Reaching America

Reaching America

Background

Reaching America is a 501(c)(4) organization founded by Derrick Hollie, an advertising and marketing specialist. The group, founded in 2015, claims to focus on “innovative solutions for African Americans not based on right or left wing views but what makes sense for a more united America,” a goal they will accomplish through “utilizing grass root efforts, social media, traditional media and PR.” [1]

According to the IRS, 501(C)(4) organizations “may engage in an unlimited amount of lobbying, provided that the lobbying is related to the organization's exempt purpose.” [2]

Reaching America's website describes the group as “committed to advancing policies that allow us to use our abundant, affordable, and reliable energy sources – and that allow consumer decisions and individual priorities to determine our energy mix,” adding that “Instead of regulating away coal, oil, and natural gas, policymakers should be focused on allowing innovation and the free market to flourish with solutions that meet our energy demands.” [1]

Reaching America lists the following “issues” on its website: [1]

  • Criminal Justice Reform - Ideas and solutions to make a more fair and just criminal justice system.
  • Energy - Addressing Energy Poverty Policies that harm minorities and drive income inequality.
  • Occupational Licensing/Job Creation - Working to remove outdated and antiquated barriers to opportunities for those wanting to contribute to our economy.
  • Free Speech - The First Amendment protects Freedom of speech, we should have the ability to express our views without fear of repercussion.

Explore Offshore & API Connection

Reaching America is listed as a “partner” in Explore Offshore, a coalition organized by the American Petroleum Institute that describes its mission as to “unite supporters of offshore energy development and promote its benefits and its importance to our nation’s economy and energy security.” [24]

Reuters reported in 2018 that Explore Offshore was created with a goal “to convince Hispanic and black communities to support the Trump administration’s proposed expansion of offshore drilling.” [25]

Media Matters examined some of the op-eds placed in local papers as part of a campaign to promote offshore drilling to minority groups were misleading. [26], [27] 

Stance on Climate Change

September 20, 2016

In an interview with Leroy Jones Jr., Reaching America founder Derrick Hollie said: [3]

“Climate change is real and we contribute to it, but how much can be done, and does the rate of warming justify the actions? […] It's been mild and it's been gradual. […]  mild and gradual warming does not justify the policies that increase energy poverty and income inequality for minority communities.” 

Fueling US Forward, a Koch-funded front group, also promoted the interview. [4]

Funding

At the time of publishing, Reaching America did not appear to have any publicly available tax records or funding information online. DeSmog will continue to research funding sources and update this section when new information comes to light. 

According to the group's donation page, donations are used to: [5]

  • “Utilize a transpartisan approach towards effective solutions to social and political issues.
  • Provide outreach to educate Americans on social and political issues.
  • Provide a platform for American voices to be heard throughout the political process.”

Key People

Actions

February 6, 2019

Derrick Hollie testified alongside Judith Curry as a minority witness at the House Committee on Natural Resources' hearing on “Climate Change: Impacts and the Need to Act.” [36], [37]

View a written copy of Hollie's testimony here (PDF).

“The community, the African American community, we don't have the luxury to pay more for green technologies,” Hollie said in his testimony.

While denouncing renewable energy, Hollie described the “abundant supply of natural gas” as “the solution to our nation's energy questions.” He added, “Natural gas is clean.” 

Following testimony, Hollie faced a question from Democrat Joe Neguse regarding his comments that natural gas is a clean energy source:

Neguse: “According to the NAACP air task force report, African American communities face an elevated risk of cancer due to air toxic emissions from natural gas development. And over 1 million African Americans live in counties that face a cancer risk above the EPA's level of concern from toxics emitted by natural gas facilities. So I'm curious how you would respond to that statistic. “

Hollie: “Our response would be, all of our energy sources have some type of downside to them. Even coal. We look at the wind turbines…”

Neguse: “I would agree with you there, certainly. Coal certainly has a negative impact…”

Hollie: “If I could finish, sir, if I could finish. Even the wind turbines, this winter, a couple weeks ago couldn't operate — the downside. Well we know for a fact that liquid gas, natural gas is the cleanest way and the most affordable way right now for people in this country.”

Neguse: “I'm not sure I understand your comparison of windmills to the toxins and potential cancer risks associated with natural gas emissions. But nonetheless, I will say, I understand that you have written a number of editorials and obviously from your testimony today, support the development of fossil fuels, coal and natural gas”

Hollie: “That's a fair assessment.”

Neguse: “I also understand that your organization is a partner with a group called, uh, let's see here. Explore Offshore. Is that correct?”

Hollie: “We are a member of that organization, yes.”

Neguse: “Okay. And that is a project of the American Petroleum Institute.”

Hollie: “Yes, they are associated with them. Yes.”

Neguse: “Does your organization receive any funding from fossil fuel companies or corporations?”

Hollie: “No we do not.”

When Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona asked who would be most negatively impacted by a Green New Deal, Hollie said, “Minorities because we can’t afford rising costs associated with policies.”

September 11, 2018

Reaching America's Derrick Hollie spoke at a public hearing on the Buckingham Compressor Station (BCS) air permit in Virginia. He described the station as an “integral part of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline” and came out “in strong support of this project.” [22]

With regards to expressed concerns that the project would damage Virginia's environment, Hollie said he and Reaching America “have no such concerns.” [22]

August 18, 2018

Derrick Hollie wrote an op-ed at the Daily Press where he claimed protestors of offshore oil and gas production don't represent people of color. [23]

“[W]hat I don’t see is a lot of minorities or people of color. Maybe because they’re at work trying to make up for that pay gap?” Hollie wrote. He further suggested the “protests blatantly oppress an already oppressed group of people.”  [23]

“Producing more energy here in America will make energy prices go down, or at least keep them stable in the near future. That’s why the first step should be approving seismic testing and initiating a discovery phase off Virginia’s coast,” Hollie suggested.  [23]

“In light of this information, it strikes me incredibly odd that many local elected officials… are opposed to offshore drilling,” he added. [23]

Reaching America is listed as a “partner” in a coalition organized by the American Petroleum Institute titled Explore Offshore that pushes offshore drilling. [24]

August 1, 2017

Reaching America's Derrick Hollie testified to the EPA, opposing a renewable fuel standard claiming it would disproportionately impact African American families. [21]

“Any policy that contributes to energy poverty is a bad one for low income families and minority communities,” Hollie said in his testimony.  [21]

“Requiring additional amount of ethanol be put in gasoline would damage engines of older cars and small-engine tools like lawnmowers that require drastic maintenance costs many black families and low income families just can't afford,” he added.  [21]

According to Hollie, increased ethanol production would also increase the price of food production.  [21]

June 17, 2017

Reaching America released the following radio spot in Atlanta, GA, on “energy poverty.” [7]

Voiced by Derrick Hollie, the transcript was as follows:

“Hi, I'm Derrick Hollie, President of Reaching America. Did you know that African Americans suffer disproportionately from energy poverty here in the United States? What is energy poverty, you may ask? Energy poverty exists when a low-income family or individual spends up to 30% of their income on utilities. It breaks my heart to think of a single mother who has to decide on feeding her kids, or paying the energy bills.

Specifically here in Atlanta, a high proportion of low income families already pay more than $200 a month for their electricity, and we need to fix this. In America, we have an abundance of energy and many of us take for granted that we can simply turn on the lights and keep our homes warm in the winter and cool in the summer. We have the natural resources from fossil fuels, including natural gas, and the technology to access these resources all while reducing US air pollution, that provides affordable, reliable energy right here at home. 

Join Reaching America in our modern-day movement to address social issues impacting the African American community at ReachingAmerica.org.”  [7]

April 22, 2017

Reaching America was listed as a sponsor of a “Women's Empowerment” event hosted by Foxy 107.1-104.3 radio. Derrick Hollie was listed on the 2017 event schedule to present alongside Willie Moore Jr. [8]

Hollie was also a presenter in a 2016 seminar at the event titled “How energy and energy poverty impacts the African American Community.” [9], [10]

March 22, 2017

Derrick Hollie spoke at the Transformation Expo 2017 in Richmond, Virginia, about “impact of Energy Poverty on the African American community.” Hollie provided a video summary of the event on his Facebook page: [20]

March 2, 2017

As Derrick Hollie reported at Energy in Depth (EID), a group launched by the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), he testified against Senate Bill 0740 and House Bill 1325 — two bills that would prevent hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in Maryland. [11], [12]

In his testimony, Hollie brings up “energy poverty,” and concludes that “There is too much at stake for black, low income, and other minority communities for Maryland to be bullied into continuing a misguided ban.” [11]

“Right now, 1,113,342 homes in Maryland are heated by natural gas, and millions more are powered in part by burning natural gas. Harnessing Maryland’s energy potential will help narrow the energy gap by ensuring African American households are just as warm and secure as everyone else’s,” Hollie said. [11]

February 24, 2017

Writing at HuffPost, Reaching America's Dereck Hollie argues that Maryland should pursue hydraulic fracturing (fracking). [13]

“Opponents of natural gas exploration have resorted to scare tactics and bullying of legislators to stop Maryland residents from having access to this affordable, job creating resource,” Hollie said. According to Hollie, “While dozens of other states have embraced natural gas, Maryland has stayed stuck in the past, and it is costing us dearly.” [13]

December 16, 2016

Reaching America teamed up with Fueling US Forward (FUSF) to sponsor a gospel concert in Richmond, VAThe New York Times reported[14]

About halfway through the event, the music gave way to a panel discussion on how the holidays were made possible by energy — cheap energy, like oil and gas,” Hiroko Tabuchi writes at the New York Times. She adds that the concert's flier read “Thankful for the fuels and innovation that make modern life possible.” [14]

View a recap video of the event, posted on Facebook by David Ferguson (formerly of Freedom Partners). [15], [16]

Eddie Bautista, executive director of the nonprofit NYC Environmental Justice Alliance, called the campaign “an exploitative, sad and borderline racist strategy.” FUSF has targeted minorities with the notion that they would be most affected by rises in energy costs, while Bautista notes that falling costs associated with renewable energy have made a shift away from fossil fuels a winning proposition for everyone. [14]

In addition to FUSF and Reaching America, the event was also sponsored by Radio One, which Tabuchi notes caters to black listeners. Four people were picked out of the crowd of 300 and told that their latest monthly electricity bills would be paid up to $250. According to his LinkedIn Profile, Hollie formerly worked at Radio One. [14][6]

May 11, 2016

Derrick Hollie, Reaching America founder, signed a Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) letter supporting legislation that would cancel Schedule B on non-profit reporting to the IRS. This would reduce transparency by removing the identification of contributors. [17]

“This bill presents an opportunity to strengthen free speech protections in light of recent cases of intimidation and mishandling of private information by the IRS. It would be a win for organizations across the political spectrum,” the letter claimed. [17]

January 15, 2015

Reaching America was registered as a corporation with the with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation on January 15, 2015 (Department ID Number: D16288011). Derrick J. Hollie is listed as the sole director, and the group's “principal office” was listed as follows: [18]

SUITE 300 
137 NATIONAL PLAZA 
NATIONAL HARBOR MD 20745

Related Organizations

Contact & Address

According to WHOIS web registration records, Derick Hollie registered ReachingAmerica.org on December 31, 2013, with the following contact information provided: [19]

Registrant Name: Derrick Hollie
Registrant Street: 137 National Plaza
Registrant Street: suite 345
Registrant City: oxon hill
Registrant State/Province: Maryland
Registrant Postal Code: 20745
Registrant Country: US
Registrant Phone: +1.3015238559
Registrant Email: [email protected]

Reaching America's filing with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation lists the following mailing address: [18]

REACHING AMERICA INC.
SUITE 300
137 NATIONAL PLZ
NATIONAL HARBOR MD 20745-1152

Social Media

Resources

  1. About,” Reaching America. Archived July 15, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/2YjRN

  2. John Francis Reilly and Barbara A. Braig Allen. “Political Campaign and Lobbying Activities of IRC 501(c)(4), (c)(5), and (c)(6) Organizations ” (PDF), IRS.gov, 2003. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  3. Talking with Derrick Hollie about the Energy Business,” iamleroyjonesjr.com, September 20, 2016. Archived July 15, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/gZTlT

  4. TALKING WITH DERRICK HOLLIE ABOUT THE ENERGY BUSINESS,” Fueling US Forward. Archived July 18, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/FqiNQ

  5. Donate & Join Us,” Reaching America. Archived July 19, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/a11NR

  6. Derrick Hollie,” LinkedIn. Accessed July 18, 2017. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  7. 2017-06-17 - Reaching America - Radio Spot - Atlanta - Energy Poverty,” YouTube video uploaded by user Reaching America, July 11, 2017. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

  8. Women’s Empowerment 2017 Event Schedule,”Foxy 107.1-104.3 FM. Archived July 19, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/h8D8T

  9. Jennifer Hall. “Women's Empowerment 2017 Sponsors,” Foxy 107.1-104.3 FM. Archived July 19, 2017.

  10. Jennifer Hall. “Seminars,” Foxy 107.1-104.3 FM. Archived July 19, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/XhpU1

  11. Derrick Hollie. “Allowing Fracking In Maryland “Will Help Narrow the Energy Gap” For Minorities,” EnergyinDepth, March 2, 2017. Archived July 18, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/zEIZ0

  12. About EID,” EnergyinDepth. Archived July 18, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/sEOZv

  13. Dereck Hollie. “Maryland Should Explore Opportunities With Natural Gas,” HuffPost, February 23, 2017. Archived July 18, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/JcVmY

  14. Hiroko Tabucchi. “Sensing Gains Ahead Under Trump, the Kochs Court Minorities,” The New York Times, January 5, 2017. Archived January 9, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/abF3O

  15. Here's a recap of yesterday's Energy Education Event with Reaching America, Derrick Hollie, and Fueling Us Forward in Richmond, Virginia.,” Facebook post by user David Ferguson, December 11, 2016. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

  16. David Ferguson,” Facebook profile. Accessed July 18, 2017. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/D61JK

  17. CEI Joins Coalition to Support the 'Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act',” Competitive Enterprise Institute, June 13, 2016. Archived July 17, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/mDw4I

  18. Business Entity Search, Certificate of Status & Document Order: REACHING AMERICA INC.: D16288011,” Maryland.gov. Archived July 18, 2017.

  19. Domain Whois record for reachingamerica.org. Retrieved from CentralOps.net, July 18, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/12mvE

  20. Derrick Hollie and Willie Moore Jr. spoke at the Transformation Expo 2017 in #Richmond, #Virginia about the impact of #EnergyPoverty on the African American community,” Facebook post uploaded by user Reaching America, March 22, 2017. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

  21. 2017-08-01 - Reaching America - Derrick Hollie - EPA Testimony - Renewable Fuel Standard,” YouTube video uploaded by user “Reaching Ameica,” August 8, 2017. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog. 

  22. Live at the DEQ hearing on the BCS air permit,” Facebook video via Sierra Club Virginia Chapter. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

  23. Derrick Hollie OpEd: Offshore Protestors Who Flood Hearing Rooms Don’t Speak For Everyone,” Daily Press, August 18, 2018. Archived August 20, 2018. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.fo/vh8Ck

  24. COALITION,” Explore Offshore. Accessed September 12, 2018. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  25. Valeria Volcovici. “Big Oil eyes U.S. minority groups to build offshore drilling support,” Reuters, June 22, 2018. Archived February 8, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/GxWAk

  26. Evlondo Cooper.”Oil industry enlists minority groups to publish pro-drilling op-eds,” Media Matters, July 5, 2018. Archived February 9, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/n2ZY6

  27. Big Oil’s 'Explore Offshore' Propaganda Is Corporate Ventriloquism,” DeSmog (Crossposted from Daily Kos), July 11, 2018. 

Other Resources