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Five Human Rights Organizations You Should Know About

May 17th, 2012. Filed under Social Good

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” ~Theodore Roosevelt

During Our Revolution Week, we invite you to explore the possibility of participating in your own revolution!

If you’re looking for a meaningful way to get involved, then check out these organizations doing great work throughout the U.S. and the world. While it might seem a monumental task to take on some of the human rights issues facing us today, it truly does take only one dedicated person to make a difference. Many innovative organizations and projects have been started by an individual, or a small handful of people, with a dream and a sense of obligation to make a change in their world.

Taking up issues such as the death penalty, homelessness, human trafficking, domestic violence, and access to health care, here are five human rights organizations that you should know about.

Innocence Project & Innocence Network

What they do: Affiliated with Yeshiva University’s Benjamin Cardozo School of Law, the Innocence Project is a “national litigation and public policy organization” whose main cause is overturning wrongful convictions through DNA testing and working to prevent future such injustices. They advocate for broad reform in the judicial system.

How you can help: Stay informed, educate your peers and encourage them to join you in a local initiative. The Innocence Network has member organizations throughout the U.S. and the world, making it easy for you to contact your local project to get involved. Want to get involved? Go to innocenceproject.org.

National Coalition for the Homeless

What they do: Founded more than 30 years ago, the Coalition is an extensive network of advocates, service providers, and others dedicated to ending homelessness while supporting the rights of those who are currently without homes.
How you can help: CARE to take action, by contributing money or food; advocating for the marginalized; reaching out (volunteering); and educating others. The Coalition publishes extensive directories of national, statewide and local organizations for getting involved, from setting up speaking engagements to registering homeless individuals to vote. Find out more at nationalhomeless.org.

Polaris Project

What they do: Fight human trafficking through individual services, policy advocacy, and strategic campaigns, both within the U.S. and internationally. Their print and online media campaigns provide activists with the tools they need to organize locally. They run a national hotline and provide training and technical assistance to members of their grassroots network.

How you can help: The possibilities for action are endless, from raising awareness through online efforts to holding a fundraising event in your community. Check out other events at polarisproject.org.

Indian Law Resource Center

What they do: According to their site: “Native women face the highest rates of sexual violence and physical assault of any group in the United States.” One of their many human rights projects is Safe Women, Strong Nations, which seeks to educate all women’s rights advocates, and Indian populations specifically, about obtaining equality under the law.

How you can help: Spread the word to your networks by sharing informational videos, available on their website. Stay up to date and educate others about the national Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and international human rights policy developments. Find other ways to assist their effort at indianlaw.org.

The Opportunity Agenda

What they do: Health care as a human right is just one of several issue areas that they cover. One of their core beliefs is that meeting our own basic needs, such as good health, leads to opportunity, while lack of good health care results in lost opportunities. Their values are based on the ideals of the American Dream, and that everyone has a right to basic health care (and economic security) in order to pursue their goals.

How you can help: The Opportunity Agenda has several internships and volunteer openings in the New York area. They also have a wealth of information on human rights for use by local advocates and the media. You can download their tools and reports for use in your own local campaigns.

Some other ways you can get involved:

  • Screen a documentary and facilitate a discussion in your community.
  • Find relevant YouTube videos and recommend them to your social networks.
  • Sign online petitions and contact your elected representatives.

 

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