Deep Canvassing: The Proven Method to Change Hearts and Minds! Do you want to have compassionate, non-judgmental conversations across lines of difference? We can show you how!

Who We Are

People’s Action Institute

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Advance a long-term agenda for racial, economic and gender justice by investing in powerful state and local organizations and campaigns that win real change in people’s lives.

About PAI

For 50 years, People’s Action Institute and our affiliates have fought for reforms that recognize poor and working people’s dignity and make material and political improvements to millions of lives. Our victories include the Community Reinvestment Act, Superfund, the Affordable Care Act and the MAT Act. Our focus is now on expanding and deepening community organizing so we can build lasting power across the country. We must invest in our most precious resources: the capacity and leadership of our people and their ability to truly connect to one another.

Graphic of a printed copy of the report "The Antidote to Authoritarianism"

The Antidote to Authoritarianism

How can we build a multiracial and pluralistic democracy with an inclusive economy to defeat the rise of authoritarianism? This question is front and center for People’s Action Institute and our allies. As experienced organizers dedicated to building power among those long denied it, we know firsthand that transformation happens from the ground up.


Dive into the Latest Reports from the People's Action Institute

Our reports highlight research and findings that advance our efforts toward social justice, promoting grassroots initiatives for building a more equitable future.

Conversations Transforming America

Deep Canvass Institute: Impact Report 2021-2023

In an era redefined by hyperpolarization, misinformation, and the rise of authoritarian forces, we speak to the urgency of connecting people through conversation, building social cohesion, and equipping organizers with the tools to win fights for a more just, inclusive society. By leading us to practice compassion, deep listening, and democratic values at a mass interpersonal level, our work supports the monumental cultural, social, and political shifts required to meet this moment.

Deep Canvass Institute
September 2023
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2022 Annual Report

Launching an Organizing Revival

How can we build a multiracial and pluralistic democracy with an inclusive economy to defeat the rise of authoritarianism? This question is front and center for People’s Action Institute and our allies. As experienced organizers dedicated to building power among those long denied it, we know firsthand that transformation happens from the ground up.

People's Action Institute
August 2023
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The Antidote to Authoritarianism

How an Organizing Revival Can Build a Multiracial Pluralistic Democracy and an Inclusive Economy

Through in-depth conversations with 27 of the most experienced and thoughtful leaders who build power among the multiracial poor and working class, we explore current challenges and chart the path towards a shared solution.

Beth Jacob & James Mumm
May 2023
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Strengthening Medicaid

Challenges States Must Address as the Public Health Emergency Ends

Medicaid is vital, improving health and financial stability, reducing disparities, and creating jobs. However, enrollment and renewal processes need improvement. The pandemic highlighted the importance of continuous coverage, but it ended in 2022, potentially causing disenrollments. Administrative barriers and the end of federal funds may result in 15 million people losing coverage. A survey from September 2022 to February 2023 examines recipient experiences and challenges.

Sarah Thomason & Eli Vitulli
May 2023
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2022: The Year of Victory!

People’s Action Overdose Crisis Cohort

The Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act was signed into law by President Biden on December 29, 2022. This is a huge victory for the People’s Action Overdose Crisis Cohort member leaders who organized their neighbors, made phone calls and hosted meetings to secure this victory.

People's Action Institute
March 2023
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Behind the Curtain

The Corporate Plot to Upend Democracy

We uncover how corporate America wants to make inequity a permanent part of American life. We zero in on who is spending big to stop progressive policies in key sectors: taxes, drug pricing, healthcare, housing, the environment, and immigration. We name the corporate bad actors and show how their efforts undermine our democracy as well as our economy.

People’s Action Institute & Demos
September 2021
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How China Threat Narratives Feed Anti-Asian Racism and How to Fight Back

Anti-Asian Racism is on the Rise

This report analyzes reasons for current trends and suggests potential counternarrative strategies. While the Chinese government and businesses have criticisms, it’s vital to differentiate legitimate concerns from threat inflation and counteract narratives promoting racism.

Tobita Chow
June 2021
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How to Counter the Politics of Scapegoating

Healing Geopolitical Divisions at the Grassroots

Narratives that portray China as an exaggerated threat to the welfare and the way of life of people in the US and use China as a scapegoat for social and economic problems in the US are particularly alarming. Justice is Global is responding to this dangerous trend with strategies to counter the rush toward confrontation with China.

Sandy Shan, Justice is Global
June 2021
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2020: The Year of Imagining a World with No Overdose Deaths

The War on Drugs has the potential to be one of the great uniters - or dividers

Throughout 2020, the Overdose Crisis Cohort served as an important space for groups to come together, learn from each other, and gain a deeper understanding of the landscape to end the Overdose Crisis. The two primary ways that the cohort acted together was through developing and participating in a messaging research project and acting in concert on International Overdose Awareness Day

People's Action Drug Overdose Crisis Cohort
February 2021
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How to Defeat Trump and Heal America

Deep Canvassing and Political Persuasion in the 2020 Presidential Election

People’s Action has completed the first-ever deep canvassing political persuasion experiment this month and the results are groundbreaking. We partnered with the New Conversation Initiative to help design the deep canvass persuasion strategy and researchers David Broockman Josh Kalla to conduct an evaluation of the program.

People's Action
September 2020
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Relief, Recovery and Reimagination

A Federal Policy Agenda to Meet this Moment in Rural and Small Town America

Since the 2016 election, political news often speculates about rural communities, their residents, views, and voting patterns. There’s a prevailing belief that today’s political polarization created a permanent urban-rural divide. Many politicians dismiss rural votes. We believe it doesn’t have to be this way.

People's Action
August 2020
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A People’s Orientation to a Regenerative Economy

Protect, Repair, Invest, and Transform

The intersecting crises of income and wealth inequality and climate change, driven by systemic white supremacy and gender inequality, has exposed the frailty of the U.S. economy and democracy. This document was prepared during the COVID-19 pandemic, which exacerbated these existing crises and underlying conditions. Transforming our economy is not just about swapping out elected leaders. We need a shift in popular consciousness.

United Frontline Table
June 2020
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Building a Bigger We

Changing Hearts & Minds on Immigration in Rural and Small-town America

Following the 2016 election, People’s Action member organizations initiated a collective strategy to bolster their presence in rural and small-town communities. They conducted extensive deep listening in ten target states, engaging in nearly 10,000 conversations and collaborating with Catalist on voting trend research. Additionally, they established 25 organizing chapters in rural areas, conducting over 392,000 door-knocks and 115,226 conversations with rural voters during the 2018 midterm elections.

Adam Kruggel
March 2020
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How to Build a Progressive Populist Political Movement in Rural and Small-Town America

Over the past century, successful movements for political and economic progress relied on urban-rural coalitions. However, recent divisions in American politics threaten this unity. This report outlines a path to rebuild a diverse “great majority” across rural, suburban, and urban areas, creating a progressive populist movement. Strengthening voter engagement in rural areas is key. People’s Action and allies engaged 392,000 rural voters, electing progressives, and the report provides insights and case studies for future elections.

Adam Kruggel & Yair Ghitza
April 2019
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The Promise of a Progressive Populist Movement

Building a multiracial, race-conscious movement for bold change in rural and small-town America

People’s Action member organizations and our allies are launching an ambitious Rural and Small-Town Organizing Strategy in 72 counties in ten states across the Heartland, Rust Belt, Northeast and South. These conversations give us insight into what these community members are facing and what moves them to action, but this is not fully representative of the communities we surveyed and the respondents are, in general, older, whiter and poorer than the population of these counties as a whole.

Jessica Juarez-Scruggs & Adam Kruggel
April 2018
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Prosperity, Not Poverty

How Public Investment in Infrastructure Can Help Address Racial, Gender, and LGBTQI Wealth Gaps

This report highlights a disparity between living wages and the minimum wage in all U.S. states. Despite job growth post-Great Recession, most are low-wage jobs, exacerbating income inequality. Discrimination limits high-wage job access for women, people of color, and the LGBTQI community, worsening wealth gaps. A robust public infrastructure plan can address these disparities if appropriately executed.

Allyson Fredericksen
February 2017
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Waiting for the Payoff

How Low Wages and Student Debt Keep Prosperity Out of Reach

Despite education being heralded as an income gap solution, rising college costs and stagnant wages have strained finances. The People’s Action Institute shows that state and federal minimum wages don’t meet true living costs. In most states, the living wage surpasses $15/hr, with student debt pushing it further. Student debt impacts minority groups disproportionately, with low starting wages and underlying discrimination exacerbating repayment struggles.

Allyson Fredericksen
October 2016
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Caught In The Debt Trap

Stories of Payday and Car Title Loan Borrowers

This report shares personal experiences of those affected by payday and car-title loans, illustrating the debt cycle’s challenges. Like many in the U.S., they advocate for strict regulation of such loans due to their firsthand struggles.

Allyson Fredericksen
October 2016
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Dive into the Latest Podcasts from the People's Action Institute

Our podcasts highlight research and findings that advance our efforts toward social justice, promoting grassroots initiatives for building a more equitable future.

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To See Each Other

When we see each other, we’ll understand that we can never give up on each other.

A series that complicates the narrative about rural Americans in our most misunderstood, and often abandoned, communities. Host George Goehl – a leading grassroots organizer – travels to Michigan, Iowa, New Jersey, North Carolina and Indiana to reveal how small town folks are working together in fights for everything from clean water and racial justice to immigrant rights and climate change.

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The Next Move

Building the future we want in the ultimate moment for reorganizing

George Goehl digs in with some of the nation’s best organizers to answer a simple – and sometimes complicated – question: What is organizing? Getting the answer right matters, especially right now. So George talks with eight master organizers about their path, defining moments in their development, and what we most need to teach and practice as organizers.