For nearly 25 years, Dēmos has worked at the intersection of democracy reform, economic justice, and racial justice. Our close ties and partnerships with state-based and grassroots organizations are important to our work, centering the leadership and experiences of those most impacted by regressive systems and policies in the fight for change.

Our democracy is at a critical juncture, and the stakes for Black and brown communities are high. The resurging threat of white supremacy and authoritarianism has undermined decades of political and economic progress. Our grassroots partners and racial justice champions have long understood the necessity of power-building for systemic change. Their successes and challenges in the long fight to secure political access and economic opportunity necessitate a deeper commitment from organizations like Dēmos to build and sustain power for Black and brown communities.

The Dēmos Power Agenda: A Framework for Building People Power reflects our affirmative vision for creating a just, inclusive, multiracial democracy and economy by building civic, political, and economic power for all. This requires structural reforms that include goals and interventions that restore and expand voting rights, strengthen worker rights and protections, and shift power to the people.


At Dēmos, we define power as the “ability of communities most impacted by structural inequity to develop, sustain, and grow an organized base of people who act together through democratic structures to set agendas, shift public discourse, influence who makes decisions, and cultivate ongoing relationships of mutual accountability with decision makers that change systems.1


Our Power Agenda Framework envisions—

  • Economic Security for All
  • Economic Mobility for All
  • Full Political Participation
  • An Inclusive and Expansive Electorate
  • A Representative and Accountable Government

Despite the United States becoming more diverse, 2 our country’s long history of exclusionary policies means that Black and brown communities bear the brunt of interlocking systems of inequality. Exploitative labor laws have concentrated wealth in the hands of the top 10 percent of households, 3 creating an economy that leaves millions of families struggling to make ends meet. Citizens United and other Supreme Court decisions gutting campaign finance restrictions have entrenched the outsized role of money in politics, creating a democracy in which economic power can translate directly into political power. Black and brown people remain overrepresented in low-wage industries 4 and underrepresented at the polls 5 and in the corridors of power.6

To build a representative, multiracial democracy and economy for the demos—the people—we must advance an agenda focusing on the policies and structural changes that uplift the wisdom and insight of state-based and grassroots leaders and work with policymakers to drive solutions where people can wield full economic and political power to build thriving communities.

The Dēmos Power Agenda: A Framework for Building People Power offers a roadmap for our shared future.


Economic Security for All

Our economy leaves working families with inadequate pay and unaffordable goods and services, making it difficult to make ends meet. Structural racism in our economic institutions makes economic security even harder for Black and brown communities.    

Dēmos envisions an economy where all people can regularly meet their daily needs.

To get to economic security for all, Dēmos is focused on:

  • Ensuring all workers, particularly Black and brown workers, earn no less than a thriving wage without overwork or exploitation. 
  • Rebalancing power in the workplace so workers get an equitable share of the value they create in our economy and greater control over how work fits into their lives.
  • Ensuring that all individuals have access to the goods and services that support a comfortable standard of living.  

Download the Framework


Economic Mobility for All

Our economy fosters deep income and wealth inequality, making it difficult for working families to reach or stay in the middle class. Resource-depressed communities and structural racism in our economic institutions have made economic mobility much less likely for Black and brown people.

Dēmos envisions an economy where everyone has an opportunity to improve their economic situation over time and each generation is better off than the last.

To secure economic mobility for all, Dēmos is focused on:

  • Ensuring all individuals have an opportunity to accumulate wealth through savings, investments, and fair tax treatment.
  • Investing robustly in public goods to promote economic mobility for children, families, and communities, particularly Black and brown communities.
  • Ensuring all children can transition into adulthood with the economic support that puts them on the right path toward income growth and wealth accumulation.

Download the Framework

Full Political Participation

Structural inequality and racism hinder Black and brown people from wielding their full political power. From voter suppression tactics to laws that criminalize protest, our political infrastructure does not enable all people to participate in our democracy fully and freely.

Dēmos envisions a democracy where systems are designed to encourage and cultivate the fullest expression of political voice by all.

To ensure full political participation for all, Dēmos is focused on:

  • Building systems and institutions where people influence the policies that shape their lives and their communities, including through direct action and citizen initiatives.
  • Expanding access to voting and centering pro-voter policies that reduce the racial voter turnout gap, including robust language access.
  • Guaranteeing fair and equal representation for Black and brown communities by passing state and federal legislation that strengthens the right to vote, protects against racial vote dilution, and restores and supplements the Voting Rights Act.
  • Challenging voter suppression laws and other anti-democratic practices that target Black and brown communities, including laws that restrict and criminalize protest.

Download the Framework

An Inclusive and Expansive Electorate

America systematically denies the right to vote to millions, creating a democracy that neither includes nor represents all of us. Both the immigration and criminal legal systems persist as powerful tools to deem Black and brown people unworthy of participating in our democracy.

Dēmos envisions a democracy where all people can fully participate, and immigrants and people impacted by the criminal legal system are explicitly embraced.

To ensure an inclusive and expansive electorate, Dēmos is focused on:

  • Advancing the political power and civic participation of immigrants and systems-impacted people.
  • Abolishing penal disenfranchisement at both the state and federal levels.
  • Reducing barriers to citizenship and centering immigrant justice so all people can freely and actively participate in our democracy without fear.

Download the Framework

A Representative and Accountable Government

Corporate and wealthy elites have a stronghold on the levers of government, creating government policies that benefit only the few, often at the expense of the public.

Dēmos envisions a government that embeds public participation in its decision-making and centers the will and well-being of the people.

To ensure that our government is representative and accountable to its people, Dēmos is focused on:

  • Investing in public campaign financing programs that enable more Black and brown candidates to run for office and foster deeper partnerships between elected leaders and their communities.
  • Advancing Supreme Court expansion and other necessary reforms to stop the far-right corporate takeover of the federal judiciary.
  • Ensuring the public, especially Black and brown communities, are at the decision-making table so decisions benefit the public and reflect the will of the people.
  • Creating greater transparency and legibility in the government’s decision-making processes so the public knows when and how to make their voices heard and can hold government leaders accountable for their decisions.

Download the Framework

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