Liberty Hill Co-Hosts Selma Screening for Youth to Connect with Seniors

By Karen Driscoll


Liberty Hill joined with community partners in Los Angeles to watch the film Selma, which tells the  story of the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery march and the efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and many others to secure the right to vote. The event, titled #SELMAHANDINHAND was inter-generational, bringing together more than 400 young people from ten years up and seasoned seniors.  Together they viewed the film and then had an inspiring panel discussion sharing thoughts and ideas spanning over generations.  It was an opportunity for youth and youth organizers to gain a better understanding of the history of early chapters of their current struggles.

The film captivated the attention of the audience young and old by detailing the struggle and sacrifice of activists, Selma residents and a nation. Throughout the movie, folks laughed, cried, and cheered. The words of speeches inspired by Dr. King, who was played by David Oyelowo, resonated deeply and shed new light on King’s passion, resiliency, and faith in a better tomorrow.

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Young Organizer Series—Brandy Brown: “Am I Next?”

By Crystal Shaw


When Ezell Ford, an unarmed Black man was killed by LAPD officers in Los Angeles two days after Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri, it sent a clear message to many South L.A. residents, including one of his close personal friends, Brandy Brown.  The message: Black lives don’t matter.

Youth organizing, heavily backed by Liberty Hill, has proved to be a powerful vehicle of change for young people of color in their neighborhoods, schools and communities with the right support and motivated organizers. This generation’s lived experience is galvanizing their activism.

This couldn’t be truer for Brandy.  The 24-year-old has been a youth organizer for several years with the Youth Justice Coalition.  But the death of Ezell made her want to give it her everything.

“When Ezell got killed my daughter was one.  My daughter was walking around saying ‘hands up don’t shoot.’  What does she know about ‘don’t shoot?’  She’s one years old!  That’s not something she should have to worry about.  And that’s my job to protect her so she doesn’t have to worry about that.  That’s why I give it my all.”

Brandy has been participating in the OccupyLAPD movement through the Youth Justice Coalition, organized by Black Lives Matter: Los Angeles.   Organizers have been camped out in front of the Los Angeles Police Department’s headquarters since December 29, protesting the killings of Ford and Omar Abrego in August. The ongoing encampment is taking place in an effort for LA Police Chief Charlie Beck to meet two demands: they want the officers responsible for Ezell Ford’s death to be terminated; they’re also demanding murder charges be filed against the officers based on an autopsy released in late December. Beck met with representatives from the movement on January 12, however no demands were met.  OccupyLAPD continues.

Brandy has some strong opinions about the overall demonization of young people of color, which motivates her to continue to fight for change.

“I think, being a youth of color, we are challenged in the day and time we live in. . .  . At first you used to hear kids saying, ‘I’m scared of the gang bangers, I’m scared to walk in the streets,’  but now you hear kids saying they’re scared of the police.  And once you hear them saying ‘We’re scared of the police,’ we need to open up our eyes because the police are supposed to protect us, not hurt us.  My questions to the police are, ‘Am I next? Is my kid next? Is my nephew next?’ You never know who’s next and that kind of sucks that you have to live in a world like that.”

Brandy said the next action being planned by the Youth Justice Coalition is a “Coffin March” to show reverence to people who have lost their lives and to let people know that, according to Brandy, “We care and we’re here and we feel their pain.”  The action is tentatively scheduled to take place in March. Details are still being worked out and updates can be found on the Liberty Hill Facebook page as they’re made available.

Brandy Brown, first in a series of profiles: Young Organizers at liberty

  • When a chain of events point to a conclusion that Black lives simply don’t matter to some, it’s time to fight.    
  • When some schools and classrooms are focused on pushing youth through a system that should be preparing them for college, but instead is grooming them for a prison cell, it’s clear the time to fight is now. 
  • When there are systematic structures in place that are tearing families apart it’s clear that the time to fight is now.
  • When LGBTQ youth, who are abandoned by their families, are pushed into the juvenile system at alarming rates, the time to fight is now — and young people of color are rising to the challenge at every turn.

Some of the most noteworthy social justice activism is happening right now, and leading the movements in racial and gender discrimination and immigration are young people of color.  Liberty Hill’s social justice partners in youth leadership have declared Los Angeles as ground zero in the fight for equality and justice with OccupyLAPD, #BlackLivesMatter, the fight against youth and family deportation with the ‘Not One More’ movement and more.

Youth Justice Coalition, Community Coalition, Innercity Struggle, Immigrant Youth Coalition, Gay-Straight Alliance Network and the Khmer Girls in Action are just some of the organizations with an investment in youth leadership that have been making strides and are fighting on the frontlines in some of the most dire situations facing youth of color today. 


Frontlines to Headlines Dec.-Jan. 2014



97030-lsquareWith major changes coming to immigration policy in 2015, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights Los Angeles (CHIRLA) continues to make headlines as a leading organization on the issue. CHIRLA appeared in several publications as the President’s executive action was announced, including the Chronicle of Philanthropy. The organization’s public education event drew large numbers to the L.A. Convention Center, drawing coverage from outlets including KPCC and the L.A. Times. CHIRLA member Isobel Sandoval and her family were profiled in KPCC’s MultiAmerican blog.

As undocumented immigrants become eligible for driver’s licenses, the Pomona Economic Opportunity Center is helping them navigate the DMV and prepare for tests. The L.A. Times and the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin have the story.

Nationwide protests against police killings of unarmed African Americans continued through December, and demonstrators gathered in L.A. in response to the decision not to indict the officer who killed Eric Garner. Epoch Times has the story with a quote from Los Angeles Community Action Network member, Homid Khan.

As reported by LA School Report and the Los Angeles Daily News, the Labor/Community Strategy Center is calling for greater oversight of school police in the wake of revelations that LAUSD police possess heavy arms like grenade launchers and mine resistant vehicles.








Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE) and Strategic Concepts in Organizing & Policy Education (SCOPE) are among the organizations pushing for a boycott of the El Super supermarket chain, where workers are fighting for better conditions and calling attention to health code violations. The L.A. Times has the story.

Several Liberty Hill organizing partners, including the Black Workers Center, Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance (KIWA), Restaurant Opportunities Center Los Angeles (ROC-LA), and Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), demonstrated at City Hall before an Economic Development Committee hearing on wage theft. LA Weekly picked up the story. Footage of the event is also on Youtube.

A CBS Los Angeles TV news report on wage theft mentioned ROC-LA and interviewed two ROC-LA members who are wage theft victims.

ACCE and other groups presented the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development with the “Grinch of the Year Award” for contributing to foreclosures by auctioning off delinquent loans. Housing Wire has the story.

The City of Long Beach will consider an ordinance called the Multi-Housing Habitability Ordinance/Program (MHHP), which would help ensure greater access to affordable, safe housing for residents through new methods of code enforcement. A Signal Tribune article quoted Kerry Gallagher of Housing Long Beach and discussed the organization’s work on holding landlords accountable.

The L.A. Times quoted Larry Gross of the Coalition for Economic Survival in an article about City Council’s growing concern over short-term housing rental website, Airbnb. Gross spoke about how short-term rentals contribute to the housing shortage.

An L.A. Times article on Geoffrey Palmer, the real estate developer known for downtown apartment complexes, mentioned how SAJE worked to make sure one of Palmer’s projects included affordable units.

An Al Jazeera America piece on the transit justice movement mentioned the Bus Riders Union’s work preventing fare increases and supporting equal service in all neighborhoods.








T.R.U.S.T. South L.A. helped organize the recent CicLAvia event in South Los Angeles that closed streets to traffic while Angelenos biked from downtown L.A. to Leimert Park. Check StreetsBlog L.A. for background, and see another Streetsblog L.A. article for pictures and stories from the event.

National Immigrant Integration Conference Aims to Move Executive Order Forward


Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks during the National Immigrant Integration Conference


The recent announcement of President Obama’s executive action on immigration came just in time for the 7th Annual National Immigrant Integration Conference, co-sponsored by Liberty Hill, and co-hosed by Liberty Hill grantee Coalition of Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHILRA) and National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA)

The announcement was welcomed by groups working on immigration reform, but also drew calls for a more comprehensive solution.  In short, the order entails a series of administrative changes in rules and refocuses enforcement priorities and prosecutorial discretion.  The changes will allow about five million undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S.

The National Immigrant Integration Conference took place at the Los Angeles Convention Center earlier this month with a vision of achieving a vibrant, just and welcoming democracy for all. Organizers remind us all that the success of our democracy is rooted in an ongoing commitment to welcoming and integrating newcomers into the U.S.  The NIIC gave participants from all over the country an opportunity to exchange ideas, share best practices, establish partnership and celebrate the energy that drives the work.

According to Liberty Hill’s  Deputy Director of Grantmaking, Margarita Ramirez,  the program included a number of stimulating plenary sessions and more than 40 workshops around citizenship, the economy, education, media, arts and culture, migration, receiving communities, rights and freedom, and workforce development. The program was finalized before President Obama’s Executive Order but conference organizers were galvanized by the announcement to quickly pull together an additional 16 sessions focused on “Implementing Administrative Relief” that were added to the schedule.


People from at least 28 states across the country gathered here in L.A. and took the timely opportunity to work through implications of the executive action. Discussions included how efforts to implement the executive order can be coordinated through legal support, advanced technology, service delivery models, partnering with consulates, cities, and other institutions. There was information about regional coordination, and conversations about strategies for local and national fundraising. But more importantly, conference sessions also pointed to significant issues that intersect with immigrant integration – racism, homophobia, poverty and a dismal public discourse about basic human rights.

L.A. and Orange Counties have the highest density of likely applicants of any counties in the country (12% of the national totals) so the demand will be very high here.  According to Margarita, there is much to work through, but there appears to be a very deep infrastructure, unlike anything we’ve seen in the past. The National Partnership for New Americans , Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) and Center for Community Change (CCC), are at the helm of this infrastructure. It represents a tight-knit group of 30 multi-ethnic immigrant organizations, coalitions, organizing networks, and national support organizations in 28 states, with both local power and national reach. The leadership and vision of these entities are very sharp and its breadth of approach quite multi-layered.









To learn more about the National Immigrant Integration Conference, check out the website.


Frontlines to Headlines Nov.-Dec. 2014




As the nation responded to the ongoing killings by police of unarmed young men of color, protesters in L.A. took to the streets and community-based organizations issued statements of solidarity. ABC TV’s breaking news coverage of responses to the failure to indict began with Youth Justice Coalition’s demonstration in Leimert Park. An organizer with Labor Community Strategy Center was one of a gallery of young people of color pictured on and explained why they came out. NBC News mentioned the Korean Resource Center (KRC) in an article about Asian-Americans showing solidarity with Ferguson demonstrators. The article quotes a joint statement from KRC and other organizations. Liberty Hill’s blog carried a statement from the Brothers, Sons, Selves Coalition.



The announcement of President Obama’s executive action on immigration drew praise along with calls for a more comprehensive solution. The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), as a national leader in the immigration reform movement, was sought after for comment (L.A. Times, CNN, Washington Post), and the group’s role in meetings with the White House earlier this year was described (New York Times). Pilipino Workers Center, CHIRLA and KIWA members were interviewed by publications from various parts of the Southland including Orange County Register, EPG News and Pomona Economic Opportunity Center (PEOC)’s plans for a forum to help undocumented immigrants learn about the new plan was part of coverage in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin and the San Bernardino County Sun.




Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) made national headlines when the organization helped an Azusa family become the first in the country to buy back their foreclosed home. NBC, ABC, and CBS all covered the story, along with the L.A. Times and the Washington Post.

The PBS documentary series, America by the Numbers, aired an episode about young Cambodian-Americans in Long Beach. Part of the documentary follows members of Khmer Girls in Action as they discuss the role of organizing in their community. The Long Beach Press Telegram has more on the episode.

The Nation’s StudentNation blog featured an entry from Californians for Justice, about the organization’s work to pass Prop 47.

PEOC is creating a program specifically geared toward helping women find job opportunities. Check the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin for more.

EdSource ran a piece about community groups making a difference in the educational system. InnerCity Struggle and Community Coalition were both featured.


Politicians, community members, and activists are working to shut down a battery recycling plant in Vernon that has been leaking toxins into the surrounding neighborhood. NBC’s coverage featured a quote from Mark Lopez, Executive Director of East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice.

An urban oil drilling site in South Los Angeles is sickening neighbors with dangerous fumes, and using toxic chemicals feet away from homes. Liberty Hill Fund for Environmental Health and Safety grantees, Redeemer Community Partnership and Esperanza Community Housing helped mobilize community members to attend a hearing about the site at City Hall. Check the L.A. Times, My News L.A., Streetsblog L.A., and KPCC for coverage.


The Colorado Anti-Violence Program, a Queer Youth Fund grantee, hosted an event in observance of national Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to memorialize transgender victims of hate crimes. Denver Westworld has the story.


Brothers, Sons, Selves Retreat Life-Changing Experience for Young Men of Color

BSS Retreat_4Last month, 40 young men from the Brothers, Sons, Selves Coalition, a Liberty Hill campaign co-created in partnership with The California Endowment to improve the lives of young men, spent the weekend in Big Bear for a life-changing retreat.  The goals of the weekend were to grow the bonds between youth leaders, share BSS history and wins and settle on priorities for 2015. That was accomplished  and so much more!

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Liberty Hill Environmental Partners Fight Oil Drilling Plans in South LA



Kitchen window view of drilling site

By Joe Rihn

At Liberty Hill Foundation we understand that we all need clean air, and we all deserve safe neighborhoods, free from toxic chemicals.  But for some Angelenos who live in close proximity to urban oil wells, these necessities don’t exist.  Noxious fumes and continuous earsplitting noise are part of everyday life near drill sites, which are often placed in low-income communities of color.  With oil companies looking to increase production, more families are being placed at a greater risk.  That’s why we has established the new Fund for Environmental Health and Safety, which puts resources in the hands of organizations working to keep communities safe from drilling’s dangerous side effects.

Fund for Environmental Health and Safety grantees, Redeemer Community Partnership and Esperanza Community Housing, put those resources into action on a recent Tuesday afternoon at City Hall.   Liberty Hill organizing partners and other community members attended a public hearing about oil drilling in South L.A.’s West Adams neighborhood to take a stand for environmental justice.

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Commissions Training Program Graduates Celebrated

2014 grds

Graduates (Left to Right): Jennifer Samson, Gabriela Garcia, Julia Plascencia, Carlos Aguilar, Jacqueline Agnello, Carlos Aguilar, Everardo Alvizo, Johanna Arias-Bhatia, Max Podemski, Orinio Opinaldo, Miranda Rodriguez

By Breana Weaver

On November 13, in a celebration at the historic Tom Bradley Tower at Los Angeles City Hall, Liberty Hill’s Wally Marks Leadership Institute for Change proudly presented its first class of Commissions Training Program graduates to an audience of family, friends, Liberty Hill donor-activists, and city staff.

Eleven grassroots leaders, all affiliated with nonprofit organizations, completed the yearlong program designed to train community leaders to become advocates within local government structures. Through workshops, presentations and coaching, participants are trained to serve on or work with city, county and state boards and commissions. Commissions and boards, as described in our blog about the program launch, “oversee key city agencies and advise elected officials and government employees on core policies and programs that impact the quality of life for all of our local residents.”

During her opening remarks, Shane Murphy Goldsmith, Liberty Hill’s President and CEO, explained that the commissions and boards of Los Angeles need everyday Angelenos to participate. Our ultimate goal is to help community organizers work more effectively with commissioners by training more leaders with community based experience to serve.

Most importantly, the Commissions Training Program aims to ensure that all Los Angeles communities are represented by commissions and board members who understand and can advocate for those communities’ needs. This mission was celebrated at the graduation.

Maria Cabildo, the keynote speaker, spoke about her journey to becoming an L.A. City Planning Commissioner, in which role she plays a significant part in the work of one of the most complicated and powerful commissions in Los Angeles. She, like many of the graduates being recognized, grew up in a low income community in East Lost Angeles. At a young age, she saw the need for better housing in her community. After attending college on the East Coast, she returned to Los Angeles with a goal of promoting and advancing socially and economically just community development in East Los Angeles. Cabildo went on to cofound East LA Community Corporation (ELACC), an organization that has captured and invested more than $155 million in affordable housing and community development resources, and has organized the participation of hundreds of community residents in development decision making, community planning and anti-displacement efforts.

As a City Planning Commissioner, Cabildo told the audience, “You have the power to elevate issues that really matter and create [awareness] for policies.” She also had advice for the graduates about the realities of working as a commissioner: “Sometimes the work you do as a commissioner does not create immediate change, but it is actually planting a seed for future change that matters.”

“You take a seed and you take it to a blossom, and you take a blossom till it becomes a fruit. That’s what this commissions training is all about.”

During the graduation, three graduates spoke about the personal experiences that led them to the Commissions Training. Max Podemski, a Planning Director at Pacoima Beautiful, describe how growing up in Portland Oregon, a city renowned for its progressive urban planning, led him to study urban environment through policy. He is currently creating a vision plan for converting the Los Angeles River into a more resourceful location that offers multiple amenities. “You learn [that] serving on commissions can be intimidating,” he said about the training program, but “It is the training that gave me confidence to serve on a commission.”

It was due to the events of 9/11 that Jennifer Samson, who had studied philosophy, decided to pursue a career that she thought would make a difference in the lives of Angelenos. At that moment, she said, “I realized that I could either make the world better through my effort or worse through my apathy.” As a Real Estate Development Director at the Los Angeles River Revitalization Corporation, she learned through the Commissions Training Program that as a commissioner, you must identify what the community wants and align your own vision with those needs. The lessons in civic process are relevant to her work to enrich neighborhoods, build iconic landmarks, and develop a 51-mile greenway along the river.

Gabriela Garcia, the last graduate to speak, had been involved with community organizations in South Central and Boyle Heights as an organizer since 2001, advocating around green space, community health access, affordable housing, community and economic development. When she saw the need for stabilization in her own neighborhood north of USC, she became involved with Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE). The training made her aware of the steps she can take as a resident, a mother, and an organizer to bring the community perspective to the table, such as serve on a board in her neighborhood.

The program moved and inspired the audience and the room filled with joy as the graduates received certificates and posed for photos. In addition to the three speakers, the graduates recognized were: Jacqueline Agnello, Senior Center Administrator at the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity; Carlos Aguilar, Director of Organizing at the Coalition for Economic Survival; Victor A. Aquino-Limeta, member of T.R.U.S.T. Los Angeles;Everardo Alvizo, Development Chair at Latino Equality Alliance; Johanna Arias-Bhatia, Government Affairs Manager at the South Central Los Angeles Regional Center; Orino G. Opinaldo, member of Strategic Actions for a Just Economy; Julia Plascencia, former Civic Engagement Coordinator at California Calls; and Miranda Rodriguez, Community and Events Coordinator at L.A. River Revitalization Corporation.

Head over to the Wally Marks Leadership Institute Commissions Training Program webpage for more information.


Give to Liberty Hill via AmazonSmile

By Crystal Shaw

smile_fb_logoAt Liberty Hill we understand that life is busy.  Time is valuable and in this day and age, people are constantly trying to figure out how to do more with less, and how to do several things at once.  Now you can shop and donate to grassroots organizing at the same time. This could be a breakthrough strategy for the holidays and beyond.

By registering with AmazonSmile and  shopping at you can donate a percentage of every online purchase you make to Liberty Hill Foundation.

AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon with the same wide selection of products and shopping features as on In order to browse or shop at AmazonSmile and make donations, customers must first select Liberty Hill Foundation as their charitable organization of choice. Then, for eligible purchases, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the price to Liberty Hill!

It’s that easy.  Simply by shopping, you will be supporting awesome social justice right here in L.A. with the click of a button.  During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, and in the months to follow, you’ll have one more way that you’re giving to Liberty Hill. Thank you!


Giving Tuesday Tip #12: Giving Tuesday!!

LHF-GT-Logo-Square-Hashtag-White-on-GreenIt’s Game Day … #GivingTuesday and Liberty Hill couldn’t be more excited!  Today’s tip is to repeat Tips 1-11 and GIVE.  If you missed a step in our 12 days of #GivingTuesday Tips series encouraging giving, today’s a great day to go back and follow it!  Here’s all the tips in order from 1-11.  Happy Giving!


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