January 8, 2014
Vol: 21 No: 2

Director's Corner

Real Change is coming into our 20th anniversary year in our best shape ever

By Timothy Harris / Executive Director

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Thanks to you, Real Change is coming into our 20th anniversary year in our best shape ever.  Our intentions are clear. Our staff is the best we’ve had. Our vendors are succeeding like never before, and we have the resources we need to create new success.

We set a goal of raising $160,000 over the last six weeks of 2013 to come into the new year strong. At $200,624 raised by year-end, our supporters blew that goal out of the water.

Here’s a peek at what’s coming:

Real Change is very excited about our partnerships to sign up new vendors in Bremerton and Bellevue, and thanks to your generous donations, we have the resources to support our vendors and to make those sites a success. With part-time staffing and a peer-support model, we will see new successes in these areas and build the template for other expansion efforts.

We will also launch our cashless payment app for Android and iPhone in March of this year.  After nearly two years of work, we will soon overcome the biggest barrier to success that our vendors face: many people seldom carry cash. 

The app will scan a QR code on the vendor badge and bill through the app store to create the fast, reliable and secure transaction that readers need. They’ll get a digital Real Change to read on a phone or tablet at their convenience. Vendor payment is credited to their account, and is redeemable for cash as soon as we open the following day.

Our newspaper will continue to offer the necessary journalism that garnered Real Change 11 first-place journalism awards in 2013. There will be new investigative reporting, an improved website and more integration with social media. We understand that while readers may begin buying Real Change to help the vendor, what keeps you engaged and reading is the high-quality reporting that you’ve come to expect. 

Our expanded grassroots organizing will bring new levels of vendor engagement and allow us to tell the stories that create empathy and understanding. The Real Change Homeless Speakers Bureau is busting out with new speakers and a steady stream of regular engagements. Our film storytelling project is winning awards and creating new material to share. Our leadership-development work is creating a culture of empowerment where vendors are finding their voice throughout the organization and beyond.

This year, Real Change will continue to push for expanded survival services to reduce the numbers of people without even basic shelter, and to advocate for a fair economy with our work to support a new minimum wage.  We will continue to grow economic literacy and activism through the Economic Justice Film Series.

Finally, Real Change will look beyond the coming year with the creation of our 2015-2017 strategic plan. We will build on our strengths of vendor success and engagement, quality journalism and cross-class organizing and advocacy.

As we head into our third decade, there is no room for complacency.  Seattle is a city where the success of the most affluent often comes at the expense of the poor and middle class. We are not unique in this. Growing inequality has defined America for four decades. 

But the tide is turning. We can all see the signs. And we are all called to be a part of the solution. Together, real change is possible. Happy 2014. We’re not going to leave this year the way we found it.

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