Many of our members cannot find life-sustaining work and are criminalized for mental illness and addiction, only making it harder for us to take care of ourselves and our people. Through critical reforms that will effectively take Massachusetts past the New Jim Crow into the 21st century, Jobs Not Jails is set on investing in schools and job creation to shift state policy toward prevention, treatment, and opportunity. We are proud members of the Jobs Not Jails Coalition.

Voter empowerment, for us, is not just about getting people out to vote— it is about engaging our electoral power to transform government into what it’s always promised: democracy. Each year, we knock on tens of thousands of doors to connect with our neighbors: we ask, “How are you— really?” Most of us are struggling. So we get registered, we learn about the candidates and the issues, and we get out to vote.

The Mt. Tom coal plant in Holyoke had been contaminating our air and water for over 50 years. In 2014, Neighbor to Neighbor members in Holyoke won their campaign to close the dirty plant and move toward a healthy, sustainable transition beyond coal. Now, with 40,000 tons of toxic coal ash and contamination having seeped into our water and farmlands from the smokestack, we continue our fight to ensure a thorough clean-up of the site and to bring renewable energy and sustainable jobs to Holyoke, one of the cities with the highest rates of unemployment in the state.

Lynn is the most underfunded school district in the state of Massachusetts. As a result, our students go to school each day in crumbling buildings with outdated books and too few teachers. As parents and concerned community members, we are demanding full investment in the future of our young people, and community schools to forge tight-knit neighborhoods where everyone is learning and no one falls through the cracks.

One of the most important economic policies that yields inequality— or can bring more equality— is tax policy. Here in Massachusetts, we are living under a regressive state income tax that hurts low-income, working- and and middle-class people. In the next two years, we will collect thousands of signatures with our allies in the Raise Up Massachusetts coalition and, through a ballot initiative, amend the Massachusetts constitution once and for all so that the state’s wealthiest residents pay 9% tax on every dollar they make over $500,000.