Bob’s Blog: California’s Good Troublemakers

If you know me, you’ve heard me talk about the Good Troublemakers. Inspired by the quote from the late Congressman John Lewis, Good Troublemakers are the community organizers on the front lines of social change, fighting for those who have been historically overlooked, ignored, and left behind by white supremacist policies and systems.

In California, our Good Troublemakers are the community organizers, leaders, and groups who come together every day with a tenacious commitment to creating systemic change for a more equitable California. Achieving true health equity is only possible with community organizers building power from the ground up – which is where the social bond comes in.

The California Endowment is proud to have supported the work of grassroots organizers and community leaders for decades. And then in 2020, everything changed. Existing inequities were exposed and surfaced more prominently than ever before, and the need for human connection to change the way things were was at an all-time high. The California Endowment’s historic $300 million Social Bond investment to advance racial justice and health equity in California was born as a result of this moment in our collective history and our deeply rooted commitment to grassroots power building.

Over many years, our grantees have taught us that investing in communities and building change from the ground up only works when we trust the people, we’re investing in. We have made it a practice to listen closely and intently to community organizers and grantee partners across the state to inform our work. While their stories of successes, challenges, and lessons learned may be unique to their region or issue area, the throughline to change and equity is always people power. That’s why it was essential for us to start the story of the Social Bond with power building and the importance of investing in the architects of a healthy, just democracy.

In this video, we talk to six of our grantees who are deeply committed to racial justice and liberation to learn more about their experiences and insights on what making “good trouble” is all about. Each of the folks who shared their insights with us are remarkable community leaders, exemplifying the heart that goes into building power with those most directly impacted by injustice across California. They share how crucial it is to nurture the future generation of grassroots organizers and activists, build multiracial solidarity, and generate new organizing solutions and strategies that honor the diversity of Californians.

Nothing feels more moving to me than watching how our grantees embody love, hope, and perseverance whether through advocacy, organizing, leadership development, and narrative change work. These are the Good Troublemakers I have been fortunate enough to learn from over the years – now, with this video, we all can. Please join me in amplifying their stories and learn how you can be engaged in this movement.

If we want to see meaningful change, it starts with listening to the Good Troublemakers and giving them the tools and funding, they need to do the work. When we follow their lead, the possibilities are endless.

Bob Ross




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