Our Story

Why Bay Rising?

“[We’re up against] this wave of technology and development and corporate interests taking over all of the Bay Area…  The displacement and homelessness crisis is at emergency levels.” – Jessamyn Sabbag, Executive Director, Oakland Rising

Because of rapidly growing corporate interests and profits in the region, people living in the Bay Area suffer from some of the highest levels of income inequality in the country. It is impossible to address displacement, environmental justice, or any other issue in one city without understanding the political context across the region. The growth of low-wage jobs and the threat of losing union protections, combined with skyrocketing rents and living expenses, puts hundreds of thousands of working people at risk, especially people of color, immigrants and young people. These shifts threaten to destroy the Bay Area’s progressive strongholds, particularly in communities of color.

Under the current administration, we cannot rely on the federal government to protect our communities, and must fight for strong local measures that are coordinated across the Bay Area region. In this way, Bay Rising offers a powerful model of regional power-building to win lasting policy changes, rooted in the communities that are most affected by inequality and rampant corporatization.

What Bay Rising Does

“When we were first dreaming about Bay Rising, we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be amazing if there was a regional formation of grassroots organizations representing the most impacted communities in the Bay, who did kick-ass base-building, who did kick-ass civic engagement work, and they could be connected and coordinated to have regional political impact.’” – NTanya Lee, founding member of SF Rising

Bay Rising provides a space for leaders rooted in our communities to develop a shared regional analysis and strategy for healthy, vibrant neighborhoods for all. We create regional voter guides, integrate arts and cultural strategy into our organizing, and conduct voter engagement experiments. Bay Rising also trains staff and leaders at member-based organizations around the Bay Area to run electoral campaigns, build relationships across the region to support each other, develop and integrate communications strategy through a cohort-based fellowship, and manage sustainable organizations.

What the Risings Have Won

In 2016, the three networks that make up Bay Rising ran the largest field campaigns in each of their cities—Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose—reaching 187,000 voters. The Risings have been critical to winning the following victories:

Work with Dignity

  • Overwhelmingly passed Proposition J in 2014, which raised San Francisco’s minimum wage to $15/hour, making it only the second city in the country to do so
  • Raised the minimum wage and required paid sick days in Oakland by passing Measure FF in 2014 with 82% of the vote; also raised the minimum wage in San Jose and helped 13 cities across Silicon Valley commit to a minimum wage increase of $15/hour by 2019, lifting the region-wide standard for a living wage
  • Won part-time worker protections in San Jose, the first policy of its kind in the country, through the Opportunity to Work campaign

The Right to Stay in Our Homes

  • Won Measure JJ in Oakland in 2016 with nearly two-thirds of the vote; this measure strengthens just cause protections against eviction and increases the accountability of Oakland’s Rent Board
  • Won San Jose’s just cause requirement for evictions in partnership with the Silicon Valley Renters’ Rights Coalition
  • In 2017, the A’s Stay the Right Way campaign halted the Oakland A’s stadium relocation to Laney College—a move which would have displaced students, immigrants, and working-class residents of color—and pressured the A’s to invest in community stability in East Oakland
  • Defeated San Francisco’s Propositions P & U in 2016, which would have made it harder to build affordable housing and taken housing away from the lowest income households
  • Won Santa Clara County’s Measure A in 2016, which raised $950 million for affordable housing
  • Won 50% more housing units at the Valley Transportation Authority’s Tamien station development project in San Jose in 2018

Expanding Sanctuary from Criminalization and Opportunity for Formerly Incarcerated People

  • In Alameda County, won 1400 jobs for people who have been released from prison thanks to the Proposition 47 victory and a local policy victory
  • In 2015, in collaboration with California Calls, helped win California’s Proposition 47 (2015) and Proposition 57 (2016)

Justice for Young People and Families through Progressive Tax Policy

  • Won San Francisco’s Proposition W in 2016—a progressive tax measure, the “SF Mansion Tax,” that resulted in free tuition for City College of San Francisco students
  • In collaboration with California Calls, helped win California’s Proposition 30 (2012) and Proposition 55 (2016)

As we build the power of communities of color in the region, we also support groups in surrounding counties to build their own voter organizing (integrated voter engagement) capacity and alliances.

Looking Forward

“The things that we fight for day to day are bread-and-butter issues. But, we’re also looking at the bigger picture of what kind of world do we want to live in; what does it mean to go from organizer to decision-maker on a larger scale; what does it mean to stay in relationship to one another. Those are all critical lessons that I think the country could really benefit from right now.” – Alicia Garza, founding member of SF Rising, Black Lives Matter

Our long-term plans for building community control and political power of Bay Area communities of color include:

  • continuing to build Bay Rising as a messaging, training, and resource hub for grassroots media and communications experts-in-the-making
  • expanding our training programs to create a regional cohort for campaign management and leadership development
  • advancing progressive taxation so that our communities have the resources we need to bring everyone along in decision-making
  • experimenting with campaign finance policies that demonstrate ways for elections to be avenues for true democracy rather than money-makers for corporate media
  • creating alternative structures to practice meaningful, participatory community governance
  • supporting our elected leaders to move from localized resistance rhetoric and noncompliance with reactionary federal policies to bold, creative, active protection of community safety and democracy
  • And reforming municipal- and regional-level governance for people to have more direct say in and control over the issues that affect our daily lives, including through continued voter engagement experiments