The BCLI provides advocates with not just a voice, but a vote at the table. We recruit people from low-income communities and communities of color who have a proven track record of leadership as social justice advocates. They’re distinguished by a passion to change systems by learning the “inside game.” We deeply invest in each cohort through our six-month BCLI fellowship, which teaches advocates how to understand complex and intersecting policy arenas, navigate the culture and language of commissions, and build effective relationships in and outside the commission. 

Building the Power of Leaders of Color

Fellows join targeted seats based on their interests and capacity. For some, the BCLI launches them into a political career, and may be a step towards elected office, or state or national seats. Others find themselves invited to join multiple other commissions by government officials and other advocates who value their perspective and experience.

BCLI graduates support each other and other advocates to navigate the system, its players and its power dynamics. Some enter city government as staff; others rise in leadership within their own organizations or join nonprofit boards. For all our graduates, the BCLI opens up possibilities, strengthening the confidence of marginalized leaders to navigate the realms of advocacy and decision-making. 

Transforming Policy and Plans

The BCLI network leverages their seats on boards and commissions to bring race and class to the forefront of local and regional policies and plans. BCLI-trained commissioners ask critical questions about who benefits and who is burdened by policy decisions, and they offer solutions that integrate community participation and perspectives. Through the BCLI, we make tangible policy impacts that benefit low-income communities of color. We make race and class analysis a critical part of commission recommendations and decisions.