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PICO, the national community organizing network, began as the Pacific Institute for Community Organizations. In 2004, it changed its name to People Improving Communities through Organizing to reflect its national reach. Today, PICO and its affiliates raise $40–50 million a year, which supports the work of 44 affiliated federations working in 150 cities and towns in 19 states plus the District of Columbia. Affiliates organize around a host of issues including police reform, disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline, eliminating food deserts, raising the minimum wage, as well as campaigns centered on job creation, affordable housing, combating racism, and immigrant rights.

Scott Reed joined PICO in 1977, but Reed began to take steps along the path to becoming a community organizer while still in high school. “I am a product of the 1960s, when this country was undergoing a lot of social convulsions,” Reed recalls. “My awakening happened in 1968. I was politically active in high school. I was following Thomas Merton and Robert Kennedy. That year, Kennedy was killed, Merton died, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed, the Democratic convention happened in Chicago, and I was living in Chicago.”

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