25 Years of Eastside Movement Building
In 1994, a small group of parents, youth, and residents in Boyle Heights joined together to find solutions to a crisis in their community. Neighborhood violence and crime were at an all time high. Across the state, reactionary forces blamed immigrants and youth for the rise in drugs and gangs. At the same time, funds to public schools were severed and new state laws criminalizing immigrants and young people were passed.
The future success of Eastside families was being undermined. But we refused to stand by.
Our founders decided to form an organization in the spirit of the civil rights movement. One that would seek to organize everyday residents in service of their own vision for a stronger Eastside.
We sought alternative solutions to reducing crime and violence that wouldn’t involve criminalizing our communities. Instead, we invested in developing grassroots leadership that could serve as a progressive and powerful voice for the Eastside.
Deeply concerned with the role public education played as a pipeline to prison and poverty, our parents, youth, and residents began organizing in schools. Our first campaigns successfully challenged Los Angeles Unified School District’s overcrowding and push-out crisis. In 2004, the efforts resulted in success with the school district’s approval of three new Eastside high schools, a new elementary school, and a new adult school – the first new schools approved for construction in over 85 years.
We’ve since become a multi-issue organization to build stronger schools, grow our civic engagement, and prevent housing displacement for a stronger and more powerful Eastside.