CREDO (formerly Working Assets Wireless) is an American for-profit mobile virtual network operator headquartered in San Francisco, California. CREDO's mobile network operator is Sprint Corporation.
CREDO Mobile is a division of Working Assets.
Working Assets was established in 1985 in San Francisco as a business that would use its revenues to fund progressive social change work.
Its initial product was a credit card that generated donations to progressive nonprofit groups every time the card was used. Soon, the company introduced a ballot process for its customers to vote on how to distribute the money raised among nonprofit groups. The ballot is still used today.
Long-Distance Phone Service
In 1991, the company launched long-distance phone service, promoting the fact that it would donate one percent of its customer charges to nonprofit groups. It also featured political actions in the customers’ monthly bills, urging them to make free calls to elected officials. And it let customers pay for “CitizenLetters” to be sent in their name to the officials. By 1993, these actions included calling for a single-payer healthcare system and pushing to end the ban on gays in the military.
Mobile Phone Service
In 2000, the company added mobile phone service, becoming a mobile virtual network operator using the Sprint Nextel network. That same year, it launched an activist website called Act for Change (now CREDO Action).
In November 2007, Working Assets Wireless announced that it was changing its name to CREDO Mobile to better reflect the company’s values: A belief that people, through donations to nonprofits and political activism, can effect progressive change. The names of its phone services were changed to CREDO Mobile and CREDO Long Distance. The name of its credit card, however, remains the Working Assets Credit Card.
Its original mission of working for change remains unchanged. On its website, the company states:
We’ve succeeded all along because we flipped the nonprofit model for social change on its head, setting up a for-profit company that doesn’t rely on fundraising and that isn’t driven by the whims of benefactors. This frees us to take courageous positions in our political advocacy. We’re also privately owned (our employees own most of our stock), not publicly traded, which liberates us from short-term financial considerations and hostile Wall Street takeovers. In other words, we’re independent to the core.
In keeping with its commitment to protect the environment, it offers free phone recycling, prints its bills on 100% post-consumer recycled paper, and offsets its electricity and shipping costs through CarbonFund.org’s “carbon free” program. CREDO plants 100 trees for every ton of paper it uses (enough to generate another ton) and it has donated more than $700,000 to tree planting programs in the U.S. and abroad.
In 2009, CREDO Mobile was recognized by the nonprofit Planning and Conservation League as the Environmental Business of the Year.
CREDO Mobile’s mission of social change takes the form of two primary activities: its donations to progressive nonprofits, and its CREDO Action activist arm.
Donations to Nonprofit Groups
Donations from its credit card, long-distance and mobile customers cumulatively total more than $72 million since 1985. The company uses in its marketing the fact that it is “the largest corporate donor to Planned Parenthood, with more than $2 million in donations over the years.” Other major recipients of donations include the ACLU, Doctors Without Borders, Rainforest Action Network and Amnesty International.
Each year, the company selects dozens of nonprofit groups in five broad issue areas: civil rights, economic and social justice, environment, peace and international freedom, and voting rights and civic participation. And each year, the company asks its customers (“members” in the company’s parlance) to vote on how to distribute the money it raises among the groups.
Credo Mobile also has created an online network of more than 3 million activists who take actions both online and offline. On its website, the company states:
Many companies, especially large ones, hire lobbyists to mold government policies and legislation to serve their financial interests. CREDO blazes a different path. We fight for progressive social change with 3 million of our activist friends at CREDO Action. No lobbyists, no back-door meetings, no candidate contributions. Just ordinary Americans, galvanized to speak truth to power.
During the build-up to the Iraq war, the company opposed it and worked with MoveOn.org and True Majority to take out a full-page advertisement in the New York Times against the U.S.-led invasion. In 2004, it launched an “election protection” program and donated more than $1 million to groups working to register voters and increase turnout on Election Day.
It has been a vocal opponent of both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and mobilized against invasion and later to push for withdrawal of U.S. troops from both countries. This partly led in 2009 to Fast Company magazine including CREDO in its top five “brave brands.”
Among its environmental activism, the company has focused on moving away from fossil fuels and toward supporting renewable sources. As such, it has campaigned relentlessly against coal power, natural gas fracking, and more recently, against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.
To increase voter turnout in the United States presidential election, 2008, CREDO Action started an initiative called Pollworkers for Democracy, in which hired volunteers to staff polling places and ensure fair voting practices. For their Text Out the Vote campaign, CREDO invited users to enter friends' phone numbers to text them each a reminder to vote on election day.
Its other political activism includes a wide range of issues – from favoring marriage equality, women’s rights, food safety and calling for increased prosecution of fraud and crimes on Wall Street, to opposing corporate money in politics, especially in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.
In 2012, the company launched the “CREDO SuperPAC,” not to support candidates but to oppose them. In a departure from other corporate superPACs, CREDO focused more on grassroots, volunteer-driven activism than on buying television advertisements. Its stated aim was to defeat Tea Party-affiliated candidates running for re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives. Its campaign, dubbed “Take Down the Tea Party Ten,” resulted in helping defeat 5 of the candidates: Allen West, Frank Guinta, Joe Walsh, Chip Cravaack and Dan Lungren.
- "Conscious Calls: Working Assets rings up success with charitable giving—critics call it another for-profit phone company". SFGate. 2011-09-21. Retrieved 2011-08-15.
- Working Assets Wireless becomes Credo Mobile
- Working Assets Launches CREDO Mobile
- SF Chronicle: CREDO relies on text messages to ensure progressive victory
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