BWF Grantmaking 2004
I grew up thinking that girls were just like boys. As I grew older I realized that women struggle every day to receive the rights they deserve. Being a Salvadorian girl, I face challenges everywhere I go. There are issues of racism and the problems of being a youth. It is difficult for adults to realize that youth also have a voice and need to be heard. Working at the Boston Women’s Fund gives me an opportunity to express my opinions as a youth as well as a girl. —Claudia Contreras
Adbar Ethiopian Women’s Alliance
The mission of the Adbar Ethiopian Women’s Alliance is to empower and strengthen Ethiopian women and girls by encouraging them to become agents of change. The Alliance works to enhance the status of Ethiopian women through community organizing, advocacy, and service using culturally appropriate strategies. It provides empowerment programs and service linkages to other providers, as well as legislative and legal advocacy to meet the needs of Ethiopian immigrant/ refugee women who have been traditionally underserved or neglected. It is strongly committed to helping Ethiopian women and girls achieve economic independence and maintain personal safety as they adjust to a new environment.
Asian American Resource Workshop
Forged in the fires of the grassroots activism of the civil rights movement, AARW emerged as the first pan-Asian organization in the Boston area to address issues of racism against the Asian community. The organization has positioned itself on the cutting edge once again with its new anti-racism education program called “The Sticky Rice Project for Women.” This program was developed to fill in the critical pieces missing from the dialogue on racism—a dialogue based largely on a black-white paradigm. Workshops will combine race, class and gender analysis to understand the specific oppressions facing Asian-American women and will facilitate organizing approaches that address their needs and vision.
Asian Pacific Islanders Women’s Social Justice Project
The API Women’s Social Justice Project is the local response to the recent Ford Foundation report “Asian American Women: Issues, Concerns, and Responsive Human and Civil Rights Advocacy.” This groundbreaking report found that Asian and Pacific Islander (API) women are at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder and suffer human and civil rights abuses on a daily basis. The Project is a diverse, grassroots, community-based, women-led coalition dedicated to developing a constituency-driven, racial, social, health, and economic justice movement for API women in Eastern Massachusetts, particularly the urban areas of Greater Boston, Lowell, Lynn, and Revere.
Association of Haitian Women
The Association of Haitian Women equips Haitian women with the necessary tools to improve their social, economic, and political status. BWF funding supports the Battered Women Task Force. Recent changes in welfare and immigration laws have forced many lowincome Haitian women to endure battering relationships from fear of INS and police involvement. Haitian women are also frequently denied shelter services in part due to linguistic and cultural barriers. Based on the principle of collectivity, the Association develops workshops for battered women to support each other, increase their personal and political power, and strategize around violence-prevention and economic opportunity. The workshops are an attempt to lessen the acceptance of violence—by women, the Haitian community, and community service providers.
Coalition of Asian Pacific American Youth
Stereotyping and pigeon-holing affect young APA men and women in similar ways—they are stereotyped as silent, high-achieving, and without problems. Many young women, however, have the added cultural pressure at home of being the “good Asian daughter” who does not question male authority and who learns to clean and cook. CAPAY has been in existence since 1994, building the consciousness and leadership skills of APA youth in the Greater Boston area. Youth learn about systems of oppression and to analyze root causes of the injustices and problems in our society. For young APA women, a space like CAPAY where they can take leadership roles and have their strength validated is extremely important. They can build a support network among their peers, both male and female, and find role models among the adults who set examples of leadership and strength.
Cooperative Economics for Women
Women in poverty struggle with the multiple burdens of racism, xenophobia, and the overwhelming demonization of the poor in the United States. Cooperative Economics for Women works with lowincome women to create constituency-driven, cooperative incomegenerating projects and to address the punitive effects of welfare and immigration laws and reform. It organizes with low-income immigrant and refugee women of color to address problems they face as they struggle to meet their basic needs. Currently CEW is working with Cambodian, Cape Verdean, Eritrean, and Haitian immigrant and refugee women and their families in Boston and surrounding communities. Its current programs include worker owned cooperatives, food security, legal advocacy, community organizing training, ESOL classes, and children’s programs.
Crossing Communities Collaborative
The Collaborative’s mission and guiding principles are geared toward the development of positive community change through education, spiritual development, and collaboration. It works with existing social-change organizations and educational institutions to develop coalitions and cross-cultural exchanges both locally and internationally, organizes around issues of social justice, and actively challenges racism in all of its forms. It also works toward international solidarity and equality while promoting spiritual awareness in social activism. The Collaborative intends to bring a group of Cuban women to Boston to share best practices.
Eastern Mass Abortion Fund
Abortion has been legal in the United States for over thirty years, but for too many women, it is still inaccessible due to a lack of funding, a shortage of providers, restrictive legislation and anti-choice harassment and violence. While MassHealth gives women in Massachusetts greater access to abortion than women in many other states have, the barriers are still prohibitive for many women, especially uninsured or underinsured women, young women, immigrant women, and women living outside Metro Boston. By providing financial aid in the form of grants to low-income women and girls seeking safe and timely abortions, EMAF empowers women to be guided by their belief systems rather than financial constraints.
Fuller Museum of Art
The Teen Docent Program at the Fuller Museum of Art empowers young women in Brockton to express themselves visually and verbally through the study and creation of art. Works in the museum are utilized as a springboard for the discussion of issues such as the perception of women, sexuality, multiculturalism, domestic violence, discrimination, and self-esteem. The discussions then fuel ideas for the teen’s own creative artwork. Additionally, teen girls utilize these experiences to plan activities and discussion for the fourth- and fifth-grade girls that they mentor one day per week for ten consecutive weeks. Docents also act as guides for the museum’s cultural activities.
Homes for Families
Homelessness is a demoralizing experience for families. It interrupts family life, interferes with children’s education and development, and often results in the separation of family members. Diminishing wages and welfare benefits, and lack of affordable housing are the primary causes of family homelessness. Homes for Families works with homeless families to advocate for and provide solutions to problems in the areas of housing, education, and jobs. The organization recruits and fully involves the people most affected by the injustice of family homelessness—women and their children. Formerly homeless people serve as active members of the board and are involved in the decision-making process of the organization.
The Kitchen Table Conversations Project
The Kitchen Table Conversations Project grew out of an investigation into the situations of Cambridge women who were directly affected by the dramatic changes in federal and state welfare entitlement programs. During 2003, its work has focused on the need for accessible, sensitive health care for two reasons: 1) Poverty has created a great deal of stress in the lives of low-income women as individuals, as providers for their families, and as mothers, 2) the depth of that stress became evident during the past year when two members of the group died of preventable causes. As a result, we have worked hard to save MassHealth by petitioning, holding community meetings, speaking at rallies, and meeting with health-care administrators and providers to increase services and access to low income women and our families.
Low-Income Welfare Organizing Collaborative
LIWOC is a ten-member coalition of groups in Greater Boston area that focuses on organizing low-income people around issues of poverty and injustice. The member groups come to the coalition with a commitment to low-income missions and leadership. Since its inception, LIWOC has been a forum for leaders to work together, identify common issues, sponsor trainings on welfare rules, and develop joint materials. The coordinated systems developed by the groups enable them to increase their individual outreach, leadership development, and organizing capacity. LIWOC has helped each group to significantly expand and educate its constituency of current and former welfare recipients through direct outreach.
Girls, especially immigrants and young women of color, have the fewest resources and the least power both in their communities and in the workplace. The teen leadership development project Teens Lead at Work engages youth in organizing for jobs that are free from sexual harassment, discrimination, and other dangerous working conditions. Youth learn about the roots of the issues of concern to them, train other youth, design strategies for change, and organize for results. Over the next year, peer leaders will campaign for passage of a child-labor reform bill.
The Network/La Red
The Network/La Red, one of the few organizations working specifically to end woman-on-woman battering, collaborates with a wide variety of community organizations to end domestic violence. The organization and its newspaper offer a political analysis of womanon- woman battering in order to encourage constituencies to act for broad social, political, and economic change rather than single-issue advocacy. Phase II of the Network’s visibility campaign is designed to engage the LBT community in taking ownership and responsibility for the issue of domestic violence through community collaborations, strategic planning, media advocacy, advertising, a ribbon campaign, and a “Help Out a Friend” campaign, which includes trainings and materials.
Peace at Home
Peace at Home began as a grassroots effort to increase press coverage and raise awareness of domestic violence and to track the number of women, children, and family members involved in incidents of domestic violence. Its philosophy states that domestic violence is not just a women’s issue but a human rights violation. It believes that everyone can help stop domestic violence and reshape the way society thinks about and responds to this emergency. This can build a movement to claim the right to live at home in safety and dignity, free from fear of physical and psychological abuse. The goal of Peace at Home is to provide the general public with the tools and information it needs to prevent domestic violence and provide victims with the resources and support they need. It does this through education, prevention and advocacy, including its Public Information Campaign, which brings its materials and resources to people where they live and work.
People to People
People to People works collaboratively with women who are incarcerated or at risk of being in conflict with the law. It helps them to couple their inherent power with external resources to take control over their lives. The first program in Massachusetts of its kind, People to People challenges the systems of oppression and dismantles the patterns of thought about the abilities and potential of women. Providing a structured, positive opportunity for interaction, women inmates have an opportunity to intervene in the cycle of incarceration and recidivism by helping young women make better choices about their own lives.
Public Housing Organizing Committee
Developing short-term and long-term campaigns, building community partnerships and relationships through one-on-one interaction, and holding house meetings are all traditional organizing strategies that work well in the dense geography of public housing. The Public Housing Organizing Committee believes that the sustained and meaningful participation by residents in all aspect of housing-agency operations is also an important ingredient. Its mission is to represent public-housing tenants in dealings with the Chelsea Housing Authority and other public entities and to mobilize tenants to protect, improve, and expand public housing in Chelsea. The women who lead the Committee conduct grassroots community organizing, leadership development, and community-building in the face of staunch opposition and intimidation tactics by the Housing Authority administration.
Sisters Together Ending Poverty
STEP aims to “build a lasting and diverse movement for economic justice run by and for low-income women that will transform society.” Members support individual low-income women by helping them become empowered and engaging them in organizing, public education, and coalition campaigns that strengthen their lives and the local community. STEP works in collaboration with community partners, organizations, and funders, reaching across the lines of class, race, gender, and sexual orientation, to build a mutual power base with a healthy value system of mutual support—to “leave no one behind.”
Southeast Asian Bilingual Advocates, Inc.
SABAI was founded in response to the need for strategies and services that address issues of health care access, health status, and cultural and linguistic appropriateness of care for Southeast Asian communities in the Greater Lowell area. Working at the grassroots level in the Lowell area, it is committed to the development of programs that are respectful of cultural, individual, family, and community needs while reducing barriers between Southeast Asian and Western health beliefs and promoting participation in health services and activities. SABAI is especially committed to serving those members of the Southeast Asian community who are most marginalized and isolated by language, poverty, age, or circumstance.
Survivors, Inc., mobilizes a broad welfare-rights constituency to fight for economic justice. The power of low-income women is increased through leadership development, community organizing, education, and advocacy concerning policy and practice related to low-income women and families. As a result, the women become leaders in their organizations, in their communities, and in the larger movement for economic and social justice. It organizes nationally for the creation of social policy with low-income women at the table. It also organizes locally at Boston welfare offices, in its communities, and at UMass Boston with the belief that the best advocates for low-income women are the women themselves.
The Theater Offensive
The Theater Offensive presents theatrical works that break down personal isolation, challenge political orthodoxy and help to build a progressive community. DAGGER is its multicultural, multiracial guerrilla theater troupe for queer women and girls. Its performances will concentrate on how issues of class, race, sexuality, sexual orientation and gender play out in women’s and girls’ real lives, seen from a queer woman’s perspective. By using the techniques of guerrilla theater, DAGGER challenges the status quo and works with other grassroots community groups to educate and move toward social and economic justice for all. DAGGER will collaborate with People to People to sponsor a series of community activities to promote intergenerational networking and mentoring for DAGGER members, with a particular emphasis on women and girls of color.
United Teen Equality Center
Educating communities about the root causes of social and economic problems lies at the heart of UTEC’s youth peer-led learning projects. The Young Women’s Project, which gives young women the ability to be agents of social change in their own communities, focuses on the specific needs of Lowell’s young women and helps them become leaders at the Center and in their personal lives. Youth serve as full board members and have their own youth advisory council. UTEC currently produces a quarterly ’zine called Goddess that examines a variety of gender-related issues.
Women of Action Project
Individually, low-income women have little or no power to influence the decisions of major institutions and policymakers. The Women of Action Project is a grassroots, direct-action organization of low-income women, particularly women of color and single mothers, who have joined together to support one another and to wage campaigns demanding social and economic justice. WOA is a means for low-income women to gain power as a group and to obtain the rights and respect they deserve. The campaign being waged this year against the local housing authority will hopefully result in a tenant/housing authority partnership that will incorporate tenant decision-making at every level.
The Women’s Theological Center
The Women’s Theological Center is a community-based organization dedicated to addressing the ways in which women can draw on their spiritual strength in their social-change work. Built on leadership tools first developed in the Civil Rights movement that linked personal faith, community belonging, and social action, its mission is to “support and engage the spiritual leadership of women using the power of our deepest values and hopes as a creative force to strengthen communities, bridge differences, and work for justice throughout society.” The WTC offers programs using popular education models based in community participation to ground its theory and practices. It consults and produces publications on spiritual leadership for effective social change to its membership, organizations, and the wider community.