The Washington Bureau: Our Mission
For more than 50 years, the National Urban League has had a formal presence in the Nation's Capital. The “Washington Office” as it was first known, was charged with building a direct relationship with the federal government and ensuring that the Urban League plays an active role to educate lawmakers and other stakeholders on the challenges and opportunities facing urban America.
The Washington Bureau, as it is now known, is focused on research and advocacy efforts that are grounded by the direct service and program experience of over 90 affiliates throughout the U.S., and the more than 2 million people they serve every year. Informed by this real-work perspective, The Washington Bureau is uniquely qualified to lead the discussion on public policies that impact the ability of communities to grow and thrive, and remains the leading civil rights organization pushing for more resources and policies that help empower urban communities and advance economic and social equality.
The Washington Bureau develops insightful policy/research reports on the economic state of urban America and other underserved communities. Our recent publications have explored the impact of health disparities in the black community in The State of Urban Health; the impact and importance of the black vote in The Hidden Swing Voters; and looked at the challenges facing black families in the wake of the financial downturn in the country in The State of the Black Middle Class.
The Washington Bureau also offers thoughtful policy recommendations that support our Empowerment Goals in publications such as our 8-Point Plan: Educate, Employ and Empower, and Teachers Matter.
With voting rights and affirmative action under assault, the Washington Bureau has become the hub of the Urban League’s civic engagement activities. Prompted by an aggressive and concerted effort to target and undermine the voting in poor and minority communities, the Urban League launched Project Advocate and the Occupy the Vote campaign, which works in key affiliate areas to educate citizens on their rights and register them to vote.
Leading the Conversation to Find Solutions for Economic Empowerment
In the ongoing conversation over how America can return to its heyday of economic vitality and in the face of a diminishing federal role in promoting and creating economic opportunity, it is clear that any meaningful and sustainable solution to the chronic, structural barriers to the health of urban economies must include input from private enterprise.
In January 2013, the Washington Bureau created the Urban Solutions Advisory Council to develop policy platforms that are grounded in business practicalities and surface solutions that can help create sustainable economic opportunities. Comprising corporate representatives from a variety of industries, the Urban Solutions Advisory Council meets regularly to explore forward-thinking ideas to help drive development in urban America and invites dynamic and inspired thinkers from academia, policy, media, CBOs, and the corporate arena to meet for thought-provoking panel discussions.
Preparing the Movement to Engage on Key Issues
As state and local governments assert a more direct role in public policies around such critical issues as workforce development, healthcare and education, the need for on-the-ground community-based organizations to advocate on behalf of their constituents has become more urgent.
The Washington Bureau created Affiliate Policy Task Forces to equip affiliate Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) with the tools and knowledge to champion the policies that directly impact their ability to serve their communities.
There is an Affiliate Policy Task Force for each of the issues embodied in the Urban League’s Empowerment Goals: Education, Jobs, Housing and Healthcare. Each Task Force is headed by two affiliate CEOs serving as Co-Chairs and staffed by a National Urban League Washington Bureau Legislative Director in partnership with National Urban League programming staff.