Our focus is on building power

Universal’s 5-year strategic priority is to build power for health justice. This struggle is linked with work on social and economic justice – as health cannot be sustained without decent housing, healthy food, nurturing communities, good jobs that pay living wages, a clean environment, and opportunities to thrive. 

Racial justice is core to our work, as the inequities in health and health care are rooted in a deep history of racism. The voices and perspectives of Black and Brown-led organizations are pivotal to building a path to justice.

We are committed to building partnerships with diverse organizations engaged in organizing for justice, as we believe that the key to making change is to build sustained power. Power can break the hold that self-serving interests have on our lawmakers and build a path to equity.

Our partnerships

Organizing to build power is the focus of our funded partnerships over the next 5 years.  

This year, Universal is working with 18 partner organizations in a dynamic learning-for-action process, Organizing a Path to Power. The partners are working together to define what real power for justice looks like, how to sustain it over time, and what it will take to build it.  

2022 Organizing a Path to Power Partners

These 18 partners bring deep and diverse experience to the work of building and sustaining power. 

Organizing Partners

Make the Road Connecticut is an immigrant-led (mostly Latinx) membership organization doing work in the Bridgeport and Hartford areas on a variety of issues important to their base.

Connecticut Students for a Dream is a statewide undocumented immigrant youth-led organization that fights for immigrant justice and has a history of youth development, youth leadership and youth organizing.

CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs is a statewide organization working on environmental justice and creating climate-friendly jobs.  

Center for Leadership and Justice (formerly Christian Activities Council) works in the Greater Hartford area. They do both neighborhood-based community organizing and regional faith-based organizing and work on diverse issues.

Connecticut Black and Brown Student Union is a statewide hub for youth organizing groups working on issues such as replacing police in public schools with support resources for students.

The Full Citizens Coalition runs the statewide Unlock the Vote campaign, which focuses on educating people formerly incarcerated about their voting rights, helping them restore their voting rights, and pushing for changes to law to expand voting rights.

CT Cross Disability Lifespan Alliance is a statewide coalition of people with varying types of disabilities working for justice for their community.  

Keep the Promise Coalition a statewide group formed by people living with mental illness, family members, providers, and other advocates in response to the state’s ‘broken promise’ to invest in community mental health services and supports.

Mothers and Others for Justice is a group of New Haven residents and is a part of Christian Community Action. They work on a variety of issues that affect low-income people, including health care.

Bridgeport Generation Now is a Bridgeport-based social action network working on good governance, justice and equity, democratic empowerment, and livability.  4

Katal Center for Health, Equity and Justice focuses on organizing for carceral system changes in Connecticut and New York – and has great depth in training and development of organizers.

A Better Way Foundation has previously worked in the criminal justice space, supporting organizing groups. They serve as a fiscal sponsor for organizing groups and a support resource for organizing groups across issue areas.

Advocacy Partners

Connecticut Citizen Research Group is the 501(c)3 arm of Connecticut Citizen Action Group, with a 50-year history of organizing and advocacy on a variety of issues, including health care, democracy, environmental justice, tax equity, and more.  
Health Equity Solutions (HES) is a dynamic statewide organization leading advocacy efforts to move the needle on health equity in the state with an anti-racist lens.

New Haven Pride Center is an organization serving LGBTQIA+ people and advocates for the rights of this community.

Ministerial Health Fellowship is a faith-based health care advocacy network based in Connecticut Black churches working to address systemic barriers to access to care.

T1 International – CT Chapter is the state chapter of an organization led by people with Type 1 diabetes fighting for issues important to diabetics, including access to affordable life-saving insulin. 

Open Communities Alliance is a Connecticut-based civil rights organization that promotes access to opportunity for all people. The Alliance is building an urban-suburban interracial coalition to support policies that lead to housing choice.


Our Grantmaking Process

Our primary focus is on grant funding that builds power for health, racial, social and economic justice through organizing. Universal makes funding decisions at different points throughout the year that support implementation of its strategic priorities. We most often work in partnership with our funded partners. We do not accept unsolicited proposals. 

If you are interested in talking about grant funding with us, please contact Rabera Sharon, Program Lead for Health Justice & Organizing at: [email protected]