Lobbying with A 501(c)(3) status


In my short time so far as a YWCA advocacy intern my primary concern was being non-partisan while running a Get Out the Vote social media campaign. To me being non-partisan meant avoiding talking about political issues. Additionally, I believed that having 501(c)(3) status meant that because we were tax exempt we could not be overly political, we could not lobby, and we could not voice concerns directly about the government even though politics directly influences our work.

However, on Friday September 16th I attended the Worry Free Advocacy Work-Shop put on by the Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona in partnership with the YWCA of Southern Arizona. They invited national expert Sarah Matlin, Bi-lingual Counsel for the Alliance for Justice to lead the workshop. Previous illusions about non-profits were quickly shattered. What I learned is that 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations can sometimes be partisan and engage in lobbying efforts.

First and foremost, 501(c)(3)’s are limited in their lobbying efforts, however, Sarah Matlin, informed me and the rest of the audience that very rarely will a 501(c)(3) do too much lobbying. The way that the IRS looks at the lobbying efforts of a 501(c)(3) is to measure efforts. How do you measure effort? The answer is simple. You do not measure effort; rather you submit a one-time form called the 501(h) Expenditure test. This form allows your non-profit 501(c)(3) agency to measure your lobbying efforts in money rather than vague terms like efforts. Additionally, once this form is submitted 501(c)(3)’s can spend 20% of their overall budget on lobbying efforts. Additionally, because you do not pay volunteers, volunteer time does not count as part of the 20%. Thus, 501(c)(3)’s can and should be lobbying.

Sarah Matlin also destroyed my ill-conceived notions of what lobbying is versus what it actually is. Lobbying is trying to influence new laws, including supporting or opposing ballot measures. However, an non-profit organization can criticize and praise incumbent officials. Additionally, if the non-profit has a social media page, the page needs to have a disclaimer of some sort, saying that the organization is non-partisan. However, non-profits can let partisan comments from others slide as long as they have the disclaimer on their page.

I learned that non-profits can do a lot more in terms of politics and lobbying than I had previously thought. I will be using the social media tips that Sarah shared such as making sure that the GOTV Facebook page has a disclaimer on it immediately. Additionally, any non-profit that I work for in future will likely file the 50(h) Expenditure test form in order to use 20% of our overall budget towards lobbying. Hopefully, Sarah will spread her knowledge far and wide so that nonprofits can help make big legislative changes in the upcoming years.




Valerie Denogean is MSW PAC student at ASU. She was born and raised in Tucson. She is interested in prison-reform, immigration, education-reform, politics, inequalities because of race and gender. However, currently she is interested in Eco-Feminism and how the treatment of women connects with the state of the environment, the treatment of animals, and our food. Valerie likes to run, hike and swim. She swam competitively for the Guilford College Quaker Swim team. She likes to travel and hopes to use her Social Work Degree in Northern Virginia after graduation.

Leave a comment

Filed under Empowering Women, Justice

Monday Changemaker Book Club

Monday morning the Changemaker Bookclub met at the Frances McClelland Community Center to discuss our personal reactions to The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander.  As an individual, I have been aware of the racial disparity in the age of Mass Incarceration. I grew up knowing people who looked like me were more likely to be incarcerated. This knowledge inspired a greater value on fairness and justice. In an age of mass incarceration for communities of color how can we inspire greater compassion and care and move into a place of action for criminal justice reform? The important aspect is to consider who is deserving of compassion and care which is related to what we have as a society value in Justice. To us, justice is a person paying a personal debt for their mistakes with their money, their time, and their freedom. To us, Justice is a sentence. Something with a beginning and an end, to repay back to the victims of a loss. Justice is the quality of being fair and reasonable. However, the Life Sentences that the societal vision justice imposes extend farther past the completion of a probation, prison, and parole sentence. This is beyond the scope of what is fair and reasonable.

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander compares current practices of justice and its relation to colorblindness in mass incarceration. The problem with being colorblind is that when we avoid the topic of race in mass incarceration, we are not seeing who really is represented in our prison populations. It allows us to be blind  to what is really happening in our justice system. When one third of our nation’s African American males and a quarter of Latinos are incarcerated– yet we scrutinize men of color for lack of engagement in their communities.  We are seeing colorblindness fail our communities of color. This is beyond the scope of fair and reasonable.

Now understanding the failure of fair and reasonable justice for our communities of color, how do we inspire and model care and compassion for individuals who are formerly incarcerated to advocate for actual justice?

 The Changemaker Bookclub meets at the Frances McClelland community center to discuss the issues and our responsibility for racial justice. This conversation will continue on October 12 with our next book of the Changemaker Bookclub series, The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin.-we hope that you will join us for this on-going conversation.

-Sara Cota Galaz


Sara Cota Galaz is a Master’s of Social Work Candidate at Arizona State University’s School of Social Work-Tucson Component working with the YWCA of Southern Arizona’s advocacy programs. She is a proud Wildcat Alum with earning her BA in Political Science from the School of Government and Public Policy. She is an advocate for issues relating to economic justice and its intersectionality between workforce development for women in poverty, mass incarceration, and reentry. She is a member of the Oracle Board-Greek Advisory Board at the University of Arizona, Pima County Re-Entry Coalition, and the Coalition for Fair and Just Policing.

Leave a comment

Filed under Eliminating Racism, Justice

Thanks SURJ-a brief speech

This was delivered an Ally event sponsored by Standing Up for Racial Justice, Tucson.  This event was part of the National Call to Action on July 21st, 2016.  This event, Rally and Outreach in Solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives, took place  at 5Pm in front of the Federal Courthouse @ 405 W. Congress–this is the site where the travesty of justice, Operation Streamline, takes place each week in Tucson.  

–liane, (@loquesera) August 2, 2016



First, I want to say thank you.  Thank you to the organizers for gathering these voices in support of and in solidarity to say very clearly that BLACK LIVES MATTER.

Today, in response to a call for Freedom Now:

A freedom from violence

A freedom from oppression

Freedom to be our full selves

A freedom to Love

We hear that call and Tucson Showed Up.

Here in this community we gather to collectively imagine a new and inevitable future where we are all safe and able to not only live but to thrive and say very clearly that Black Lives Matter.

Today, we recognize that the tradition of state sponsored violence against black men and boys extends from a national history that devalues life.  So, our collective advocacy and action is also a continuation of the struggle for self-determination, free from the tyranny of neglect and the cycle of state sponsored violence and willful indifference to the suffering of entire communities.

We, of the YWCA, have been working alongside and from the margins since 1889.  In this time, we have centered women and communities of color in the ongoing struggle to eliminate racism, empower women and the promotion of peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.  We further understand that the pain, historical trauma and legacy of violence in our communities is not equally responded to, nor is it acknowledged by the leaders, judges, system or by our own communities at times.

How else is it possible that in the year since Sandra Bland’s death, 800 additional people have died in US Jails?

How else could it be that our carceral system can destroy the lives of 1-in-3 Black men, while simultaneously shattering and fragmenting the lives and well being of Black women and children?

We see that this structural and institutional racism is not discreet, rather it extends to all aspects of our lived experience from our national promise of the pursuit of happiness, to access to healthy food, green spaces for communities to gather and flourish, fertile soil, drinkable water, participation in the democratic process or the interaction with an ever increasingly militarized police presence here and on the border.  We see that the wheels of change must cover a vast and ever-shifting terrain.

So,  we all have work to do to ensure that our sisters and brothers of the black community as well as all of us who believe in freedom, have the ability to thrive.  We must all make daily interventions from asking questions and demanding answers of who in our communities get justice and who do not.

We must acknowledge that social justice is both a process and a goal.  But, that means that there are roles for all of us in developing a future that is equitable, safe and secure for all our community.

So, thank you for showing up here on the steps of Operation Streamline.  Thank you for showing up for each other and for a movement that battles the complex systems of oppression that we all carry to say Black Lives Matter.

Together, and only together, can we uncover truths, right wrongs and collectively build the future that we all deserve.


Leave a comment

Filed under Eliminating Racism, Justice

A Survivor’s Guide

The Pima County Women’s Commission has released a helpful resource called Domestic Abuse, Assault and Violence Survivor’s Guide. Click here to download the guide and please share with others.

Leave a comment

Filed under Domestic Violence, Empowering Women, Justice, Uncategorized

98 is the new 28

On May 1st, we celebrated the 98th anniversary of the YWCA in Tucson with a breakfast for 250 in our courtyard. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, new civil rights leader and state senator from Missouri, representing the district that includes parts of St. Louis and Ferguson, was our keynote speaker. These are remarks from our Executive Director, Kelly Fryer:

The other day one of my team mates (ok, it was Liane) stopped by the restaurant supply store to pick a few things up for our café, and one of the guys who runs the store said, “Boy o boy, it looks like the YWCA is getting a little radical.”

I think he probably saw an ad for this event and saw who the keynote speaker was. (All I have to say, Maria, is that, if I was getting tear gassed in the street by my governor, I’d probably use the F word, too. If you’ve Googled Maria, you know what I’m talking about.)

I’m not surprised that our friend at the restaurant supply store was surprised. There are a lot of misconceptions about the YWCA. There are all those people who think we’re the yMca, first of all. Then there are all the people out there who never heard of us before and when they DO find out about everything that’s going on here, say things to me like “So when did THAT place open?” (ummm, 1917) But my favorite people are the ones who HAVE heard about the YWCA before and have this idea that we’re a bunch of little old church ladies.

I want to put that one to bed right now.

First, we haven’t been church ladies since about 1932 (sic). And even before that the YW has always been a place where women of every religion, race and ethnicity have worked together to make the world a better place. Second, there is nothing little about us. There are 30,000 people that come in and out of this building every year, including 1000 in and out of Your Sister’s Closet alone. And we belong to a national movement that has 1300 sites and 2 million members across the United States. Third, we might be celebrating our 98th birthday in Tucson, but there is nothing OLD about us.

Does the work of justice ever get old? Does speaking up for those whose voices have been silenced and standing with those who have been trampled on ever get old? Here’s what I have to say to people who think the YWCA is “old”: 98 is the new 28.

We have so much work to do.

Three-four out of every ten children in Southern Arizona live in poverty, and most of them belong to single moms. But this State has made it nearly impossible for poor women to find affordable access to reproductive health care. And the Budget our new Governor just signed cuts aid to needy families, includes $0 dollars for child care subsidies and completely eliminates all funding for community colleges – three things research by the Women’s Foundation says are necessary for women to get themselves and their kids out of poverty.

Instead, we get prisons. And more prisons. Prisons that are privately owned. Prisons that someone, somewhere is making a lot of money on. Did you know that, in Arizona, three private prisons operate with a 100% occupancy guarantee? That means the state GUARANTEES they’ll have enough prisoners to fill every bed. And you know who’s filling those beds, right? Let me just put it this way: Those folks don’t look like me.[i]

A little radical, huh? You bet your granny pants we’re a little radical. That’s what the YWCA has always been. We marched for the Right to Vote in the early 1900’s. We lobbied Congress for an 8-hour work day and an end to child labor. We opened our hearts and doors to women of color, on both sides of the Mason Dixon line, before the muskets had even cooled off at the end of the Civil War. We marched with Dr. King and stood beside him on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. We helped get the Violence Against Women Act passed last year and made sure it included protection for LGBT folks, immigrants and Native American women. More than 300,000 people all across the United States (including a lot of you) stood with the YWCA and took a Pledge Against Racism last week.

And last week I was in Washington, D.C. with other YW CEO’s lobbying Congress to finally get the End Racial Profiling Act passed into law – and demanding that it apply to ALL law enforcement agents and agencies, including the United States Border Patrol. (Maria, I know this sounds strange because you and I are both from the Midwest and we don’t have to go through a checkpoint to get from Illinois to Missouri – but we have to go through one to get from here to California. And, believe me when I say, I never get stopped – but you would. In fact, a lot of our Latina sisters, especially immigrants, are so afraid of getting in trouble they are afraid to leave their neighborhoods, go to their kids school, go to the doctor or report a crime.)

We are living in a time that demands a little radical. You know, like writing a letter to the Governor or calling your Senator. How many of you have ever made a call like that?

Let’s do it right now. (This is when we actually dialed Senator Flake’s DC office and all 250 of us left a cheering message, thanking him for his leadership on trying to get immigration reform passed and asking him to co-sponsor the #EndRacialProfilingAct.)

Now that’s what I’m talking about!

We do so much good for so many individual women and their families here at the YW. And many of you – through your foundations and government grants – help fund that work. But we haven’t found a grant that can help us do THIS (hold up phone). This is where you come in. Your personal giving does BOTH things: It helps individual women change their lives…and it helps us change the systems that make their lives so darn hard in the first place.

Happy birthday YWCA! You don’t look a day older than 28.

[To make a donation in honor of the YWCA’s 98th birthday in Tucson, please click here. Thank you for your support!]

[i] http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/04/28/how-for-profit-prisons-have-become-the-biggest-lobby-no-one-is-talking-about/?postshare=4721430256807275

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Five Reasons to Support the YWCA Southern Arizona!

AZ_GD_2015_Logo_F_CMYKThere are so many great organizations in Tucson! Today on #AZGivesDay please support your favorites. But don’t forget to include your YWCA.

Click here to make a donation.

Here are five unique reasons to make a donation to the YW today. The YWCA is the ONLY organization in Southern Arizona offering:

1. Workforce education & support specifically for women living in poverty, immigrant women and domestic abuse survivors (200 each year)

2. Free professional mental health counseling to low income women(400 served annually)

3. A week’s worth of work ready, professional clothing and one-on-one coaching for low income, unemployed women(800-1000 each year!)

4. Leadership training for professional women and entrepreneurs (500+ each year)

5. Small business education, counseling and incubation focused on women, immigrants and people in poverty(400 each year)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Arizona earns C- in women’s pay, employment*

Women in Arizona face enormous challenges. Nearly 50% are unemployed and, of those who are working, more than 60% are in low wage jobs. Based on research from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research in Washington, DC, that earns Arizona a lukewarm C-. Several states, all in the South, earned an F. So, while things could be much worse, in Arizona we’re #notthere yet.

According to the Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona, 500,000 Arizona women live in poverty. Based on their research, a pathway out of poverty for women requires:

  • Child care subsidies and early childhood education for the children;
  • Temporary Aid to Needy Families while women get the help they need to find work;
  • Access to affordable adult education and community colleges, so they can qualify for work with self-sufficient wages.

This year our State leaders passed a budget that slashed or eliminated funding for each one of these critical programs.

Here at your YW, we are taking action to help women in Southern Arizona. Through our new Women’s Center for Economic Opportunity (WCEO) we are expanding our programming to help women across the economic spectrum get the training and support they need to succeed. But we also need to make our voices heard. We need both Action and Advocacy.

Call the Governor & your elected State officials – or better yet go see them while they’re on break from the legislature. Tell them Arizona can’t afford to balance the budget on the backs of women and children.

Arizona has its priorities wrong. Let’s change that, together. #noceilings #notthere

*An article with this headline appeared in the Arizona Republic, March 23, 2015.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

We Stand Together Tucson

The 2nd Annual Delores Huerta Luncheon was held at the YWCA’s Frances McClelland Community Center of March 4, 2015. These are the welcome remarks from our Executive Director to our guests:

Bienvenidos, welcome to the YWCA Southern Arizona. It is such a privilege to be able to host the 2nd Annual Delores Huerta luncheon.

I was reminded this morning to bring my gavel. There is no better way to begin this event than with a crack of a union gavel on the podium (crack it).

This gavel belonged to my grandfather who was a union organizer and later president of the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union in the Calumet Region, just outside of Chicago. It sits on my desk as a reminder that: Justice only happens when people work together…when they work together with people who are different from them but who are all striving, in their own way, for justice, peace, freedom and dignity.

We stand with Rosa.*

We stand with Rosa!

And we also stand with single moms who can’t afford child care to work or go to school in this state, where child care subsidies have been cut to the bone. We stand with our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters who are still fighting for equal marriage. We stand with African American moms and dads who should not have to bear the burden of having to teach their sons (and their daughters, too) how to respond when they are stopped by the police. We stand with minimum wage workers who are not making a living wage and who have to choose between a paycheck and a sick kid, because they do not have paid sick days. We stand with poor women who do not have access to affordable reproductive health care and, therefore, do not have control over their own bodies, families or future.

We stand with Rosa!

And we stand with all people who are working for peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.

We stand together Tucson!

– Kelly Fryer

*We stand with Rosa is a campaign in support of Rosa Robles, an immigrant woman who is living in sanctuary in a Tucson church.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Advocacy Matters

On Friday, January 30, we held a ribbon cutting for the new Women’s Center for Economic Opportunity. About 175 people attended and heard from YW leaders about various initiatives happening. Diane Wilson, YW Board member and Chair of the Board Advocacy Committee, gave an update about the YW’s policy initiatives and advocacy work. This is her report:

“The Advocacy Committee was approved by the YWCA board in April 2013. Its purpose is to support the mission of the YWCA to eliminate racism and empower women by identifying issues, gathering information, developing policies and facilitating action to bring about social change.  The committee studies issues appropriate to our local YWCA, our membership and nationally adopted YWCA positions and advocates when necessary. We distribute information,  recommend actions, send letters to government officials, testify at hearings and visit local officials about issues related to our mission.The chair is a board member, and members include board and non- board members.

Our actions have included the YWCA Tucson support of Medicaid Expansion in Arizona to benefit low income women and children; freedom to marry efforts in Arizona; immigration reform efforts to make family reunification a top priority; providing workshops in gender issues, and educating the community about the impact of mass incarceration.  All of these issues are ones that the national YWCA is addressing.

We have sent letters to President Obama and officials in the Department of Homeland Security in behalf of Rosa Robles Loreto and Francisco Perez Cordova who have been in Sanctuary in two different churches. We supported a stay in their deportation orders since they fit into the category of low priority that President Obama has recently named in his Executive Order of November 2014 and allows their reunification with their families. This action fits with the YWCA Tucson Immigration Reform Policy that states “The YWCA supports immigration reform that includes a legal path to citizenship, makes family reunification a top priority, includes a system to allow those known as Dreamers an expedited process for citizenship application and protects the rights and working conditions of all workers”.

We testified at the Tucson City Council in support of agreements that would disallow Tucson Police Department Officers Resource Officers in TUSD to question students about their legal status. The City Council agreed with our recommendation.

The YWCA Tucson recently became a co-sponsor of Keeping Tucson Legal Clinic training forums assisting individuals to complete two important government documents. These are the Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (DACA) for children who have entered the US prior to age 16 and want to stay here; and Deferred Action Parental Accountability (DAPA) for adults who have been present in the US before January 1, 2010 and have children who are US citizens.  The legal clinic currently has ten non-profit sponsors, including three churches.

The committee has sponsored two gender equity workshops by Tim Wernette on Raising Our Sons and Keeping our Daughters Safe.

We have held one forum on Immigration Reform and one on Prison History and Policy. Three more forums on Mass Incarceration and the impact on our community are scheduled for 2015. The topics and dates are: April 29, Women and People of Color in Prisons; September 23, Private Prisons and Immigration Issues; and November 18, Re-Entry and Re-Integration of Prisoners.

The committee is recommending increasing our voter registration opportunities for participants. We have had voter registration available in our computer lab with our former YWorks program and we are continuing it in our Mi Carrera program.

Our Board members are: Janet Grace, Tim Wernette, Tanisha Price-Johnson, Laura Dent and Diane Wilson who are all board members. Community members are Jessie Baxter, Outreach Manager from Representative Grivalva’s office, Alice Berry and Amber Miller who are students from University High School and Violeta Lazo, a graduate of YWCA Mi Carrera. Liane Hernandez serves as YWCA staff member.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

YWCA & CFSA appointing a Joint Task Force Committee to explore a Strategic Facilities Partnership

The Community Foundation for Southern Arizona’s Board of Trustees and the Board of Directors of YWCA Southern Arizona are currently appointing staff and program representatives from both organizations to a joint task force to discuss the possibility of a strategic facilities partnership.

Currently the Community Foundation is seeking to explore ways it can accommodate its increased staff and expanding role in the community as a convener and go to organization for collaborative partnerships. The YWCA is seeking ways to deepen and expand its impact in the community through strategic partnerships and have identified the Community Foundation as one such partner. The joint task force committee is expected to return its findings to the leadership of both organizations by April 1, 2015.

While details of the facilities partnership are yet to be decided, here are some FAQs related to the partnership that have been discussed and agreed upon by both organizations: CFSA and YWCA Facilities Partnership FAQs

Please refer all inquiries to Kelly Fryer kfryer@ywcatucson.org.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized