Our History

Before we became Movement Alliance Project, we were Media Mobilizing Project.

Many of Media Mobilizing Project’s founders came out of the welfare and homeless people’s organizing of the 1990s. Guided by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Poor People’s Campaign 40 years earlier, it was clear to MMP founders that nothing less than “a radical revolution of values” could bring about the change we would need.

Media Mobilizing Project was founded in 2005, when online video and social media were in their infancy. Inspired by the Zapatistas – a movement that organizes for justice for rural peasants in southern Mexico – and their call for an independent media, Media Mobilizing Project founders participated in the development of the Global Indymedia Network, building our own media in the hope of connecting mass social movements.

In those early years, our work was defined by organizing campaigns to stop gentrification and displacement win improved working conditions for service workers, gain citizenship for undocumented immigrants and obtain quality public schools for all. With a video camera in hand and a vision in heart, Media Mobilizing Project organized as both an intervention into the incomplete stories told about our communities and an invitation to build a network of community organizations working toward a shared vision of a more just world for us all.

back of shirt reads movments begin with the telling of untold stories

Because “movements begin with the telling of untold stories”, Media Mobilizing Project documented and shared stories to connect movement leaders from organizations and communities across Philadelphia and beyond. MMP also trained those most impacted by our society’s failings to create their own media about their lives and struggles for justice.

From 2007 to 2011, early projects like Hope in Hard Times documented parents organizing to maintain Head Start, Driving the American Dream showed the struggle of taxi drivers squeezed by the industry, and the public access television show MMPtv highlighted the organizing of the day and the leaders of our movements. We were succeeding at documenting Philadelphia’s organizing campaigns and connecting leaders, but we realized our stories not only needed to be told, they needed to be heard.

Access to the media and the internet stood out as a core issue in sharing untold stories and connecting communities. 

sunlight breaks through an image of people marching in the street

In 2011, Media Mobilizing Project led its first campaigns to define access to the internet as a human right. Media Mobilizing Project helped develop a citywide effort to invest stimulus money from the Great Recession into public computer centers and media literacy. Later, we turned our eyes to Comcast and pushed for corporate accountability in Comcast’s 2015 franchise agreement with Philadelphia.

From this foundation our work expanded. Media Mobilizing Project began to incubate new organizing projects, and new coalitions and campaigns formed from the stories Media Mobilizing Project told.

Around 2013,  Media Mobilizing Project started to become a hub, beyond its original projects and tactics, able to support critical victories in our communities: we unseated Governor Corbett, whose legacy included massive cuts to education, we ended the state takeover of Philadelphia schools, and we campaigned both for a district attorney who would work to end mass incarceration and for a city council with leaders who would fight for justice.

In 2020, we are changing our name to reflect the whole of our work: introducing Movement Alliance Project.

Now, MAP continues to connect communities and build power for working families. We run strategic campaigns, lift up untold stories, and build infrastructure for the most vibrant community organizations in Philadelphia and around the country to win lasting power and a just society.

Staff

  • All
  • Admin
  • Directors
  • Policy
  • Story
All
  • All
  • Admin
  • Directors
  • Policy
  • Story
IMG_0140 AdminDirectors

Bryan Mercer

Executive Director

As the Executive Director, Bryan helps lead the team with strategic visioning. Bryan’s work reaches across all sections of Movement Alliance Project. Over the past 11 years on staff, Bryan has led a number of projects to connect and amplify the work of community organizations, develop community leaders, and advance economic, racial, and media justice.

Full Bio →
Photo of Clarise McCants DirectorsStory

Clarise McCants

Story Director

Clarise McCants heads the Story Team at MAP and helps lead our work building narrative power that strengthens communities’ ability to make lasting change. This includes supporting our campaigns and coalition work with narrative strategy, powerful content creation, and amplification.

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Devren Washington headshot Policy

Devren Washington

Senior Policy Organizer

Devren’s work focuses on digital justice and the ways technology intersects with race, gender and class. Devren works with directly-impacted communities to increase internet and technology access, as well as to monitor and combat invasive surveillance technology. Devren leads Philly Tech Justice, a coalition dedicated to ending the digital divide and achieving tech equity.

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hannah DirectorsPolicy

Hannah Sassaman

Policy Director

Hannah heads the policy team at Movement Alliance Project. Hannah is a nationally recognized organizer and strategist at the intersection of race, technology, and inequality. During her time at MAP, Hannah led the CAP Comcast Campaign, helped build national community coalitions resisting automated decision-making in criminal justice, and co-launched the Coalition for a Justice District Attorney.

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HelyxChaseScearceHorwitz AdminStory

Helyx Chase Scearce Horwitz

Information Systems and Technology Manager

Helyx heads up Movement Alliance Project’s technology and information systems. This includes assisting with video production, implementing new technology tools, and ensuring that Movement Alliance Project’s work is secure and available to the communities who need access. Most recently, Helyx developed the People’s Media Record, an archive of Movement Alliance Project’s video footage from the past 15 years.

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jacob2 AdminDirectors

Jacob Winterstein

Director of Operations

Jacob works to ensure that our internal structures and processes support our staff, support our mission and strengthen our work. Jacob also coordinates our sponsored projects program and leads Movement Alliance Project’s grassroots fundraising.

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jenessa Policy

Jenessa Irvine

Policy and Research Organizer

Jenessa’s work focuses on algorithmic accountability and supporting the MAP team with in-depth policy research. She also helps coordinate work in coalitions, including the #No215Jail coalition, Our City Our Schools, and the Alliance for a Just Philadelphia. She led the effort to build Mapping Pretrial Injustice, a database tracking pretrial risk assessment usage across the United States.

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Mariam Story

Mariam Dembele

Communications Coordinator

Mariam develops, documents and amplifies our campaigns using communication tools. This work includes strategic digital organizing, powerful storytelling, and real-time action documentation. Mariam also leads Philly We Rise, a media hub connecting the social justice movement in Philadelphia.

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Headshot of Shari Bolar-Martray Story

Shari Bolar-Martray

Digital Content Manager

As the Digital Content Manager, Shari supports Movement Alliance Project’s work to enhance engagement on our online platforms and develops strategic digital content to support online organizing and campaigns.

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IMG_20190621_102644 (1) Policy

Sophie Song

National Organizer of the People’s Algorithmic Power Project

Sophie Song is a national organizer at Movement Alliance Project that focuses on injustices relating to algorithms and automated decision making. This work currently focuses on how predictive analytics impacts the family regulation system, and on building power with those impacted by the harms of this system to fight to end family regulation.

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zoraida_0 Admin

Zoraida Ossa

Office Manager

Zoraida bottom lines the Movement Alliance Project team’s administration needs. This includes ensuring that Movement Alliance Project and its sponsored organizations are financially sound, as well as assisting with hiring and onboarding.

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Board

Todd Wolfson – President

Shivaani Selvaraj – Secretary

Sam Reed – Treasurer

Isaac Amendu Evans

Yessenia Gutierrez

Renee Koubiadis

David Love

Jamila Medley

Koby Murphy

Erika Owens

Chris Willis

Funders

Movement Alliance Project is supported by our grassroots donors and these institutions:

 

The Philadelphia Foundation
The Philadelphia Cultural Fund
Open Society Foundations
Open Philanthropy Project Logo
Media Democracy Fund
Independence Public Media Foundation
Ford Foundation
Dodge Foundation

Press

Activists call on Comcast to expand free internet as Philly virtual school continues

“Comcast is the digital divide,” said Devren Washington, organizer with the Media Mobilizing Project. “We are demanding that Comcast get our students online so that they can receive their education.”

Why the Black Lives Matter movement doesn’t want a singular leader

“We don’t need someone in the Senate or House to try to build their political career off of this moment,” said Bryan Mercer, executive director of the Philadelphia-based social justice organization Movement Alliance Project.

Philly Tech Justice is fighting for free internet access and against police surveillance

Washington said facial recognition technology is more detrimental to Black and Brown communities since it is more inaccurate in recognizing their faces than those of their white counterparts. For protesters of color, the need for masks to help reduce COVID-19 infections may also be important in protecting them from facial recognition.

Kids need to go to school online. Why isn’t the internet a public utility? – WHYY

Philly deserves more than charity from Comcast. We deserve real change. As Council urgently discusses our city budget, they should fund and support online resources for our kids, but also push our hometown Fortune 500 company to do what Dr. Hite asked: support our families at this time of crisis. We hope Comcast can make this commitment to its hometown, and to every city they serve, today.

Parking Lots Have Become a Digital Lifeline – NY Times

“In a city like Philadelphia, you can’t expect people to socially distance in a parking lot,” said Devren Washington, a senior policy director at the Movement Alliance Project. “You can’t expect some students to be sitting in a parking lot doing their schoolwork while others are in a much better position at home.”

New Data Suggests Risk Assessment Tools have Little Impact on Pretrial Incarceration – The Appeal

“A first-of-its-kind database and report documenting the use of risk assessment tools shows little evidence that the tools are leading to reductions in pretrial incarceration rates or eliminating racial disparities in pretrial release decisions. The organizations behind the work, Media Mobilizing Project and MediaJustice, collected data on risk assessment tools from jurisdictions in 46 states, plus the District of Columbia, encompassing more than 1,000 counties across the United States.”

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