Fourteen organizations supported as part of 2018 Special Initiative.
We live in times that compel us to work differently. At a moment when so many of our neighbors are targeted and marginalized as a direct result of the policies and directives of our current president and his administration, we cannot pretend it is business as usual.
For us at Barr, this led our trustees to announce earlier this year a $3-million expansion of a 2017 Special Initiative to support New England communities under threat and to ensure a fair and accurate 2020 Census count in the region. Moreover, in determining how best to allocate those resources, we were eager to identify new potential partners beyond Barr’s existing networks and to support organizations and efforts across New England, as fewer philanthropic resources tend to be available outside of larger metropolitan regions.
To that end, earlier this summer we issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the New England Civil Rights Fund, open to all organizations working in support of, and in partnership with, immigrants and refugees, Muslims, communities of color, and LGBTQ communities to support civil rights protections and strengthen community capacity to respond to new challenges.
The response to the RFP was overwhelming: 92 organizations from all six New England states submitted proposals. About three quarters of the proposals came from Massachusetts-based organizations, and of those, more than a third were from organizations beyond Greater Boston. We were both moved and daunted by this robust response, knowing that it represents far more need than any one foundation can address.
Barr had originally allocated $1 million for this fund. In view of the response and strength of proposals, I am pleased to report that our trustees increased the allocation to the New England Civil Rights Fund by 25%, allowing us to award 14 grants totaling $1.26 million.
Below are the recipient organizations, with each grant awarded for a 24-month period:
These organizations are carrying out critical work to support and protect people through legal services, community organizing and empowerment, education and outreach programming, and network facilitation in communities across New England. Together with the 10 initial grants awarded in May and the three awarded last month in response to the family separation crisis, these bring Barr’s total commitment for the 2018 Special Initiative to $3.76 million.
The capacity for foundations to remain adaptive—both in what they do and in how they do it—remains essential in these times. When our values are under attack, when the rights of residents and neighbors are being stripped away, and when those who do vital work on the front lines are overwhelmed by the demand for their services, we must ask ourselves: What can we do to help?
At Barr, we are striving to do our part while sustaining our commitments to our core programs in Arts & Creativity, Climate, and Education. We draw inspiration from the partners listed above—and others we have been privileged to support—for the critical work they are doing every day to ensure civil rights for all.