Alabama Arise is the 501(c)(4) lobbying arm of Arise Citizens’ Policy Project (ACPP), a left-of-center think tank focusing on Alabama state policy. Alabama Arise commonly takes left-of-center stances on legislation that affect taxes, welfare programs, and the criminal justice system. Many left-leaning groups are Alabama Arise members, including the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP, American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Alabama Arise was founded in 1988, while its sister organization ACPP was founded in 1994. Kimble Forrister served as the executive director from the organization’s founding until 2018. During his time both ACPP and Alabama Arise “tripled the number of member groups, as well as adding nearly 1,000 more members.” In 2006, Alabama Arise had two major policy priorities become law: stronger rights for renters and increase in the state income tax threshold (the amount at which taxpayers start to pay income tax) from $4,600 to $12,600.
Alabama Arise takes left-of-center stances on a large range of issues affecting low-income Alabamians. The organization announced that it has seven main priorities for 2019: shifting the state tax burden, increasing welfare spending, expanding public transportation, restricting non-bank financial options, automatic voter registration, reforming criminal justice, and a moratorium on the death penalty. Alabama Arise has vocally supported left-wing policies such as raising property taxes to increase Medicaid funding, opposed a work requirement for Medicaid, favored ending the death penalty, and demanded an increased minimum wage.’’ One bill Alabama Arise supported was SB390 (2018) which would end sales taxes on groceries and over-the-counter drugs and limited the deduction for federal taxes. This would mean a tax hike for those already paying the most to the federal government.
Alabama Arise’s annual revenue of $89,232 is small in caparison to its sister organization ACPP’s revenue of $854,503.’ Almost none of the member dues fund ACPP, but rather are used as the main funding source for Alabama Arise. Over two-thirds of the organization’s funding came from member dues. Over 79 percent of Alabama Arise’s $72,815 of expenditures were spent on employee compensation.
Connections to Other Left-Leaning Groups
Alabama Arise is closely connected to left leaning groups. Its member rolls include the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice, Alabama Institute for Social Justice, Alabama State Conference of the NAACP, American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, and Southern Poverty Law Center. Bernard Simelton is the President of the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP and sits on the board of directors for Alabama Arise. Another board member, Sara Wood, works for the Economic Justice Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center. Stephen Stenson, after working on electricity rates as a policy analyst for Alabama Arise, now works for the Sierra Club “Beyond Coal” campaign.
ACPP participated in the Collaborations that Count initiative of the left-wing Ford Foundation in the early 2000s. ACPP received more funding than its peers in the program, which other organizations saw as an issue.