BREAD’s Mission and How We Win Justice

BREAD (Building Responsibility, Equality, and Dignity) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit and non-partisan organization. We were founded in 1996 and are currently made up of 44 member congregations representing the religious, racial, socio-economic, and geographic diversity of Columbus and Franklin County.

Our mission is to powerfully address serious community problems by holding public officials accountable to implementing proven solutions. While non-profit work is often associated with direct service (providing immediate and often temporary relief to victims of community problems), BREAD operates differently by engaging in direct action. By building the power of organized people in our community, we work to hold decision makers accountable to solve the community problems that create victims in the first place.

We win justice by engaging in relational community organizing. We believe that to solve community problems, you first need to know the community and its concerns. More than that, BREAD strives to be the community by reflecting the religious, racial, socio-economic, and geographic diversity of Columbus and Franklin County in our membership and leadership. We organize around the principle that those who are impacted by community problems should have a say in the solutions that our city and county pursue, and so BREAD builds the power of organized people to amplify these voices and give them a platform to engage directly with officials. Together, BREAD…Rises!

 At BREAD we know that the work of justice never stops. That’s why we structure our year around three “seasons”: The Listening Process, Research to Action, and Investment Drive.

The Listening Process takes place in the fall and is where our relational organizing begins. Leaders throughout our member congregations host intimate gatherings where participants are asked what problems they experienced or have weighed on their heart this past year. Thousands of stories are shared and collected to identify the biggest problems facing our community. Hundreds of BREAD members then gather at our Annual Assembly, where they vote to determine which of these problems we will take on. Throughout the Listening Process and in every aspect of our work, BREAD follows a democratic process to ensure we are driven and owned by our members.

The Research to Action season then begins. During the winter and spring our members join Action (Research) Committees (hyperlink to portion in governing structure) to learn more about the problem and how best to address it locally. Our committees conduct dozens of research meetings to understand the scope and nature of the problem, what solutions have been proven to work in other communities, and to identify which local officials are the key decision makers for implementing this solution. Our Action Committees announce their proposed solutions at an organization-wide Rally in the spring to prepare our members for the Nehemiah Action. At our Nehemiah Action we invite those key decision makers to stand before thousands of their constituents and make clear, measurable commitments to implementing the proven solutions we have identified. From there we follow-up, ensuring that promises made are promises kept.

The Investment Drive season is where we take a pause from research to ensure the long-term viability of our work for justice. Over the summer each Network Member is invited to invest $200 or more in the work of BREAD, and BREAD members meet with local business leaders to provide updates on our work and invite them to invest in making Columbus and Franklin County a better place to live and work. BREAD does not accept any federal, state, or city money to ensure our independence and our accountability to our members. We strive to be fully funded and fully owned by our members and the community.