The Leadership Center for the Common Good (LCCG) began operations in July 2010 and remained active until January 2014, at which time it merged with, and became part of, the Center for Popular Democracy. Aiming to help build a society founded on “the principles of justice, equality, respect and inclusion” for people of all demographic …
The Leadership Center for the Common Good (LCCG) began operations in July 2010 and remained active until January 2014, at which time it merged with, and became part of, the Center for Popular Democracy. Aiming to help build a society founded on “the principles of justice, equality, respect and inclusion” for people of all demographic backgrounds, LCCG strove to “ensure that everyone has access to the American Dream.” Toward that end, the organization relied on “collective action” designed to “amplif[y] the voices” and “buil[d] the power” of “low- and moderate-income communities, communities of color, and immigrant Americans.”
LCCG’s work encompassed five major campaigns:
1. Fix Wall Street and Reform America’s Financial System: Viewing government intervention as the mechanism most capable of overcoming what LCCG deemed the inherent deficiencies and inequities of the free market, the Center consistently pushed political leaders in Washington to do everything in their power to “repair the country’s broken financial system,” “establish integrity in the financial markets,” and “facilitate productive economic activity that benefits every community.”
Pledging to “hold Wall St. accountable for the economic crisis it created,” LCCG attributed the cataclysmic housing-market crash of 2008 primarily to the greed of banks and corporations that had used a purportedly unregulated business climate to exploit and fleece ordinary, unsuspecting Americans. Escaping any blame from LCCG were the government-mandated policies—most notably the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA)—that actually brought about the crisis by requiring lending institutions to eschew free-market principles and make myriad high-risk loans to undercapitalized minority borrowers. F
2. Help Low-Wage Workers Organize for Justice and Dignity in the Workplace: LCCG worked with various partner organizations and coalitions to help “low-wage workers,” many of whom hailed from “immigrant backgrounds” and “communities of color,” to combat allegedly widespread problems like “wage theft” and employer violations of worker’s-compensation and minimum-wage laws.
3. Demand Dramatic Action to Improve Public Schools: To raise the level of student achievement in “low-performing schools,” LCCG sought to “address a spectrum of educational inequities.” For one, the Center condemned what it viewed as the injustice of “school revenue mechanisms” whereby public schools situated in low-income urban areas purportedly received fewer tax dollars than their counterparts in affluent suburbs.
LCCG likewise derided “market-based” practices that “hurt children and learning,” such as “lax and unaccountable charter school laws and the proliferation of for-profit charters, voucher tax credits, [and] privatizing school services.”
4. Push for Paid Sick Days: As an organization supporting “the inherent dignity of every human being [as well as] investment in our collective future,” LCCG depicted paid sick days as “a key means of realizing these values.” Working with a coalition of national organizations as well as state and municipal campaigns, the Center in 2011 helped push Connecticut legislators to pass a law mandating paid sick leave for hundreds of thousands of service workers in that state.
5. Implement Comprehensive Health Care Reform: LCCG worked with groups like Heath Care for America Now to “expand access to, and affordability of, health care for all Americans.” The Center sought to achieve this outcome not by means of free-market reforms, but rather by expanding government control over healthcare.
Another major isssue of concern to LCCG was the participation of nonwhite minorities in the American political process. Alleging that “restrictive voting laws” such as voter ID requirements were creating a “rollback on American voting rights,” the Center charged that such statutes “have a disproportionately negative effect on people of color, youth, and seniors”—thereby further disempowering certain “groups that have historically been disenfranchised or marginalized at the ballot box.”[
Lamenting](http://www.commongoodcenter.org/do_you_think_the_poor_are_lazy) also the “wealth inequality” pervading American society, LCCG called it a “false” and “dangerous” assumption to “believe [that] the wealth of a few has absolutely no relationship to the deprivation of others.” “The wealthy,” said the Center, had somehow “managed,” by various maneuverings, “to make off with the lion’s share” of society’s wealth while “impoverishing certain populations” in the process. Such an unjust state of affairs, LCCG suggested, could lead to civil unrest if poor people were to see “less and less reason to follow the tacit agreements of civil society.”
To reduce economic inequality in the U.S., LCCG advocated wealth redistribution in the form of increased taxpayer funding for a host of government-administered, social-welfare programs for low-income faminlies—e.g., prenatal care, universal preschool, public education, recreational and after-school programs, and an ever-expanding “social safety net.”
Key funders of LCCG included such philanthropic entities as the Arca Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Foundation to Promote Open Society, the Marguerite Casey Foundation, the Needmor Fund, the Pittsburgh Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Stoneman family Foundation, the Surdna Foundation, and the Wallace Global Fund II.