VOAN was formed in 2014 to provide a vehicle for community organizing focused on addressing various root causes of poverty. VOAN develops the leadership of Ohioans experiencing poverty and marginalization so they can organize themselves and their communities for civic engagement, movement building, and coming to the table with policymakers on issues that directly impact their lives.
We build collaborative organizing projects. Our Think Tanks on Poverty operate across Central Ohio and address systemic issues that are priorities for our members experiencing poverty at the local level, such as criminal justice reform, living wage employment, access to mental health and addiction services, access to transportation, broadband internet and housing. Read more about the Think Tanks on Poverty here.
Criminal Justice Reform - VOAN actively builds up the leadership and voices Ohioans impacted by incarceration and the criminal justice system to help bring change. We are active in coalition building efforts to help end mass incarceration, bring formerly incarcerated and impacted families to the table where change is made, and to work towards a more humane and restorative approach to criminal justice in Ohio. We organized ongoing meetings under the umbrella of "Restored Citizens and Communities for Change" in Columbus for a number of years, engaging stakeholders from throughout the area and in 2016 helped to launch ARCH (Accompanying Returning Citizens with Hope). We continue to hold educational events, engage policymakers, participate in coalitions, and provide training and activation within our networks on criminal justice reform and improving reentry.
"Accompanying Returning Citizens with Hope (ARCH)" is a collaboration between VOAN, the Diocesan Office for Social Concerns, and the Catholic Foundation. ARCH is focused on raising awareness about the criminal justice system, equipping and mobilizing volunteers to accompany people returning from incarceration, assisting families of the incarcerated, identifying and expanding the network of business leaders willing to hire those with criminal records, and raising awareness in the community about incarceration and reentry in Ohio. ARCH also is involved with advocacy on public policy issues pertaining to criminal justice and reentry issues. (Multi-County)