The Direct Action and Research Training Center, or DART, is a national network of 23 affiliated grassroots, nonprofit, congregation-based community organizations. DART organizations bring people together across racial, religious and socioeconomic lines to pursue justice in their communities. Since 1982, DART has trained over 10,000 community leaders and 150 professional community organizers, who together have won victories on a broad set of issues, including:
- Proven approaches to limit out of school suspensions and juvenile arrests
- Reading instruction and fair suspension policies in public schools
- Multi-million dollar investments in affordable housing
- Massive multi-million dollar expansions of public transportation
- Accessible health care reform in several major metropolitan cities Investment in jobs training and opportunities
- Clean-up of drugs and crime
- Dozens of other issues important to low-income communities
The organizing process we use for building powerful organizations follows a basic three-step yearly cycle:
LISTENING. Every year, leaders within each DART organization spend time meeting with others from their congregation in order to strengthen their relationships, discuss community problems, and establish networks. Through these conversations, common areas of concern emerge. Leaders then vote to determine a few major priorities to focus on for the immediate future.
RESEARCH. Leaders form research committees to determine viable solutions that will resolve the problem long-term, as well as the individuals in their community who possess the authority to implement those solutions.
ACTION. The organizations then hold a large public meeting called a Nehemiah Action Assembly. Members from all of the congregations involved in the organization (usually thousands of supporters) gather to hear testimonies as to how these issues affect people’s lives and negotiate solutions with appropriate authorities in attendance.