Founded in 2012, Working Together Jackson is a non-partisan, broad-based organization that addresses issues facing the Jackson community. WTJ consists of more than 35 member institutions which cross racial, religious, and economic divisions, making it the most diverse organization in the city. Examples of our institutional members include: New Horizon Church International, the International Museum of Muslim Cultures, Beth Israel Congregation, Jackson Medical Mall Foundation, Stewpot Community Services, and Parents for Public Schools.
Together, WTJ institutions build the power needed to solve problems through a process that involves relationship-building, collaborative thinking, and strategic action. In essence, WTJ is vehicle for Jackson residents to get involved in local decision-making that impacts their families and the larger community.
WTJ is an affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation which is the oldest organizing network in the United States with a presence in 26 states.
- Jackson 500 Workforce Development Project: Working Together Jackson has established a partnership with Hinds Community College to develop a workforce strategy to train local residents toward a career path for living wage jobs with benefits. WTJ recruits and helps create the support base for participants while they are in training. Currently, there are over 300 students in the program with a retention rate of 94%. Within two years, graduates have moved from unemployment or minimum wage jobs to jobs ranging from $19 to $35 an hour. These efforts are helping build productive citizens while meeting the needs of employers and developing the tax base in Jackson.
- Public Accountability Sessions: In the municipal elections held four years ago, in the Special Mayoral Election held after the death of the late Mayor Chowke Lumumba, and during the last election cycle, WTJ met with every candidate for Mayor and Council and asked them to agree to run "clean" campaigns that focused solely on the issues and to also work with us on our agenda for rebuilding Jackson. Since Mayor Chowke Antar Lumumba took office in 2017, WTJ continues to meet regularly with him and solicit commitments to move forward our agenda of priorities.
- Blight Eradication and Neighborhood Revitalization: Recognizing the need for a source of funding to aid in renewing our neighborhoods, WTJ worked with the City of Jackson to establish the first affordable housing trust fund in the state. Last year, Working Together Jackson brought attention to the worst code violations in the city, which involved property owned by the Jackson State University Development Foundation. WTJ and its local member institutions worked with the Foundation, local and state officials, and Revitalize Mississippi to get these structures torn down. Through the work of WTJ members, Rosemont, New Horizon Church International, and Rising Sun Missionary Baptist Church, approximately 500 lots within several blocks of each other will be redeveloped for homeownership for families with low to moderate incomes in west and south Jackson.
- Infrastructure Redevelopment: WTJ worked with the City of Jackson, the Greater Jackson Partnership to pass the city's 1% infrastructure sales tax. With a two-week window for Get Out the Vote Work, WTJ produced over 2,000 "yes" votes, 20% of the total vote. WTJ has held public accountability sessions on the progress of this work and has compelled the City to publicly and clearly lay out the progress and future plans.
- Rebuilding Support for Jackson Public Schools: WTJ is working with the JPS Board of Trustees, the Interim-Superintendent, the Better Together Commission, and a broad group of stakeholders across the city, including business leaders, to build a for rebuilding JPS. During the spring of 2017, WTJ conducted Education, Listening, and Visioning Sessions across the city to gather input from community members regarding how to move JPS forward. Over 300 institutional leaders participated in these sessions. A comprehensive report was presented to the Better Together Commission for consideration in the process of determining the needs of JPS. Importantly, WTJ recently raised the funds for a new education organizer who oversees our long-term strategy for organizing in schools starting in West Jackson.
- Food Deserts: Working Together Jackson has worked with our member, Hope Enterprise Corporation, and local public officials to address the problem of access to quality food in Jackson's neighborhoods. The recent opening of the Jackson Cash & Carry Store in the old Kroger building is a part of our work. We are currently partnering with the City of Jackson, Hinds County and the American Heart Association and local businesses to build support for a Fresh Food Finance Initiative in Jackson, Hinds County, and throughout the state of Mississippi.
- Public Safety, Criminal Justice Reform and Gun Violence: Working Together Jackson is developing work in this area, and we are asking that the Mayor and Council engage us with the police department in developing strategies to face the issues of public safety necessary for the rebuilding of Jackson.
- Disability Rights and Transportation Issues: Working Together Jackson supports the work of the Disability Rights Community to gain full compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in Jackson. WTJ is working with the City of Jackson towards improving the public transit system for all Jacksonians, giving particular consideration to those among us who rely on JATRAN for mobility.
- Civil Campaigns: Working Together Jackson believes that our political climate of hyper-partisanship and personal attack is doing serious damage to the political participation and civic engagement. We call on leaders to engage in more civil discourse and seek common ground.