2019 Annual Report

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Letter from Catherine Bracy, our Executive Director

One dark winter night two years ago, I was sitting in a conference room at Google’s San Francisco office with a handful of TechEquity’s earliest members. We were trying to puzzle out why there weren’t many policy ideas that would strengthen tenant protections without potentially stunting new housing production.

The status quo obviously wasn’t working, and the only proposal that had any traction—to repeal the state’s ban on expanded local rent control ordinances—not only wouldn’t extend any immediate protections to renters, it seemed dead on arrival. How was it possible that in the middle of a displacement and homelessness crisis there wasn’t a wealth of ideas? Was there a way for us to help?

That conversation lead us to a partnership with the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley, where we helped flesh out an idea that later morphed into the Tenant Protection Act of 2019. We ultimately co-sponsored that bill, alongside long-time tenant advocates and experts at PolicyLink, ACCE, Public Advocates, PICO California and the Western Center on Law and Poverty. We brought tech to the table to help get the bill passed, and when Governor Newsom signed it in October it became the most meaningful tenant protection legislation in American history.

In 2019, more than two years after that initial meeting, our community of tech workers built the Tenant Protections Tool to provide resources so California renters can find out whether the new law applies to them and access legal resources they can use to enforce their rights.

2019 was a story of proving the model that tech workers (and their employers) will show up if we give them concrete opportunities to participate. Now, 2020 is a year for us to double down on that work.

The story of our work on the Tenant Protection Act encapsulates what I hoped TechEquity would become when I founded it in 2017. I wanted to create a vehicle to advance and implement equitable public policy faster by bringing tech to the table, and by doing so, meaningfully connect the tech community to our neighbors in order to heal the “us versus them” civic dynamic that dominated the Bay Area.

2019 was a story of proving the model that tech workers (and their employers) will show up if we give them concrete opportunities to participate. Now, 2020 is a year for us to double down on that work.

2020 won’t just be a big year for the country and for California, it will be a milestone year for TechEquity as well. We’re on the front lines of the biggest ballot fight in California in a generation, to reform Prop 13 and recoup $12 billion each year for our communities; we’re taking on even more statewide housing legislation; we’re ramping up our workforce & labor agenda with our responsible contracting and System Reset initiatives; and we’re expanding our corporate partnership program so tech companies can come to the table too.

If you believe that the tech community can be a force for good in this place we call home, we hope you’ll join us.

 

Who We Are

We envision a world where a growing tech-driven economy creates opportunity for everyone, and where tech-sector employees and companies are engaged and active participants in making our communities better places to live. Our mission is to build a movement of tech workers and companies that will advance this vision.

WHAT WE DO

Educate

tech workers about the most critical civic issues where they live, with a focus on housing and workforce & labor.

Activate

tech workers on a policy advocacy agenda that results in a more inclusive economy in their communities.

Connect

tech workers on a personal level to the places they live and the people who live there.

We believe a more engaged tech sector is a more ethical tech sector, and that immersing tech workers in the most critical issues where they live results in a healthier economy for everyone.

OUR IMPACT IN 2019

7,500+
8
$233,770
60
1

EDUCATION

We brought together more than 1,400 tech workers and community members across more than 50 events this year.
Tech workers joined us in person at panel discussions, tuned into informational webinars, put their heads together at member meetups, and connected with like-minded workers and community members at social functions.

TechEquity has helped make me more aware of both the root causes of the inequality issues plaguing the Bay Area (e.g., Prop 13), as well as current legislative efforts to improve the situation. The events I’ve been to are non-partisan and educational, so I don’t feel judged for not being as deep in my understanding of policy.”
As a result, I’m probably better informed on local and state issues now than I ever was before, which is especially important with an election coming up next year.

– Steven Liu, Tech Worker and TechEquity Member

TechEquity has been a vital ally in the tech sector. The Tenant Protection Act of 2019 was successful in large part because of the broad coalition fighting for it, and TechEquity was essential in bringing new voices to the fight for renters’ rights.

- David Chiu, CA Assemblymember, D17

ACTIVATION

We Passed the Broadest Renter Protections in the Country

We mobilized tech workers to help pass the Tenant Protection Act of 2019, the largest tenant protection expansion law in the country. We worked in coalition with community partners across the state, bringing tech workers’ civic power to legislative calls, lobbying visits, and hearing testimonies.
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We Launched our Responsible Contracting Project

TechEquity Collaborative and Silicon Valley Rising launched our Responsible Contracting Project, which will provide a standard for high-quality service jobs on tech campuses. We are working to get tech companies to adopt it and enforce it with their vendors.
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We Gathered Signatures for Historic Tax Reform

In coalition with equity and justice orgs across the country. we collected signatures to submit the Schools and Communities First Act to the November 2020 ballot. When passed, we’ll have closed corporate tax loopholes and bring $12 billion back to our schools and communities.
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We Kicked Off the Fight for Fair Chance to Housing

Our amazing civic tech volunteers created a website and branding for the Fair Chance to Housing in Alameda County Campaign, creating a digital footprint for the campaign to ensure that formerly incarcerated people in Oakland, Berkeley, Emeryville, and all of Alameda County can have a fair chance to housing.
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We Paved Pathways to Tech Jobs

We continued our work in System Reset with San Francisco Human Rights Commission, community organizations, and tech companies to create on-ramps to tech jobs for formerly incarcerated people.
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As a community organizer and activist, I know it’s important to have the right allies backing your work. TechEquity has been an amazing partner in the Fair Chance to Housing campaign; I’m grateful for their advocacy and support as we fight to give system-impacted families a fair chance to access housing.

- John Jones III, Director of Community and Political Engagement at Just Cities

CONNECTION

We Supported Local Businesses

To kick off our civic tech projects, our civic tech volunteers redesigned the website for Oakland Indie Alliance, a community of more than 200 small-scale entrepreneurs committed to preserving Oakland’s variety, energy, and social fabric.
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We Empowered California Renters

After the passage of the Tenant Protection Act, we knew the law was only as powerful as the tenants who know their rights. In partnership with ACCE and Code for San Francisco, we built the Tenant Protections Tool, which informs renters of their rights and connects them with tenant advocates.
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As a volunteer for their civic tech project for the Oakland Indie Alliance, it’s been really cool to be able to meet the people running the small businesses in Oakland. I’ve been able to learn more about their point of view on what Oakland means to them and what parts they want to hold onto.

- Kevin Lee, TechEquity Civic Tech Volunteer and Member

CORPORATE PARTNERSHIPS

We Deepened Corporate Civic Participation

While rank-and-file tech workers are our key agents of change, we also believe in affecting systemic change by engaging tech companies in their communities.

We Deepened Corporate Civic Participation

While rank-and-file tech workers are our key agents of change, we also believe in affecting systemic change by engaging tech companies in their communities.

We Expanded Our Partnerships

We collaborated with seven other companies to further our mission of building more equity in the Bay: Pantheon, Waymo, GitHub, Twilio, the Kapor Center, Postmates, and Facebook. We held events at an additional 29 companies to engage their employees in our work. We advised on local and state policy issues, educated workers about Schools and Communities First, and connected workers with their own backyards through neighborhood walking tours.

WHAT’S ON TAP FOR 2020

Schools and Communities First

We’re gearing up for a big fight on the ballot to close a corporate tax loophole, bringing $12 billion back to our local schools and communities. We’re working in coalition with organizations across California to win in the November election.
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Fair Chance to Housing

We’re working with Just Cities to ensure that formerly incarcerated people in Oakland, Berkeley, Emeryville, and all of Alameda County can have a fair chance to housing.
LEARN MORE

Responsible Contracting

We’re gathering data to understand the contracting landscape on tech campuses. In 2020 we’ll unveil the Responsible Contracting standard and implement it in tech companies around the Bay.
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System Reset

We’re ramping our System Reset work in 2020. We’re learning from community organizations that have been uplifting formerly incarcerated people for years, and connecting with tech companies to implement more equitable hiring practices. We’re building an implementation guide for HR professionals to take the leap to hire formerly incarcerated people.
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Thank you for being with us in 2019; we really couldn’t do it without you.
To support our efforts in 2020 and beyond, please become a member or donate here.