New York City may be America’s progressive capital, but social and economic inequality are still present in the Five Boroughs. Of the 8.5 million New Yorker’s who reside here, one in five live in poverty,1 school segregation still permeates every level of the education system,2 and archaic voting laws have inhibited members of our community from being heard at the ballot box.3
Luckily, there are local social justice organizations that provide a platform for New Yorker’s to make a positive impact in their community. We have compiled a list of nine highly reputable social justice organizations that fight for civil rights and provide support for marginalized communities right here at home.
Social Justice Organizations for Civil Rights
National Alliance on Mental Illness
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a national movement striving to lessen the stigma of mental illness and improve the quality of life of those with the disease. Their New York City branch offers free classes, support groups, parent matching, and free community events.
For support, please visit NAMI’s resources page or call their helpline at 212-684-3264.
New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU)
The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) fights for civil liberties and civil rights through a multi-layered program of litigation, advocacy, public education, and community organizing to create a more open, just, and equitable society.
The Innocence Project
The Innocence Project works to free the staggering number of innocent people who remain incarcerated and prevent future injustices. While the organization is present at the national level, they are in need of New York volunteers.
Correctional Association of New York (CANY)
The Correctional Association of New York (CANY) fights tirelessly for a more humane and effective criminal justice system, but they can't do it alone. Whether you've been incarcerated, know someone who has, or if you would simply like to help, CANY needs your support.
Social Justice Organizations for Marginalized Populations
OutRight Action International
Outright Action International advances human rights and opportunities for LGBTQIA+ people around the world. They provide critical partnerships at global, regional, and national levels that help build capacity, document violations, advocate for inclusion and equality, and protect the rights of all LGBTQIA+ people.
Open Society Foundations aids in the development of vibrant and tolerant democracies. The organization is active in New York City and across the country. They are a proponent for social justice advocacy and give young activists access to the tools they need to create a brighter future for our global community.
Amnesty International inspires communities to get involved in creating positive change through this grassroots organization. In 2014, they were part of the movement that advocated for stop-and-frisk reform in New York City and helped influence Mayor Bill de Blasio decision to drop the appeal on the Floyd stop-and-frisk lawsuit. Volunteers may donate their time and effort to amplify important, grassroots causes and hold their leaders accountable.
Social Justice Organizations for Professional Development
New Leaders Council
New Leaders Council is an organization focused on training the new era of leaders on topics such as economy, social justice, and the democratic system. Millennial leaders strive to challenge current policies and break barriers.
Type Media Center
Type Media Center is a non-profit media organization that fosters journalistic development. The organization also publishes its own non-fiction books, hosts an investigative journalism website, and supports reporters with fellowship programs around social justice and civil rights.
Social justice organizations can provide an outlet for those individuals looking to make a difference in their community in helping make it better for all. Joining one of these NYC groups is a good way to make an impact on the place in which you live. Consider volunteer opportunities with one or more of these groups and lead the charge for social justice in NYC.
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