Make the Road New York (MRNY)



Founded in 1997, Make the Road New York (MRNY) aims to “build the power of Latino and working-class communities in the New York City area to achieve dignity and justice through organizing, policy innovation, transformative education, and survival services.” Toward that end, MRNY “integrates multi-issue, multi-generational organizing – on workers’ rights, tenant rights, LGBTQ justice,

Founded in 1997, Make the Road New York (MRNY) aims to “buil[d] the power of Latino and working-class communities [in the New York City area] to achieve dignity and justice through organizing, policy innovation, transformative education, and survival services.” Toward that end, MRNY “integrates multi-issue, multi-generational organizing – on workers’ rights, tenant rights, LGBTQ justice, youth power and policing, public schools and education justice, immigration justice, and climate – with an array of wraparound services that create a space of safety and support for entire families.” MRNY’s efforts are designed chiefly to help nonwhites, immigrants, homosexuals, transgenders, women, and poor people – on the theory that members of those demographic groups are victims of widespread “abuse and exploitation” in the highly oppressive, bigoted atmosphere of modern America. The goal is to help these victims “collectiviz[e]” their “experiences and voices” in a way that empowers them to “change … entire systems.”

MRNY’s work is divided into several “impact areas**”:

  • Expanding Civil Rights: MRNY boasts that it has: (a) exposed thousands of high-school students to its “Safe Schools LGBTQ awareness and anti-bullying curriculum”; (b) fought “systematic LGBTQ discrimination” at major retailers; (c) led “community reconciliation and education initiatives” in the aftermath of “homophobic and anti-immigrant hate crimes”; (d) helped many “low-income and unemployed immigrant workers” access “public benefits and health care services”; (e) “prevented thousands of deportations and family separations each year” by successfully lobbying to change immigration laws; and (f) “worked with national allies to win Deferred Action,” a reference to President Barack Obama‘s 2012 executive order that not only prevented the deportation of nearly 3 million illegal aliens, but also made them eligible for legal residency and work permits. Advocating “a just and comprehensive reform of our nation’s immigration laws,” MRNY favors amnesty for illegals currently residing in the U.S., and open borders henceforth.
  • Promoting Health: MRNY has worked steadfastly to “secur[e] the right to translation and interpretation services” for immigrants at public benefits offices, hospitals, pharmacies, and government agencies in the New York area. In 2016 the organization helped more than 3,500 individuals enroll in health insurance plans, most of which were taxpayer-subsidized. That same year, MRNY “helped over 2,200 people, who never before imagined they were eligible, enroll in SNAP [food stamp] benefits.” MRNY’s approach is based on the principles of the so-called Cloward-Piven Strategy, by which the Left seeks to hasten the fall of capitalism by overloading government bureaucracies with a flood of impossible and unaffordable demands, thus pushing society into crisis and economic collapse.
  • Improving Housing: MRNY has worked to pass Safe Housing legislation designed to “fix hazardous conditions for thousands of tenants.” The organization also provides legal services to hundreds of New York-area tenants each year, helping them avoid eviction and win monetary damages against landlords.
  • Winning Workplace Justice: MRNY provides legal representation for “exploited workers,” as well as job-training-and-placement services for approximately 1,000 people annually. In addition, the organization has: (a) “led the campaign to win the landmark state-level Wage Theft Prevention Act, which quadruples penalties for wage theft”; (b) trained thousands of workers “to stand up for their rights, health, and safety on the job”; (c) fought to pass laws mandating the provision of “paid sick days, affordable health care, and living wages” for all workers; and (d) mobilized thousands of low-wage workers (in 2016) to help win a $15-per-hour minimum wage for New York-area employees.
  • Improving Public Education: This program aims to “relieve public school overcrowding, expand college opportunities, and support parents and students in claiming a bigger voice in their education.”
  • Empowering Youth: Complaining that nonwhites are disproportionately affected by a variety of unjust disciplinary policies and law-and-order measures, this program seeks to: (a) “limit harsh and biased school discipline” practices that result in suspension or expulsion; (b) “limit the role of police in schools” by putting “an end to summonses and arrests for non-criminal offenses” on campus; and (c) outlaw “broken windows policing” strategies that punish low-level offenses as a means of discouraging the commission of more serious crimes. In addition, MRNY offers “Know Your Rights Trainings” and “intensive political education trainings” designed to help youth “understand the root causes of inequality” and “how to mobilize to change social structures.”
  • Leadership Development: In an effort to cultivate new activists and social agitators, MRNY provides training to low-income New Yorkers in such areas as leadership skills, media advocacy, community and electoral organizing, and strategic policy advocacy.
  • Voter Power Project: This voter-registration, -education, and -mobilization program utilizes phone banking and door-to-door canvassing techniques “to increase civic participation.”
  • Adult Education: MRNY provides English, computer, and High School Equivalency classes to almost 1,700 adults each year.
  • Legal and Support Services: MRNY’s Department of Legal & Survival Services employs a large staff of attorneys and advocates specializing in employment, housing, public benefits, immigration, and civil rights. Their overriding objective is to “change unjust systems through impact litigation, policy design, and community organizing.”

MRNY received more than $20 million in taxpayer-funded government grants between 2002 and mid-2017, including $10,996,247 during 2012-14. Federal grantors included the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security, Labor, and Health & Human Services. Other government grantors included the New York State Departments of State and Education, and the New York City Department of Education.

MRNY has numerous significant ties to the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD):

  • MRNY founder and former president Andrew Friedman has served as co-executive director of CPD since 2012, and continues to sit on MRNY’s board of directors.
  • MRNY’s co-executive director Javier Valdes doubles as CPD’s board chair.
  • CPD’s co-executive director Ana Maria Archila once held that same title with MRNY.
  • MRNY gave more than $147,000 to CPD in 2013-14.
  • CPD gave almost $540,000 to MRNY in 2014-15, plus another $100,000 to the MRNY Action Fund in 2014.
  • MRNY “partnered” with CPD on a 2017 “Corporate Backers of Hate” campaign seeking to punish nine companies accused of unjustly profiting from the policies of President Donald Trump.

MRNY has been actively involved with several other anti-Trump campaigns as well: (a) It was behind the purportedly “spontaneous” protests – which in fact were planned long in advance – at New York’s JFK Airport following President Trump’s January 2017 executive order placing a moratorium on travel to the U.S. from seven majority-Muslim countries that were hotbeds of terrorism; (b) It participated in the #DeleteUber pressure campaign after Uber permitted pickups from JFK Airport during the aforementioned anti-Trump protests; (c) It was a part of the #GrabYourWallet campaign, which called for boycotts of retailers that sold Trump family products.

As of June 2017, MRNY had 19,000 dues-paying members.

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