After 25 years of publishing this newspaper, we’ve seen thousands of vendors find the support and community they need to find success. Real Change’s impact on our community has been profound and enduring.
Each month, your support offers nearly 300 people opportunity, a voice and the means to work together toward the change we need.
This year, Real Change is looking toward the next 25 years, starting now.
A three-year plan that outlines four priorities for our work launched last April. We know what makes Real Change the most successful street paper in North America, and it begins with relationships. We’re building our future on what makes Real Change special.
This spring and summer, more than 600 readers have contributed to our work through GiveBig and the Spring Fund Drive. Through your amazing generosity, we exceeded our $100,000 GiveBig goal, and now, just two months later, are just $13,925.41 from hitting that same target for our summer drive.
With just one week left in the fund drive, we’re counting on our supporters to close the gap. Over the next year, your gift will help vendors succeed by supporting Real Change in the following areas:
Building a caring, engaged community
Across the world, street papers face similar challenges: privatization of public space that limits opportunities for vendor success, the declining popularity of cash and increased reader distraction due to a digital culture that often means our vendors are less seen. Over the next year, Real Change will build stronger partnerships with the stores that support our vendors, seek new partnerships that increase vendor visibility.
Additionally, the biggest threat to future success is the reality that fewer and fewer people carry cash. Reader relationships are hard to build when most people don’t have the $2 on them that it takes to support a vendor. Increasing electronic sales through the Venmo app is a fast and simple solution that is easily accessible to almost everyone. As we move more and more toward electronic payment, Real Change is building the foundation for vendor-reader community, both now and in the future.
Lead with quality journalism
Real Change’s award-winning journalism is a core strength that we will continue to build upon. Our challenge here is to bridge the digital and print worlds to promote our unique, community-based journalism through new mediums while keeping our focus on supporting vendor voices and success. We’re excited to extend our reach through a new partnership with South Seattle low-frequency FM station KVRU and through Undercaste, the Real Change podcast that will help us reach new audiences with in-depth analysis and a new platform for vendor voices.
We are making our website more dynamic by adding capacity to break news and engage new readers, and building the online presence that will keep Real Change relevant in an increasingly digital world.
Finally, Real Change is only as strong as the broader street paper movement. We are building for success in North America by providing infrastructure for an International Network of Street Papers project that will bring new resources and technical assistance to both struggling and successful papers on this continent.
Focus on vendor success
Real Change is focused on supporting our vendors in many ways that go beyond earning an income. In the past year, we have launched the Emerald City Resource Guide, and our third edition of 50,000 copies will be released later this month. The Resource Guide will be distributed by more than 200 partner organizations. We are leveraging these partnerships to open doors to vendor success.
Through small steps, like partnerships to increase health care enrollment and our new Vendor Clothing Pantry, and big leaps, like hiring our first case manager, we are making Real Change a place where vendors can develop as leaders while accessing the survival resources they need.
Tend to the foundation
We are focused this year on increasing the tools and training that help our vendors impact policy. We are building a ladder of engagement that both meets vendors where they are and creates new opportunities for their voices to be heard.
We are also focused on the racial equity work that ensures Real Change will continue to confront the forces that create disproportional homelessness and poverty among people of color. We are looking at ways to hire and retain a diverse staff, support our community of color allies and increase vendor engagement in shaping policy.
The bottom line is that all of our work depends on readers like you.
More than 60 percent of our annual budget comes from grassroots financial supporters.
People who care for our vendors and step up to support our work during the annual fund drives.
Real Change has a bright future of increased opportunity, community engagement, and political impact, and your donation of any amount that works for you is crucial to our success. Please make your gift this week and help us meet our critical fund drive goal.
Need even more reason to give? When you donate $100 or more on July 9, you’ll be entered into a raffle to win a Treating People Like People Since 1994 T-shirt. There will be three drawings throughout the day. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to learn more!
Tim Harris is the Founding Director Real Change and has been active as a poor people’s organizer for more than two decades. Prior to moving to Seattle in 1994, Harris founded street newspaper Spare Change in Boston while working as Executive Director of Boston Jobs with Peace.
Read the full July 3 - 9 issue.
© 2019 Real Change. All rights reserved.| Real Change is a non-profit organization advocating for economic, social and racial justice. Since 1994 our award-winning weekly newspaper has provided an immediate employment opportunity for people who are homeless and low income. Learn more about Real Change and donate now to support independent, award-winning journalism.