Our History: 20 Years at a Glance
Click image to view larger, or download as a PDF: Real Change History: 20 Years at a glance (PDF)
Real Change was founded in 1994 to offer immediate employment options for the poor and homeless and challenge the structures that create poverty. Real Change serves our vendors through three integrated approaches:
Vendor Program: Real Change meets vendors where they are. No ID is required, and vendors make the commitment that works for them. They begin selling the paper immediately after a 90-minute orientation that includes agreement to the code of conduct, brief sales training, and an invitation to involvement in various program activities. Additional opportunities include advanced sales trainings, elected vendor leadership positions, vendor internships, assistance with resource referral, access to the computer lab, and paid participation in the Homeless Speakers Bureau.
Real Change Newspaper: Real Change is North America’s leading street newspaper that provides work for about 800 homeless and low-income people annually. Our weekly progressive community newspaper won sixteen first place awards for excellence in 2014 from the Washington Press Association and the Society of Professional Journalists, and focuses on issues of economic, social and racial justice. We ensure that Real Change is relevant to the concerns of our vendors through an editorial committee of homeless and formerly homeless people that meets weekly to discuss content.
Real Change Advocacy: Real Change leverages relationships between vendors and readers to increase opportunities for homeless and low-income people. In 2014, Real Change launched the OutsideIN campaign to pressure policymakers to reduce the numbers of unsheltered people in King County. This campaign, which included numerous public events to support a petition campaign aimed at key policymakers, helped create the community pressure that resulted in a $1.2M budget add by City Council for new shelter and the formation of Mayor Ed Murray’s Emergency Task Force on Unsheltered Homelessness. The Center for Community Change recently highlighted this campaign in their national organizers blog.
2015-2018 Strategic Plan
Real Change approved the 2015-2017 strategic plan at the January meeting of the Board of Directors. Key 2015 strategic initiatives include:
Increase the number of people who read and buy Real Change
- Double website traffic and increase number of print readers
- Increase digital sales to 10% of total circulation
- Increase active vendors by 10% with focus on South Seattle and East King County
Become a model organization working at the intersection of race and class
- Apply Seattle Race and Social Justice Initiative recommendations to progress as an organization that builds racial equity
- Increase representation of vendors and low-income people at Real Change
Mobilize the Real Change community for social action
- Formalize working relationships with 2 legislative and 5 community allies in areas of economic justice, housing affordability, and racial equity
- Engage 1,000 activists in new “Change Agent” mobilization strategy
- Increase number of Homeless Speakers Bureau engagements by 20%
Secure Real Change’s long-term stability
- Implement new growth-oriented funding strategies to fund 2015-2017 plan.
- Invest in organization-wide leadership development and plan for continuity in key roles