What is DART?

DART is a national network of congregation-based community organizations spread throughout twenty metropolitan areas in seven states. Each DART related organization is an independent, 501 c (3) nonprofit with their own unique name, funding, and staff. They follow DART’s method of organizing, but determine their own issues and solutions locally. They also hire organizers from the DART Organizers Institute and receive on-going training from DART’s national staff.

What does the acronym DART stand for?

The Direct Action and Research Training Center

What does DART do?

DART develops organizations of congregations to act on common interests and values and effectively negotiate solutions to the root causes of problems in their community.

Why does DART work primarily with congregations?

We believe that God requires us to do justice as an act of faith in the same way we are expected to assist an individual in need or come together for worship, prayer, and study. Unfortunately, congregations often ignore the requirement to do justice by focusing on worship and service to individuals. DART’s mission is to train for congregations to come together and answer the call to do justice successfully. Individuals, families, and single congregations are incapable of answering this call because when acting alone, they are powerless in relation to the political, social, and economic systems in their community. But when congregations work together in large numbers, they acquire the power to hold systems accountable.

What kinds of congregations get involved with DART?

The membership among local DART organizations is interfaith and represents Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and other congregations with a shared value for justice and fairness.

How does DART select the issues it will work on?

DART organizations conduct a formal listening process each year involving at least hundreds of people discussing the problems that affect their lives or offend their sense of justice. This process typically raises a litany of different issues. Next, the organization holds an assembly where leaders vote and narrow the list down to 1-3 problems of greatest importance. Once the problem areas are selected, the organization conducts research to determine viable solutions that will have a lasting impact. During the research phase, leaders are encourage to identify issues/solutions that are popular (engaging and impactful), winnable (not outside the ability of the organization to achieve), and unifying (not divisive).

How are DART related organizations funded?

To retain independence and to ensure long-term sustainability, DART organizations concentrate on raising our own money internally. The three basic sources of funding for a local DART affiliate include: congregational dues, an annual Investment Drive, and foundations. First, to be a member, a congregation must pay dues on a sliding scale related to their size. Second, every DART organization conducts a two-month annual Investment Drive. During this period, we train leaders from participating congregations to approach individuals and major companies in the region to tell the story of their work and to seek an investment. The long-term goal of the Investment Drive is to raise enough money to support a growing staff of professional organizers through large numbers of people investing at moderate amounts (i.e., typically around $200). Third, private and religious foundations often support the initial stages of a new organization in the form of seed money. When considering money, it’s important to note that DART related organizations do not accept government funding and limit the amount that any one corporation can invest.

How does a DART affiliate get started?

Generally a new DART affiliate begins with a group of clergy who invite DART’s national staff to assist them in building an organization. This “invitation-first” policy promises community ownership for the organization from the beginning. Also, DART does not seek to build organizations in cities where a similar organization exists. If you are a clergy person interested in starting a DART organization in your community, please contact Holly Holcombe at (305) 576-8020.

Who are the leaders of DART’s related organizations?

Each local DART organization is led by 400 – 750 unpaid religious and community leaders serving on governing boards and/or acting within their congregations as part of a Justice Ministry Network. These leaders articulate community needs during formal listening processes, vote on the problems the organization will act on, participate in research, inform and enroll others to act together at public meetings, and sustain the organization financially. They are highly diverse representing different political, racial, ethnic, religious, and economic backgrounds. They come together to work toward pragmatic solutions focused on the common good. They set aside labels like red/blue, conservative/liberal, black/white/Hispanic, etc. that divide a city.

What is Direct Action?

A Direct Action is a public meeting in which large numbers of organized people show their support for solutions to serious community problems. They will also negotiate face-to-face with authorities in this public setting to implement specific solutions that will have a positive, long-term impact on the community. This large public meeting is also known as a “Nehemiah Assembly” as inspired by the fifth chapter of the book of Nehemiah.

Is DART aligned with a political party?

No. All organizations in the DART Network are politically non-partisan.