Freedom To Thrive’s mission is to abolish the punishment-based carceral systems through transformative organizing, strategic partnerships and convening shared learning spaces. Our work centers around combating crimmigration– the intersection of criminal-legal and immigration enforcement– using a Pro Black, gender-affirming lens.
Our vision of change is grounded in collaborative partnerships and network organizing. We are intentional about supporting the capacity of groups on the ground to create change, while connecting them to national partnerships that unify and advance the work. We believe in strategic campaigning, shared learning and relationship-building across races and genders, and investing in the healing and leadership of communities most impacted by criminalization. We are organizing for a world where Black and brown communities are safe and can thrive, and have resources to build from along with relationships rooted in mutual dignity. And we believe that we will win.
At Freedom to Thrive, we practice the movement we are building. This means:
- Investing in Black leadership and Black liberation
- Supporting leadership of youth, women, and gender non-conforming people
- Generating collective healing and wellness
- Practicing transformative solutions to harm
- Caring for all of our communities, leaving no one behind
- Building in collaboration not competition
- Practicing accountability to each other and our principles
Freedom to Thrive’s Pro-Black Organizing Principles:
- Black people are decision-makers in the systems, processes and practices that lead and sustain their lives
- Acknowledging past and current racial inequities and providing people most impacted by anti Black racism the infrastructure and resources needed to thrive
- Black people are valued and recognized in naming their reality, describing how systems of oppression impact their lives and developing solutions that center their leadership needs and heal anti Black violence
- Individuals, organizations and systems are committed to abolishing white supremacy by addressing the legal, political, social, cultural, economic and historical contributions to anti Blackness
- Abolishing prisons, police forces, military forces, immigration enforcement, border patrol and any government or non-government entity terrorizing Black people and communities
- Black people experiencing joy that reverberates through generations
- Black people embodying Black love for ourselves, each other, and our communities
Freedom To Thrive is a national organization that engages in strategic partnerships and coalitions to advance the decriminalization of our communities.
Together with partners and allies we engage in long-term movement building across races and sectors, building trust and collaboration, and bringing down the walls that prevent us from addressing the root causes of harm we experience.
Our work is led and informed by people directly impacted by the immigration or prison system, who have been, or have had loved ones, deported or locked up. Their experience with crimmigration is also impacted by the intersections of race, gender, housing, education, and labor. As we work to address anti-Black racism and create gender-affirming spaces, we center those whose lived experiences place them at the forefront of the systems we are working to dismantle.
Our organization began in response to NAFTA. It was founded by Peter Cervantes-Gautschi and a binational leadership committee of visionary leaders, originally under the name Enlace, which means “link” in Spanish.
In 1998, Peter brought together dozens of worker-based organizations from Mexico and the United States for a week of strategic brainstorming about the major obstacles preventing wins for low-wage workers. It was from that convening that Enlace was born.
Enlace trained hundreds of workers in organizing strategy and strengthening internal systems for small organizations to sustain long-term campaigns, and win, against seemingly unwinnable targets: transnational corporations.
After 10 years, we shifted our focus into Crimmigration– the intersection between criminal injustice and immigration enforcement. In 2011, Enlace launched the Prison Industry Divestment Campaign to take on one of the largest barriers to worker organizing: the prison and detention system that criminalizes, incarcerates and deports working people of color.
The Prison Industry Divestment campaign grew to be one of the most prominent national campaigns uniting Black and brown communities against criminalization. Our years of organizing and capacity building resulted in the divestment of more than $5 billion dollars from the private prison industry.
In 2018 we changed our organization name to Freedom to Thrive, reflecting our vision of a world where our communities are self-determined, free, joyful and dignified.
Much of our work over time has consisted of a qualitative transformation that involved transitions, reframing, and new learnings. We evolved from being a Latinx organization, to promoting Black and brown unity, to addressing anti-Blackness, to becoming an explicitly Pro Black organization.