Stono Public Affairs’ mission and social consciousness compel the firm and its principals to advocate passionately for issues that align with their values, such as healthcare reform, environmental sustainability, and education equity. We devote our time, resources, expertise, and relationships to drive positive change, shape public policy, and have a meaningful, positive impact on society.

Preachers for Progress

The Problem

Black policymakers currently face the dilemma of either allowing the perpetuation of the damaging effects of prison expansion and mass incarceration or antagonizing a well-organized pro-law enforcement lobby.

Opponents of criminal justice reform and those that profit from existing monetized justice systems are incredibly well-funded and politically active. They consistently try to drive a wedge between policymakers, citizens, and those most impacted by a failing criminal justice system. This wedge is often cloaked in “get tough on crime” messaging that implores constituents to call for more police presence, calls on lawmakers to extend harsher sentencing, increases fines and penalties, and expands monitoring of citizens accused or convicted of a crime, all with little concern for the lasting long-term effects these policies have on the larger community.

Despite the mountain of evidence that has emerged in recent years demonstrating the ineffectiveness of prison expansion and mass incarceration, as well as the uneven impact of these policies on communities of color, these calls persist. Meanwhile, the people who are most directly impacted by the lack of reform are so preoccupied with day-to-day challenges that they rarely have time to engage around potential legislative changes until it is too late.

In order to achieve meaningful reform in response to prison expansion and mass incarceration rates that resemble Jim Crow-era segregation and social control, a well-equipped and well-financed opposition must be organized.

The SoluTion

Black clergy play a critical role as an arbiter of the ultimate impact of legislation, policy, and political decisions for the African-American community. The Black church, and Black preachers in general, have been at the center of the nation’s most critical public policy initiatives since its inception. Pastors and preachers remain some of the most trusted messengers in America, able to alert and mobilize one of our country’s most impactful constituencies around issues of critical importance. However, critical information about legislation and policies which disproportionately affect and harm Black communities are not reaching them, and thus not being relayed to parishioners. This places the criminal justice reform movement at a significant disadvantage, because affected people are not activated in a coordinated fashion, which in turn prevents their diverse voices and perspectives from being heard by policymakers. We propose to use their voices to drive effective, impactful change.

Stono proposes to facilitate this change through a new Pastors for Progress initiative. This effort will begin with a focus on New Jersey bail reform and expand and evolve to the many aspects of criminal justice reform that ultimately must be addressed to achieve true equality and justice in our nation. We will organize and empower a network of Black clergy leaders with a communications strategy that will create a strong, unified demand for effective, data-driven criminal justice reform.

The proposed initiative will help level the messaging playing field.

Bridging Healthcare Divides

The Problem

Healthcare inequities continue to plague our nation, choking our minority communities and exacerbating existing disparities. For too long, these disparities have gone unaddressed, leaving marginalized populations with the damaging consequences of a deeply unequal healthcare system.

Minority communities face a dilemma – they must navigate a healthcare landscape where access to quality care is often limited or nonexistent, and systemic biases persist. These issues are further compounded by the significant disparities in healthcare funding and resources. The lack of diversity and inclusivity in the healthcare industry leads to unequal treatment and poorer outcomes for minority patients.

Despite the dire consequences of healthcare inequities, opponents of healthcare reform continue to actively resist any measures that seek to bring fairness and equality to the system.. Minority communities, burdened with daily challenges related to healthcare access and affordability, find it nearly impossible to engage with government, companies and organizations that can truly effect change.

The SoluTion

A critical solution to combating healthcare inequities actually lies within the minority community, and building partnerships directly with leaders in the industry. These individuals are uniquely positioned to serve as messengers and advocates for change within their communities. However, vital information about healthcare issues often fails to reach these trusted figures, preventing them from effectively conveying the urgency of change to their communities. This communication breakdown undermines the healthcare equity movement and hinders the coordination of diverse voices and perspectives that could drive policy change.

To address this issue, we focus on connecting and empowering influencers and those affected with the knowledge, resources, and support needed to advocate for equitable healthcare policies and practices. This not only bridges the information gap but also levels the playing field by ensuring that the voices of minority healthcare leaders are heard by policymakers. By creating a unified demand for healthcare equity and creating direct outposts for advocacy from within the communities most affected, we can begin to address the systemic issues that have long perpetuated healthcare disparities in America. Through this coordinated effort, we aim to achieve true healthcare equality and justice, ensuring that every individual, regardless of their background, has equal access to quality healthcare.