Building Strong Families will take all of us!!!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

a message from our Executive Director, Eveline Shen...

As the end of the year approaches and the holiday season is upon us, like most people I think about family. I feel grateful for my family and I think about families who are faring poorly during these harsh economic times. I wonder how we as a movement can make real change for families all across the country to bring about the support and resources they need to thrive.

At ACRJ, families are what matter to us most – they are at the core of reproductive justice. And as our friend and ally, your involvement and dedication to our work is what allows us to build power in our communities locally and build a strong Reproductive Justice Movement nationally to strengthen families of all kinds. We are grateful to have you as part of our community, and ask for your support so that together we can keep up this important work and build upon our achievements with our bold and exciting new plans for the coming year.

In the past few years, through EMERJ, ACRJ’s movement building initiative, we have worked with over 200 grassroots groups across the country to develop leadership, build capacity, and change policies on the local, state and national levels that have resulted in advancing reproductive justice for our communities.

Building on this foundation, EMERJ is taking movement building to the next level by launching a long-term national policy initiative, Strong Families.

Strong Families is an ambitious 10-year campaign that will dramatically change the cultural and political fabric of our country to shift the way we think about and act to support families of all kinds. In times of economic hardship, many of us turn to our families, some of whom may be related by blood and some of whom we have chosen out of love and community. So it’s now more important than ever to ensure that our families remain strong so that each individual member can be supported.

Strong Families has only just begun, and we’ve already made significant gains in the past few months:

  • Policy change: Using Strong Families messages, EMERJ helped our allies in Montana to pass comprehensive sexuality education policy in the Helena school district. By framing sexuality education as a necessary component to building strong families, they were able to overcome homophobic attacks by both local opponents and national media, i.e. Fox News.
  • Culture shift: In an effort to pass legislation to limit the use of shackles on pregnant women in California prisons, EMERJ supported its partners in placing Op-eds in several media outlets using the Strong Families frame, shifting the perception of incarcerated women by emphasizing their role as mothers and the importance of providing all families with a healthy start. While the bill was ultimately vetoed, great strides were made in positioning similar bills to pass in the future.
  • Story collection: We are collecting 5,000 stories from all around the country about what strong families look like and what our families need, which will inform the Strong Families policy agenda. Our young women in the SAFIRE program have led the way, gathering stories from their parents and grandparents about their struggles, dreams and accomplishments and turning them into multi-media presentations. In addition to strengthening family relationships and learning more about their culture, our young women found that the act of storytelling itself is powerful and transformative. We invite you to tell your story too!

What does it take to build strong families? Among many things, your involvement and support. Your contribution to ACRJ will help drive our two core strategies in the Strong Families initiative:

First, we are using media and communications to change the very definition of who counts as a family so that families headed by single parents, LGBTQ families, extended families, immigrant families, young families and multi-racial families are served by public policy.

Second, we are supporting grassroots campaigns across the country to make concrete changes in local, state and national policy that benefit our families. We are creating a Strong Families policy agenda so that our allies working across issues and communities can fight for and win policies with a unified front to ensure that every family in this country stays strong.

Building the foundation for this exciting new phase of ACRJ’s work would not have been possible without your involvement. Join us in building Strong Families by giving an end-of-year gift to ACRJ today online at No matter how large or small, your generous contribution will have a significant impact on making the changes we’re striving for so that all families can thrive.

Now is the time for all of us to do what we can to keep our families stay strong. Thank you so much for your support!

In Solidarity,

Eveline Shen

Executive Director

p.s. – Building Strong Families will take all of us!  Please take a moment right now to send us your gift in the enclosed envelope or online at

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