President's Corner

Steady, Patient and Strategic Approach To Long-Term Change

February 26, 2020

Luz Vega-Marquis
By Luz Vega-Marquis
President and CEO

This month, Marguerite Casey Foundation honored the United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations (UCCRO) with the Patiño Moore Legacy Award for its leadership in fostering collaboration between Latinx and African American communities and building truly collective power.

The award reflects how UCCRO embodies the principles needed to build a movement of low-income families leading change. At Marguerite Casey Foundation, we believe in a model of movement building that nurtures conditions for low-income and working families and their allies to engage public policy and advocate and act for solutions to challenges in their communities. It is a steady, patient and strategic approach to long-term change.

UCCRO, like so many grantees supported by the Foundation, puts this model of movement building into action every day.

They know a movement for economic and racial justice doesn’t happen one organization or community at a time. Collective action is needed. The movement’s success depends on building bridges across all races and boundaries. UCCRO has been building those bridges between Black, Brown and other races, ethnicities and communities in Chicago for years.

It’s a cornerstone organization that drives systemic change and creates “the capacity of all of our communities to win together.” UCCRO helps racial and religious communities understand each other’s lived experiences, develop deeper understanding and trust and build stronger relationships and collective power in Chicago.

At UCCRO, members work together to develop intergenerational leadership and advance a multiracial policy agenda with unique methodologies that reflect lived experience. Their work is anchored and sustained by deep, long-term relationship building.

This approach has fueled UCCRO’s success with other principles of movement building, including: Policy wins that are achieved and sustained. Its organizing and campaigns have driven real change across Chicago. Since its founding in 2005, UCCRO’s work, in coalition with its partners, helped secure 11 policy wins for people of color in Illinois. These wins, such as greater accountability from the Chicago Police Department and new statewide rights for immigrant families in Illinois, cross racial and community lines.

The late Pastor Ron Taylor, founding member and executive director of UCCRO, was vital in this work, and this year’s Patiño Moore Legacy Award honors his legacy.

At a time when the nation appears more divided than any time in recent memory, we need more leaders like UCCRO and Pastor Taylor to bring us together. Join me in honoring their leadership and the work of all of our grantees, for building an inclusive movement of families and a more just and equitable society.

Steady, Patient and Strategic Approach To Long-Term Change