outreach program has successfully engaged over 50 women to organize local meetings and learn skill sets that can lead to better relationships and job opportunities and/or increased salaries as well as promote civic engagement.

✔ We anticipate building a parallel men’s outreach program in 2018, mirroring the successful model that has been implemented in the women’s outreach project.

FRRC Speakers Bureau

We have successfully trained 20 returning citizens to communicate a story in a powerful way. These returning citizens represent the FRRC at local speaking events and through interviews with the media. We anticipate scaling up this resource going forward, at least by several multiples, perhaps by a factor of 10.

FRRC Story Bank Project

This will increase awareness of the plights and triumphs of returning citizens, creating a space to share their personal testimonies around the fight for civil rights and liberties in Florida. We are constantly gathering additional stories and looking for opportunities to put them to use.

Town Halls

The FRRC Statewide Town Hall Tour began in September 2017 and will cover 15 cities over the next 4-6 months. Our first 4 Town Halls engaged over 400 people, giving voice to several dozen directly impacted individuals and families.

Future Town Halls

Our future town halls will be designed to build on that success – educating the public on the impact of the criminal justice system on certain communities, with a special emphasis on the society-wide costs of the disenfranchisement of former felons.

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