How did VOICE start?
In Fall 2004, Northern Virginia religious and community leaders invited the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) to work with them to explore the feasibility of building an independent, non-partisan, and locally-controlled citizens organization with the power to address key community issues like affordable housing, health care, transportation, schools, and immigration. These leaders had been inspired by the 2003 victory of Action in Montgomery, an IAF affiliate in Montgomery County Maryland, to create the first dedicated fund for affordable housing in the DC region.
Over three years, IAF Lead Organizer Martin Trimble helped a sponsoring committee of key leaders from Northern Virginia religious and community institutions build an organization.
On October 5, 2008 at First Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Dumfries, VA, 2,100 leaders from 51 congregations and institutions in Northern Virginia attended the founding of VOICE as an organization. Here, VOICE leaders presented their organizing theme: A New Dominion for Justice and Political Participation along with VOICE's action agenda to 27 elected political, corporate and civic leaders including former Governor Mark Warner, Virginia Senator Richard Saslaw, the chief executives of Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, and Prince William counties. Key officials from each Northern Virginia political jurisdiction and from the Commonwealth agreed to work with VOICE to address this action agenda: Affordable Housing & Homelessness, Immigrant Rights, Health Care/Dental Care
VOICE is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization. VOICE is an independent and non-partisan organization. VOICE is led by a strategy team of religious, lay, and community leaders from Northern Virginia. VOICE is funded by dues paid by member institutions (congregations, temples, mosques, union locals, business groups, schools, health centers, etc.) and grants from foundations. VOICE does not seek or accept government funding for its core operating budget.
Each year, VOICE contracts with the Industrial Areas Foundation to provide leadership training, issue and action consultation, and organizer professional development services. VOICE leaders learn about community change from the thousands of leaders and organizers affiliated with the Industrial Areas Foundation network--62 locally controlled and governed organizations in the United States, Canada, England, Germany, and Australia. VOICE works most closely with the Metro Industrial Areas Foundation (Metro IAF) affiliates in the East, Midwest and Southeast.