About Freedom Inc.
Freedom, Inc. (FI) is a Black and Southeast Asian non-profit organization that works with low- to no-income communities of color. Our mission is to achieve social justice through coupling direct services with leadership development and community organizing that will bring about social, political, cultural, and economic change resulting in the end of violence against women, gender-non-conforming and transgender folks, and children within communities of color. FI works to challenge the root causes of violence, poverty, racism and discrimination. Our belief is that people who are most affected by these issues must have voice, power, resources and choice, in order for true social change to happen.
Our Community is Our Campaign
At Freedom, Inc. we describe our governance structure as a flower. Rather than making decisions through a traditional non-profit hierarchy, activities are coordinated through overlapping committees that form the petals of a flower (eg. programs for youth, empowerment, organizing, political education, and domestic violence services advocacy are linked together with operations like fundraising and administration).
The center of the flower is made up of the organization's members, so the community served is the community in control of the issues, campaigns, and strategies engaged by the organization.
The staff facilitates communication of key needs and priorities, which strengthens continued leadership within our communities. Staff, in conjunction with community leaders and elders, collaborate to maintain focus and progress when addressing needs.
The board assumes financial and legal responsibilities, but defers leadership to the staff and community for maintaining mission-driven work and strategies.
The mission statement and organizational model for Freedom, Inc. is "Our community is our campaign." We maintain positively-directed focus on the greatest benefit to our multi-faceted communities. Concerted efforts are led by those most susceptible to, and affected by, violence, injustice, and inequality. We continuously hone our critical strategies for developing and sustaining that leadership. In doing so, we provide a cross-sectional and multi-pronged approach to goal achievement that ensures prosperity and success for our future.
Our work began in 2000, when 26-year-old Kabzuag Vaj saw the need for a safe space in Madison, WI for young Hmong women to talk about the challenges they faced. She created the Asian Freedom Project and mobilized Southeast Asian teens in her neighborhood around issues of racial, profiling, welfare reform, and gender justice. In 2003 we became Freedom, Inc. and expanded our work to include Black and Southeast Asian youth, women, gender-nonconforming, and LGBTQ people. Since then we have continued to expand by creating specific programs focused on the needs of elders, refugees, immigrants, differently abled, and homeless people in our Black and Southeast Asian communities.
This video from 2014 called "Our Story: Building Black & Hmoob Movement" explains some of our origins.