MCAN belives in a grassroots organizing model rooted in a critical racial and power analysis. We organize from a leadership base of those who are closest to the issues we work on – leaders of color, immigrant leaders, working class leaders, and leaders who have been incarcerated or have family members who are incarcerated.

We create change through training & building up our volunteers’ leadership skill, relationship building among people across differences, intentional meetings with elected officials, and movement-building through public actions.

MCAN organizations are run by the volunteers leaders from member congregations or community institutions. The volunteers decide on organizational priorities through surfacing shared community priorities in one-to-one and small group conversations. Volunteers then develop and implement organizational strategies for action. The MCAN staff’s role is to act as consultant, trainer and coach in the art of systemic change work to the volunteer community leaders.


Our Theory of Change Includes:

1) Leadership Development of Community Members

MCAN provides intensive leadership training that teaches people how to use the tools of democracy to improve their communities. As a result MCAN affiliates are led by ordinary people who have learned to successfully use the levers of power to bring resources and political attention to their communities.

Through grassroots community organizing, MCAN organizations trains thousands of volunteer leaders to:

  • — Have substantive conversations with their neighbors and members of their community to prioritize problems;
  • — Conduct research on the causes of and potential solutions to those problems;
  • — Negotiate solutions with public officials; and
  • — Establish long-term accountability with elected officials.

2) Intentional Relationship Building to Create Common Ground

In this era of shrinking institutions and hyper-partisan politics, people from the same community but different faith, race, or class backgrounds often never interact. MCAN organizations develop “social capital” by having members of the community build intentional relationships with people who are different from them. We bring a diverse set of people together based on faith and values – not just issues or anger.

MCAN organizations are made up of a diverse set of community institutions; religious congregations, schools, community centers, and youth organizations which are often the only stable civic gathering places in many neighborhoods.

Through the intentional relationship building process across community institutions, MCAN organizations are able to engage thousands of people and sustain long-term campaigns to bring about systematic change at all levels of government.

3) Public Community Action: Engaging Officials and Shaping Public Opinion

MCAN believes that positive social change occurs when communities come together across lines of race, faith, and class to build power and engage elected officials and decisions makers on key social justice issues facing the community.

In addition to meeting with elected officials, one of our foundational principles of organizing is the importance of putting decision making power back into the people’s hands. MCAN works to change the public narrative and public opinion around issues of race and economic conditions. We believe in the power of stories, and highlight the stories of pain and hope of our leaders. We also believe narrative shifts happen through public demonstrations that unveil the moral crises behind the injustices of racism and inequality.

MCAN organizations engage in public action through mass community meetings, marches, prayer vigils, press conferences, signature gathering, voter mobilization, and other creative action ideas generated by our leaders.