The Civic Action Network, the organizing and training arm of the Community Renewal Society, is made up of congregations throughout the Chicago metropolitan area dedicated to put their faith into action to win change for racial and economic justice. Civic Action organizers work with congregational leaders to build relationships within their churches, identify new leaders in the congregation, and engage the church in local, city-wide and state-wide campaigns for justice.
Congregations meet 2-4 times a year in the Civic Action Network Leadership Council to identify issues of concern and launch new campaigns. One of these meetings is the CRS Annual Membership Assembly where the member congregations also elect the CRS Board of Directors.
When the member congregations choose a new campaign, an Issue Team is formed. This team, made up of 10-15 leaders with special knowledge or passion for the issue, creates the campaign strategy, plans events, and leads public action to win change.
The work of the Civic Action Network is overseen by the Strategy Team. This team of 6-12 advanced leaders representing the diversity of the Civic Action Network's membership sets the broad strategy for the organization, coordinates the work of the different Issue Teams, serves as the public spokespeople for the network, and executes organization-wide actions such as the Martin Luther King Day Community Empowerment Assembly and the Day of Faith in Action in Springfield.
- Played a central role in passing HB3061, the Illinois Sealing Bill through the Illinois General Assembly. This bill vastly expands record sealing for low-level, non-violent felony records giving people a chance to turn their lives around, care for their families, and become productive members of their communities.
- As a member of the Safety First Coalition, helped to pass SB957, to provide a path for undocumented people in Illinois to receive drivers licenses and auto insurance.
- The High HOPES (Healing Over the Punishment of Expulsions and Suspensions) Coalition, convened by Community Renewal Society, passed extensive changes in the Chicago Public School Student Code of Conduct to move CPS away from punitive discipline and toward Restorative Justice
- Advocated for the unfreezing and repayment of the Illinois Affordable Housing Trust Fund and Rental Housing Support Program Fund in partnership with Access Living and Housing Action Illinois. This campaign resulted in teh restoration of more than $20 million for affordable housing.
- Won funding for vital services for children of incarcerated parents through the Department of Human Services. This represented the first time in Illinois history a state agency had specifically recognized the needs of these vulnerable children.
- As a part of the Responsible Budget Coalition, created new funding to protect crucial education, healthcare, and human services for Illinois residents.
- In partnership with Jane Addams Senior Caucus, passed landmark nursing home legislation which doubled the amount of staff care low-income African-American seniors received at many South side nursing homes.
- Won commitments from the Illinois Department of Corrections to transform its family services and visiting areas and procedures for children of incarcerated parents.