BWF Grantmaking 2006
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 Cambridge public schools welcome immigrant and refuge students from different countries and backgrounds and support them in the process of acquiring education. Despite the many supports, far too many barriers limit refuge and immigrant girls’ ability to participate in their new environment and school. Adbar’s pilot program is designed to help Ethiopian and other East African girls at the Ringe and Latin High School to incrementally break down the barriers and realize their potential to become agents of positive social change. Through role modeling, mentoring and acquiring skills in newsletter production and computers, these teen girls will gradually take on leadership roles, learning how to advocate for themselves and their peers, thereby increasing their comfort level within their school.
API Women’s Social Justice Project
The API Women’s Social Justice Project envisions a future vastly different from the realities faced by many API women today. Like other immigrant women, API women face social and economic injustices including poor work conditions, sexual harassment, substandard housing, immigration restrictions, and poor health care. In contrast, WJSP sees a future where API women are heard, empowered, equal, and fully participating in their communities. To this end, the API Women’s Social Justice Project has formed a diverse, grassroots coalition that is developing a constituency-driven social justice agenda for API women in Eastern Massachusetts. The project gives API women the tools they need to lift up their advocacy voices, develop leadership skills, organize as a community, develop consensus for an action plan, and create social change.
Asian Sisters Participating in Reaching Excellence
ASPIRE is a career and leadership development program for Asian American high school and college girls. Through mentorship, networking and culturally appropriate leadership development training, ASPIRE helps young Asian American women overcome social and economic injustice by building a strong base of professional and educational support. In 2005, ASPIRE launched its Youth Leadership Program designed specifically to recruit and mentor Asian girls from low-income urban communities. BWF’s grant will support ASRIRE’s plans to expand YLP and increase the leadership capacity of girls participating in YLP activities.
Association for Haitian Women
In a survey of 500 young women ages 15 to 24, it was found that 60 percent of young women were currently involved in an ongoing abusive relationship. Additionally, all respondents of this survey reported experiencing violence at some time in their dating relationship history. AFAB’s teen dating violence project will train 12 female Haitian and non-Haitian students from Boston, Brockton and Cambridge public schools to participate in a peer leadership development project on teen dating violence issues. They will learn about the root causes of teen dating violence, how to recognize signs of an abusive relationship and where to find help and resources. The students will then relay this information to other teens via workshops, forums and events. This project will raise awareness of teen dating violence and provide opportunities for Haitian adolescent girls to play a leadership role in their communities.
Bosnian Community Center for Resource Development
The Bosnian Community Center for Resource Development (BCCRD) provides culturally and linguistically appropriate services to nearly 8000 Boston area refugees from the former Yugoslavia. In its work with refugee women – many of whom are Muslim – BCCRD staff uncovered prevalent but often unacknowledged instances of abuse. In 2005, with BWF support, BCCRD implemented a Domestic Violence Initiative to provide education about domestic violence and victims’ rights, and empowerment for women who are linguistically, culturally and economically isolated and vulnerable. With a second grant from BWF, BCCRD will continue to build the Domestic Violence Initiative by increasing community outreach and providing peer education and leadership opportunities for women who participated in the Initiative’s first year.
Center for New Words
The mission of the Center for New Words (CNW) is to use the power and creativity of words and ideas to strengthen the voice of progressive and marginalized women. The heart of their mandate is the nexus where word-based empowerment, diverse women’s communities and activism intersect. Their BWF funded project, “Taking Our Place in the Public Conversation” is their vehicle to build community among women by collaborating with other local grassroots organizations to build bridges across neighborhoods, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation and gender divides. They run public forums and offer readings and talks with prominent public affairs commentators in targeted communities where women who are most affected can be informed about current issues and speak out. The BWF grant will support outreach for this initiative.
The City School is a learning community where young people are trained to become leaders for a more equitable, safe, and just Boston. The City School’s Rose from Concrete Project (RfC) provides leadership development, healing, resource referral, education, and job skills to court and/or DYS involved young women, thus enabling them to work actively for social change. Led by a mentor who herself was court involved, RfC will take young women through a three part program including self-exploration, political analysis and education, and a community action project. RfC’s approach to working with court-involved youth is to use their hands-on knowledge of the juvenile justice system as a spring-board to develop youth leaders and organizers for social justice.
Close to Home
Close to Home is an innovative approach to domestic violence (DV) prevention that seeks to make domestic violence a community isses that necessitates community led intervention strategies.. From its base in the Fields Corner section of Dorchester, Close to Home engages residents and neighborhood organizations to provide concrete support and safety to women, children and families affected by domestic and sexual violence, while also developing community driven responses to domestic violence prevention. BWF’s grant enables Close to Home to expand its three-pronged strategy that includes community organizing, coalition building and building civic discourse. Close to Home will mobilize more women to develop leadership teams to carry out projects in their neighborhoods, provide training for and meet with community organizations to implement community events, design and implement a public awareness campaign, and produce digital stories that allow residents to share personal experiences.
Cooperative Economics for Women
Since 1994, Cooperative Economics for Women (CEW) has organized with immigrant and refugee women to develop leadership skills and promote social and economic justice. From its base on Boston’s North Shore, CEW works with Cambodian and other Asian women as well as Cape Verdean, Eritrean, Haitian, Middle Eastern and Latino immigrant and refugee women and their families. CEW’s programs and organizing efforts address unmet needs related to community food insecurity, literacy, children’s programming, and domestic violence. BWF’s grant will support the Outreach and Advocacy Program with Immigrant Women designed to increase ESL services, educate women and community members on domestic violence services, and provide leadership training, advocacy and legal rights education.
Crossing Communities Collaborative
Ushering in and sustaining the activism of young women of color who are involved in social justice issues within their communities is the focus of Crossing Communities Collaborative. The Collaborative’s mission and guiding principles are the development of positive community change through education, spiritual development and collaboration. They strive to organize on issues of social justice and to actively challenge racism while promoting spiritual awareness. They propose to embark upon an educational and organizing project using as a model, the successful struggles of the civil rights movement of the 1960’s, the freedom schools that existed during that era, as well as the histories of women who were instrumental in providing constructive leadership. One learning will look at the history of organizing at the Bromley Heath Public Housing Development located in Jamaica Plain. This association led by African American women of color was a catalyst for public housing tenant activism, both locally and nationally, in the early 1970’s.
Eastern Massachusetts Abortion Fund
The Eastern Massachusetts Abortion Fund, an all-volunteer organization, believes that abortion services should be available to all women regardless of their ability to pay. They work cooperatively with health care providers, grassroots organizers and activists to ensure the accessibility of abortion and related services for all women. The organization allocates funds to women in need, addresses other barriers to abortion such as language, lack of transportation, childcare costs and works to increase awareness of obstacles to abortion. These factors disproportionately impact low-income women, young women, women of color, rural and immigrant women. Support from BWF will help the EMA fund meet the increasing demands for assistance and ensure that all individual donations continue to help women directly.
Homes for Families
Homes for Families recruits, organizes and fully involves the people most affected by the injustice of family homelessness: women and their children. Together, they advocate for access to education, training and jobs that pay living wage, and homelessness prevention resources which include access to and production of housing for extremely low-income households. BWF’s grant supports HFF’s Leadership Development Institute (LDI). The LDI enrolls and trains homeless and extremely low-income mothers to become trainers, community organizers and mentors of homeless parents. HFF’s investment in leadership development empowers homeless mothers in their efforts to become economically self-sufficient and to create, good lasting public policy that is responsive to and representative of low-income families.
Hyde Square Task Force
The WEPA Project of the Hyde Square Task Force is a community organizing initiative led by predominantly Latina and African American middle and high school girls in the Hyde/Jackson Square neighborhood of Jamaica Plain and Roxbury. Last year, the girls waged a successful campaign against sexual harassment on the streets of their neighborhood. This year, after receiving extensive training in leadership, community organizing and economic development, the team of 30 girls is organizing around two major issues in the community: sexual harassment in the Boston Public Schools and developing a new dance program that will be integrated into a new youth and family center in Jackson Square. The girls plan to lead a creative and active campaign against harassment and also plan to strongly advocate that facilities and programs for girls are a priority in the Jackson Square Development.
Matahari: Eye of the Day/South Asian Solidarity Network
Matahari: Eye of the Day creates community solutions to prevent and end human trafficking, gender-based violence and labor exploitation. Matahari has brought together South Asian activists and survivors to create the South Asian Solidarity Network (SASN). Working alongside migrant and U.S. born survivors, SASN members create the peer networks and practical foundations needed to overcome community pressures, find safety from violence, and establish economic independence. The SASN Survivors’ Cooperative will use the BWF grant to bring together South Asian survivors of violence to: share experiences and heal from trauma through Peer Empowerment Healing Circles; will develop strategies and projects for economic independence; and convene community gatherings to engage in anti-violence and anti-oppression education and dialogue.
Massachusetts Coalition on Occupational Safety & Health
For over 30 years, MassCOSH has provided training and technical assistance to residents and numerous community and labor groups, helping them identify, prevent and address workplace health risks. Through Masscosh, youth and adult immigrants, people of color and women in girls in low-paying unsafe and unhealthy jobs organize and advocate for safe and healthy workplaces and communities. Over the next year, BWF will support the efforts of their peer led youth organizing project, called Teens Lead at Work” as they go forward in their campaign to address the high rate of violence against youth working in retail stores, continue to organize to pass a strong Child Labor bill and investigate issues that particularly impact Dorchester’s diverse youth, such a s Vietnamese youth working in nail salons.
Navarasa Dance Theater
Challenging conventions; pushing the boundaries of traditional art forms; giving voice to the unseen or marginalized. For Navarasa Dance Theater, these elements fuel art and activism. Navarasa believes that art is an effective and powerful medium to convey political messages and engage and mobilize people – especially people of color – to affect positive social change. Untold Stories (working title), an upcoming work, will explore women’s folk-tales from India. This project is collaboration among writers, storytellers and artists. Using dance, music, theater, storytelling, and interaction, Untold Stories celebrates women’s creative work and elevates women’s narratives that are otherwise lost in mainstream culture. Through projects like Untold Stories, Navarasa challenges the boundaries of performing arts by creating a partnership of high quality art with progressive politics.
The Network/La Red
Since its inception, The Network/La Red has been a place for survivors of lesbian/bisexual and transgender (LBT) domestic violence to organize around battering in their communities. Through community education and organizing, The Network/La Red works to eliminate the isolation, ignorance, denial, and prejudices that perpetuate violence in same-sex relationships. BWF’s grant supports the Network/La Red’s Visibility Campaign to engage the lesbian/bisexual/trans community in taking ownership and responsibility for the issue of domestic violence through community collaboration, media advocacy, internet presence, and distribution written materials. The Visibility Campaign speaks to those who have been battered as well as those who have not, and encourages them to take action. By fostering community responsibility for domestic violence, The Network/La Red seeks to build communities that are safer for all.
People to People
People to Peoples’mission is to empower incarcerated women to advocate for themselves and to initiate connections that will encourage and support their development toward self-determination. Through the Uncommon Choices program, adult female inmates act as mentors to court involved girls during group discussions and encounters. The experience is mutually beneficial for both groups: the inmates learn that they have value by sharing their insights and experiences with young court involved girls; the court involved girls are confronted with the choices that these inmates made and can see the consequence of those choices. This reality causes them to reflect on their own situation and hopefully will then lead them to make choices that will take them in the direction that they want to go.
Reaching out about Depression (ROAD)
Reaching Out About Depression (Road) is a grassroots mental heath and organizing project for low-income women in the Cambridge/Boston area who struggle with depression and its affect on their lives. ROAD builds on the idea that effective management of depression is essential to enabling low-income women to engage in activism, just as engaging in activism will, in turn, alleviate depression by giving women a sense of agency and control. ROAD began when members of the Kitchen Table project discussed ways to address emotional difficulties – especially depression – that were interfering with their ability to make changes in their own lives and community. Through its Supportive Action Workshop Series and Resource Advocacy Team, ROAD seeks to address the symptoms of poor women’s depression and the socio-cultural conditions and inequalities that influence and exacerbate mental health difficulties.
Reflect and Strengthen
Reflect & Strengthen (R&S) is an organization run by and for working-class women, ages 14-30, from urban neighborhoods of Boston. Using a holistic approach, this ethnically diverse group of young women creates positive social change at the community level through creative expression, political education and community building. Reflect & Strengthens’ programs include Girls Rap which provides healing circles and support groups to nurture sisterhood and solidarity, What’s the 411? which builds awareness of social justice struggles and the power of people to create change, and R&S Theater which celebrates cultures and creativity, and offers opportunities to transform life experiences through artistic expression. BWF’s grant is for general operating support.
Sisters Together Ending Poverty
Founded in 1999, Sisters Together Ending Poverty (STEP) is run by and for low-income women to build a base for a lasting and diverse economic justice movement. STEP’s mission includes an end to poverty and economic need. STEP uses a multifaceted approach including advocacy, organizing, and public education campaigns to develop the leadership of grassroots activists, low-income women and their families. Members experience empowerment by being heard and valued, coming together to understand the similarity of their experiences, and dispelling isolation. BWF’s grant supports STEP’s Income Justice Campaign, which organizes present and former welfare recipients and low wage workers in the MetroWest Area of Massachusetts. The Income Justice Campaign is an ongoing project that advocates for a comprehensive and just safety net, living wages and benefits.
Somali Development Corporation
By promoting mutual assistance, cultural identity and leadership, The Somali Development Center fosters the ability of Somali individuals and families to advocate on their own behalf and participate in the larger community. BWF’s grant will support Phase II of SDC’s Women’s Empowerment Initiative which addresses the psychological needs of clients who have undergone Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). This cultural practice, which is still supported by many Somali women, is examined through workshops on health, culture, religion, gender roles, female empowerment and legislation. In Phase II, the Initiative will move beyond the walls of SDC by training the current participants to become Community Educators. These Community Educators will hold house meetings in targeted neighborhoods to educate about the dangers of FGM and to introduce alternative notions of gender and self-determination to Somali women and girls.
Southeast Asian Bilingual Advocates
Southeast Asian Bilingual Advocates (SABAI) works to improve the health and well-being of Southeast Asians through, education, cultural brokering, advocacy, and building capacity for self-advocacy. Working at the grassroots level, SABAI strives to increase access to health care, social services and employment opportunities through programs that are respectful of cultural, individual, family, and community beliefs and practices. BWF’s grant supports SABAI’s project for Women Accessing Employment and Women’s Health. This project will help women to take action to address health and employment barriers by providing women-centered services in the Khmer language. This project builds on SABAI’s ongoing work to empower women in Lowell’s Cambodian community.
Sportsmen’s Tennis Club
Founded in 1961 to introduce tennis to low-income inner city Boston youth, Sportsmen’s Tennis Club was the first non-profit African-American owned and operated tennis club in the country. HEY SISTER, a project of Sportsmen’s Tennis Club, is an enrichment and community activism program for girls, ages 10 – 18, who reside in Dorchester and surrounding communities. In response to negative images that focus on poverty, teen pregnancy and violence in their neighborhoods, HEY SISTER creates a space where girls can define and reframe themselves and their community. The program focuses on developing leadership skills through participation in intramural sports and community action projects. Participants are involved in taking personal and community action on a variety of issues including nutrition, fitness, sexuality, tobacco and substance abuse, and dating and domestic violence.
St. Mary’s Women and Children’s Center
The GRLZ Radio, Broadcasting & Music Production Program is a nationally recognized radio station and after school program committed to violence prevention and girls leadership training. A program of St. Mary’s Women and Children’s Center of Dorchester, GRLZ Radio responds to the needs of young women of the community by providing a safe environment rich with challenges and comprehensive in its exposure to a range of life opportunities – all the while ensuring that teenage girls have an opportunity to develop a positive voice. At GRLZ Radio, young women receive the technical, organizational, leadership skills necessary for them to produce and air a radio, and speak out on issues important to them as urban teens. GRLZ Radio gives young women the tools to make their voices heard and provides them with the technical and logistical support to shape their lives and dreams.
Survivors Inc is comprised of a group of low-income women and allies who organize and educate around poverty, welfare and low income survival issues. They combine welfare office outreach and college campus organizing with local and broader grassroots efforts in their quest to build a low- income led and cross class movement for economic justice. Recently, they have hired Vietnamese welfare outreach workers who have helped them to organize within that community and who have begun translating sections of the organization’s newspaper, Survival News into Vietnamese. Special emphasis this year will go toward collecting data about the impact of the Department of Transitional Assistance work requirements. Their goal is to hold the state more accountable around providing meaningful training opportunities that create pathways out of poverty and raise everyone’s standard of living.
Tempest Productions produces innovative theater that illuminates contemporary lives and social issues. Through its collaborative, community-based approach to theater production, Tempest Productions raises awareness and builds grassroots support for changing the status quo, especially on issues that effect women and girls. BWF’s grant supports Body & Sold: Talking with Communities, 2006. Building on the success of Body & Sold: Part 2, a play about US domestic child prostitution and trafficking, Talking with Communities, 2006, is an interactive social justice theater project targeted at middle school girls at high risk of sexual exploitation. In collaboration with the New Pilot Middle School in Dorchester and A Way Back in Roxbury, this theater project will engage middle school girls in education, discussion, creative expression and organizing for change.
Transition House works towards the prevention and cessation of domestic violence through education, outreach and intervention. In the last year, their Dating Violence Intervention Project (DVIP) has established important connections with public and private schools in the Greater Boston area, because school faculty, like teachers and nurses are often the first line responders who can detect the early warning signs of teen dating violence and refer other girls who are at risk for dating violence. The BWF grant will be used to support the DVIP which provides extensive preventive education and direct clinical services to teens, mainly young girls, as a means of breaking the cycle of domestic violence and reducing its long-term harms. The project also has a teen peer leadership component that equips teens with the knowledge and resources needed to act as experts and referral sources.
We’re Educators – A Touch of Class (WEATOC)
WEATOC is a peer education program designed to train, empower and assist youth to reach other youths by using their own language. Through drama, role plays, games and other techniques created by youth, young people learn in real and lasting ways. Funding from BWF supports Sister2Sister, a peer education program that empowers young women of color to be wise, powerful and mutually supportive. It uses drama, education and counseling to teach young women about abuse (which affects most of them), themselves, and their relationships, while empowering them to avoid victimization and improve self-esteem. They train, employ and empower a diverse girls troupe that creates curricula, games and skits to educate peers and also conducts peer counseling. Their many performances, workshops and special events in their community have reached over 4,000 people.
Women Express/Teen Voices
Women Express believes in and cultivates the power of girls and young adult women to create social change through writing and art. Through Teen Voices, a magazine by, for and about teen girls; SHOUT! an out-of-school time journalism mentoring program; and Girls LEAD an outreach component to engage more local girls in writing and activist programming, Women Express creates opportunities for low-income teen girls of color to develop communication and journalism skills and to use these skills to express their point-of-view on critical issues. BWF’s grant will expand Girls LEAD and enable more girls of color to participate in social activism and projects that create alternatives to mainstream media.
Women of Color Fundraising Institute
The Women of Color Fundraising Institute (WOCFI) is a year long skill building and leadership development program which provides essential tools to help women-of-color led organizations remain financially sustainable and organizationally sound. WOCFI provides a supportive environment where community activists learn about fundraising and organizational development in a context that is relevant to the social change focus of their organizations. Building on the success of its graduates, WOCFI alumni provide inspirational role models for incoming participants. BWF’S grant will provide general operating support for WOCFI’s programs including The Institute; the Alumni program; and Lifting as We Climb, a speaker and networking series.
Women’s Institute for Leadership Development
For twenty years, the Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD) has worked to increase social and economic justice for low-income women and people of color by organizing for change within the labor movement. WILD empowers women to overcome and speak out against barriers, and to provide leadership that celebrates democracy and diversity in their workplaces, unions, communities, and in the Massachusetts labor movement. BWF’s grant supports WILD’s work to develop leadership of diverse union women and community activists and its work to strengthen its own organizational infrastructure and capacity. WILD’s work in the community will focus on building relationships with Haitian, Asian, Native American and Cape Verdian activists as well as increasing the participation of Latinas and African-American women.
Women’s Theological Center
Spiritual leadership is often overlooked as a critical aspect of the leadership everyone must exercise in order for all members of society to be in a right relationship with each other. It is a form of leadership that can be practiced by anyone toward the creation of a just society. It does not seek to control but to create authentic relationships. By aligning the internal, interpersonal, institutional and cultural dimensions of our experience, those who practice their spiritual leadership purposefully work through systemic barriers such as racism and sexism in order to create and maintain what is called the “Beloved Community.” WTC’s programs include Leading from Spirit which provides trainings in spiritual leadership development, a Spiritual Resource Center which provides services to deepen spiritual leadership practice, Consulting Services, and Collaborative Projects with other organizations to broaden the impact of spiritual leadership as a tool for creating justice. BWF’s grant is for general operating support.