The Washington Bureau

The National Urban League has had a formal presence in the U.S. Capitol for more than 50 years, advancing policies that protect and expand civil rights for more than 50 years. The “Washington Office” as it was first known, was charged with building a direct relationship with the federal government in the interest of protecting and expanding civil rights for all Americans. From its inception, the Office worked to ensure the Urban League had a voice in the legislative process, educating and advising lawmakers on the challenges and injustices facing urban America.   

Today, The Washington Bureau, as it is now known, focuses on policy and advocacy goals grounded in the local program experiences of the Urban League’s more than 90 affiliates throughout the U.S. Informed by this on-the-ground, real-world perspective, the Bureau is uniquely qualified to lead policy discussions that directly impact the capacity of urban communities to grow and prosper. Through its D.C. presence, the Urban League pushes for greater resources and more effective policies to advance economic and social equality.

In 2016, The Washington Bureau launched an advocacy division tasked with building stronger relationships between the Urban League Affiliate Movement and members of Congress. Initiatives such as the development of a Certification in Advocacy Program, a Congressional Advocacy & Voter Toolkit, and an Advocacy and Empowerment Council, propelled a more effective advocate movement both at the local level and on the Hill.

In recent years, The Washington Bureau has become the hub of the Urban League’s civic engagement activities and a powerful platform for advocacy. For example, the concerted, increasingly aggressive campaign to undermine voting in poor and minority communities prompted the launch of two voter registration/education initiatives - Project Advocate in 2012, and Occupy the Vote in 2014. To capitalize on the critical 2018 midterm elections, the Bureau launched the Enough is Enough. Vote! campaign, which emphasized the importance of full participation in the democratic process.

The health of America’s urban communities is a recurring theme as policymakers debate how to restore America’s economic vitality in the face of a diminishing federal role in promoting and creating economic opportunity. Consequently, it is increasingly clear that any meaningful course of action must include input from private enterprise.

In January 2013, The Washington Bureau created the Urban Solutions Advisory Council to develop policy platforms that create sustainable economic opportunities.  Comprised of corporate representatives from a variety of industries, the Council meets regularly to generate forward-thinking ideas to drive urban development and invites thought leaders from academia, policy, media, CBOs, and the corporate arena to participate in panel discussions.

The need for community-based advocacy has become more urgent as state and local governments assert a more direct role in such critical issues as workforce development, healthcare, and education.

Each Spring, The Washington Bureau brings the Urban League movement to Capitol Hill for its annual Legislative Policy Conference (LPC). Part of the League’s State of Black America summit, the LPC is an opportunity for our Urban League affiliate presidents, board members, young professionals, and Guild members to meet with U.S. representatives and congressional staff for policy updates and discussion. 

The Washington Bureau develops insightful policy and research reports on the economic state of urban America and other underserved communities. Our publications explore issues critical to the progress and well being of Africam Americans. Key papers and topics include: :

  • Digital Revolution: Electrification & Smart Communities - The Benefits and the Barriers (harnessing the opportunities of new technologies)
  • The State of Urban Health (institutional health care disparities and their impact)
  • The Hidden Swing Voters (understanding the influence and potential of urban voters)
  • The State of the Black Middle Class (the challenges facing black families in the wake of economic downturn)

The Washington Bureau also offers thoughtful policy recommendations that support our empowerment goals in publications such as our 8-Point Plan: Educate, Employ and Empower, and Teachers Matter.