Tagged: “Community Engagement”

Summertime Can Be Hunger Time

In the United States, 22 million kids get free or reduced-price lunch during the school year. The programs are an essential source of food for many children. However, during summer vacation, only 16 percent of kids who need USDA-funded summer meals can access them, making summer the hungriest time of year for too many children, resulting in long-term consequences.

Many of us remember fondly summer vacations living easy, breezy, carefree days. However, for too many children, summertime can be hunger time. Even though schools are back in session and kids have access to free and reduced-cost lunch programs again, teachers and social workers are seeing firsthand how challenging it is for many parents to feed their families, especially those still out of work and struggling to recover from the pandemic’s economic consequences.

This summer, No Child Goes Hungry is committed to supporting local schools, community organizations, faith-based groups, and grassroots non-profits committed to providing childhood hunger relief in their communities. We’ll be reaching out to little free pantry owners, backpack programs, and other generous organizations to help keep them stocked with the food and supplies they need to keep our children fed until schools re-open their doors this fall.

NCGH is dedicated to the elimination of childhood hunger, one kid, one meal at a time. With funds donated by churches, private organizations, and individuals, NCGH works with faith communities and other organizations to alleviate hunger locally.

Over the past several months, we have begun partnering with heroic organizations to make preparations to ensure continual student meal support over the summer. Some of our current partner programs include:

Peyton Randolph  Elementary School PTA’s Food Pantry

NCGH provided a grant of $1,500 to the Payton Randolph Elementary School to use in a match fundraising drive that raised $4,000 more for a total of $6,500 for the program. With the dollars raised, the PTA now has enough funds to offer food weekly for several months. Rev. Kären Rasmussen first heard of the Randolph Elementary School from her colleague, the Reverend Amanda Poppei. Amanda is the senior minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Arlington, Virginia. Amanda heard about the much-needed work to feed kids in Arlington from Bethany Zecher Sutton, the Randolph Elementary School PTA’s Food Pantry Coordinator, and made the introductions all around. Read More.

“I’ve known Kären for years and have watched her organization grow—especially in the way that she is able to support hyper-local groups as well as bigger non-profits,” said Rev. Poppei. “When Bethany told me about the growing need to feed kids right in her own neighborhood, I just had a feeling these two could collaborate and combine their efforts.”

NCGH Helps Sponsor Intern at Blackburn Community Outreach

NCGH provided a $1,000 grant to Blackburn Community Outreach in Todd, North Carolina, a non-profit 501(c)(3) with a mission to engage and mobilize the Todd Community for social, economic, and environmental vitality. The grant will help financially support the season’s youth apprentice in the organization’s Beatitude Garden. This year’s summer intern, a 16-year old young man named Bebo, who is of Cherokee heritage, will work as an intern in the gardens for ten hours a week for 20 weeks this season.

The YMCA of Walla Walla, WA

NCGH provided a $1000 donation to the Young Men’s Christian Association of Walla Walla (the “Walla Walla Y”). The funds will be used to purchase snacks and juice for children participating in its newest summer enrichment program in Athena, Oregon. The Walla Walla Y serves 13 rural communities in Washington and nearby Oregon, where over 15 percent of the families are below the poverty level, and over 60 percent of the children qualify for free and reduced lunch programs. For seven to nine weeks each summer, when school is not in session, the Walla Walla Y offers week-long enrichment programs that nurture children ages 5 to 14 and support their cognitive, social, and physical wellbeing. The Walla Walla Y provides nutritious snacks and meals for the children during each day of the program. Read More.

Camelot Elementary School

NCGH supplied non-perishable food items and a shelving storage unit to Camelot Elementary School in Annandale, Virginia. Some may say, “practice what you preach,” but when NCGH Founder and Director Rev. Kären Rasmussen says it, she takes it to heart. When Rev. Rasmussen leads worship in her community, her sermon’s message invites listeners to connect with their local school and see what they need to help feed their kids. Rev. Rasmussen decided she needed to practice what she preaches, so she reached out to the school two blocks from her home to ask how she could help support the food insecurity needs of students’ families. She worked with Rebecca Stebbins of the Camelot Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) Food Pantry on behalf of No Child Goes Hungry to provide much-needed food and new shelving for their school’s food pantry. Read More.

Still, more help is desperately needed. The need is vast, and it continues to grow. We feed kids, one meal at a time. It matters. Every meal matters.

NCGH provides grant money and mentorship opportunities so that community organizations can build hunger advocacy programs that will thrive and grow as their communities continue to tackle the problem of local food insecurity. Such sustainable programs include afterschool backpack programs, little free pantries, community food pantries, and donation programs.

NCGH also strives to educate the community on food insecurity issues and arm people with the knowledge to help. NCGH offers age-appropriate lesson plans to help local organizations to talk to people of all ages about the issue of food insecurity, helping to fuel future generations of childhood hunger advocates. The lesson plans are designed for schools, churches, or any group that would like to learn more about what they can do to eliminate childhood hunger in their community and are available to use at no cost. Lesson plans are available for Preschool-Kindergarten, Grades 1-3, Grades 4-7, Grades 8-12, and Adults.

Let’s Feed Some Kids!

Insulated Coveralls for the Homeless

At Grenfell Ministries we are a Unitarian Universalist outreach in Hamilton, Ontario.

Due to assistance from Cantex Distribution (a company in Niagara) we have been able to secure a really great deal on quilted, insulated coveralls and instead of paying $250 a pair we are able to pay $40 a pair. With four thousand dollars we can put 100 of these on the street for folks suffering this winter with homelessness. We have already place 25 into circulation and have ordered 30 more.

Grenfell Ministries, a Unitarian Universalist faith-based Ministry that aims to provide support to marginalized communities through programming that focuses on seniors, youth, those experiencing homelessness folks who use substances, and those who are or were formerly incarcerated. We serve with integrity, compassion and promote individuality and self-empowerment. We are committed to building communities through advocacy and activism.

We are a peer-run, peer-led organization that strives to improve the quality of life for those we serve on their terms. In solidarity, we offer organized voices of lived experience in the hopes of encouraging programming, policy adaptation and to reduce stigma and discrimination. We collaborate with various organizations and services to assist folks with meeting their needs and offer grief support to families who have lost loved ones to the overdose epidemic on an individual and group basis.

​Our projects have received funding in part by the Fund for Unitarian Universalist Social Responsibility, United Way Phase 2 and Phase 3 Funding for COVID-19 pandemic response and the Hamilton Community Foundation.

Uptown Community Podcast

The Uptown Community Podcast (UCP) raises Unitarian Universalism and its values in discussing the legacy and future of its community. UCP has recently doubled its listenership across generations. Although this podcast is called the “Uptown” community podcast, the ideas expressed have much broader appeal.

The UCP is a program of The Peoples Church and Preston Bradley Center. The building also houses a transitional housing shelter, artist studios, performance spaces, and other churches. The content of UCP is similarly active in its promotion of the arts, culture, and the inherent value of every person.

The building is named for Rev. Dr. Preston Bradley and is located in Uptown, Chicago. He led one of the first broadcast ministries in the country and also provided radio stations with short inspirational messages. His charismatic preaching helped Chicago through The Great Depression and WWII. The UCP offers contemporary commentary on his messages and Unitarian faith. The UCP reviews these short inspirational messages in-between conversations with Uptown’s own inspirational community. 

The UCP is a recipient of the Unitarian Universalist Funding program. Additional funding is needed for updated hardware, simultaneous recording, and costs for streaming and hosting digital content. Would you give generously to spread the good news of Unitarian Universalism in Uptown?

Unity Means Community: Not In Our Town

Local organizations are coming together to lift up black voices in Portage County: Unity Means Community: Not In Our Town

Our goal is to raise $3000 to be used by the Portage County NAACP chapter for communications (Zoom conferencing, social media, printing & SWAG, sound amplification for in-person events). This will support efforts to amplify the voices of Black Kent State students, to enfranchise Black neighborhoods with Get-Out-the-Vote campaigns, and will provide seed money for future efforts.

Collaborators: Black United Students, Kent State Undergraduate Student Government, Kent Interfaith Alliance for Racial Reconciliation and Justice, Allies for Racial Reconciliation and Justice,  Kent League of Women Voters, along with the primary organization, the Portage County NAACP.

UU community ministers the Rev. Renee Ruchotzke and the Rev. Christie Anderson (affiliated with the UU Church of Kent) are affiliated with the Portage County NAACP chapter.

Assist Iowans Recovering from the Derecho

DISASTER RELIEF CAMPAIGN: ALL donations will be processed immediately

(Please see Update tab for more information)

Low-income apartment building destroyed by the storm Low-income apartment building destroyed by the storm

No one expected hurricane force winds of up to 140 miles per hour to blow through Iowa August 10. While many members of People’s Unitarian Universalist Church had no power for a week and damage to their homes and trees, they are most concerned with those who had lost their homes, particularly those most vulnerable.

Immigrant resident shares his story of the storm Immigrant resident shares his story of the storm

Low income families, including immigrants and refugees spent a week in tents after their housing was destroyed. Still homeless, this population faces food insecurity. In addition, some families have lost all the contents of their homes when a roof blew off their apartment building.

Our Faithify campaign promises to provide relief by directing all of the money pledged to non-profit organizations in the community hit by this storm that ravaged one third of Iowa. These organizations include the Hawkeye Area Community Action Program, the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund, and the CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Bank, as well as the food bank of the People’s UU Church. The funds will be distributed where there is the most need. We invite all to open your hearts and reach out to those in such dire need.

Unitarian Universalists lend a hand with a lunch distribution Unitarian Universalists lend a hand with a lunch distribution

How is this project connected to UU?

Our principles inspire us to reach out to others with justice, equity and dignity, to strive toward peace and liberty for everyone, and recognize that we are all a part of an interdependent web. We cannot ignore the deep injustices and indignity of those most in need made worse by an unexpected storm of unprecedented magnitude.

The People’s UU Church in Cedar Rapids started their own food pantry to address food insecurity in the community. This congregation also and has long-standing associations and support for both the Hawkeye Area Community Action Program and the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund. Nearby in Coralville, the UU Society regularly sends volunteers and financial support to CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Bank.

Saving Split Rock

Stretch Goal Added- See details below

Near and dear to the Ramapough Lenape Indian Nation is their sacred site of Split Rock or Tahetaway, which means The Gate that Opens. It is considered a power point for gaining wisdom and understanding. Ancestors would meet there and powwow out their decisions.

This ancient rock formation is central to a series of giant turtle formations, which line up and are just off summer sunrise solstice. The stones had been shaped, modified and put into position. There are two astronomical alignments still functioning. According to anthropologist David Johnson from Poughkeepsie this site qualifies for a national historic preservation.

Relatives from the Andes have implored the Ramapough to reactivate this portal for the healing of the people and Mother Earth. In keeping with their indigenous traditions, on June 20, 2020, a sunrise ceremony was held at Split Rock with Unity Earth to begin reactivating this sacred site.  Unity Earth is traveling around the globe, engaging with Indigenous nations and peoples for the healing of human kind and Mother Earth.

Our goal is to support the reactivation of this sacred site. Plans are for a large ceremonial tipi to be erected at the site for hosting ceremonies. This will allow relatives from the global community to visit and offer prayers and blessings. The cost of the tipi is $3,000.00.

At this year’s UUA General Assembly, an Action of Immediate Witness, “400 Years of White Supremacist Colonialism” addresses the white colonial settler history and effects on Indigenous nations and people’s. Excerpt:

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that we, the delegates of the 2020 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association, call upon the Unitarian Universalist Association and its member congregations to:

Continue to gather in solidarity with the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, Standing Rock nation, and all Indigenous peoples struggling to preserve their lands, waters, peoples, sacred sites, and sovereignty.

Continue to push for release of Indigenous Water Protectors from prisons, end public policies that criminalize resistance to extractive colonialism, and adopt a vision of prison abolition.

Work nationally, statewide, and locally on public policy that is decolonizing – such as establishing Indigenous Peoples Day, including Indigenous peoples’ histories in public education curricula, and eliminating racist monuments, flags, and mascots.

Work to stop and reverse ecological harm in genuine collaboration with and taking leadership from communities most consistently and harshly impacted by extractive exploitation of land, water, air, and all beings.

Research, identify, and acknowledge the Indigenous peoples historically and/or currently connected with the land occupied by congregations, and find ways to act in solidarity with or even partner with those Indigenous peoples.

Examine practices relative to Indigenous people’s histories, cultures, spiritual traditions, and rights must be respected. Unitarians and Universalists seek to be more inclusive and accountable.

This is a new project in support of the Ramapough Lenape Indian Nation, honoring their culture and traditions, working towards saving their sacred site. As Unitarian Universalists, we are called to work with communities marginalized by our society. Our call to justice, particularly in 2020 with the anniversary of the Mayflower landing, asks of us to support Indigenous Nations which have suffered great harm from the time of first contact through to today. Our Anti- Racism work must go further than our own congregations to support the call of Native Nations as they protect their sacred sites and work to renew Mother Earth. This is our present work in the UUA, and my ministry serves to support this; our Associations progressive stance is aligned with creating a world community.


We are also aligned with efforts to heal the environment due to the climate crisis. This goal and the spiritual practices of the Ramapough Lenape are intrinsic to the goal of healing Mother Earth for seven generations into the future. We are grateful to the Unitarian Universalist Association for providing this platform for us to fund raise.

For more information on the Ramapough Lenape, view #612, On Demand video from 2020 General Assembly. Also view American Native or Mann v. Ford, both on Amazon Prime. Anushiik! (Thank You!)

Volunteers cancel, Guatemala town struggles

Named after the Brazilian environmental activist, Chico Mendes, who lost his life protecting the rainforests, the Chico Mendes Reforestation Project was started in 1998, when the loss of forests and its consequences were evident to those living in Pachaj, Guatemala. This community is located near Quetzaltenango, in the Northwest Highlands of Guatemala.  Jorge Armando Lopez Pocol, a respected forester, and his family established a nursery and organizes the village as well as international volunteers to plant seeds, grow seedlings, and protect trees. The average number of trees planted each year in the last five years is 15,000. Currently, Jorge Armando has 40,000 trees ready to be planted.

One of Jorge Armando’s main goals is to plant the pinabete tree on the mountainside near his community.  The pinabete is the one tree where the rare Quetzal, national bird of Guatemala, will nest.  Planting the pinabete thwarts mining companies from destroying the mountainsides and will ensure good water quality for the village.

See the Chico Mendes website:  https://www.chicomendesguatemala.org

Because of the pandemic, nine volunteer groups scheduled to plant trees in Guatemala for The Chico Mendes Reforestation Project have canceled. This is devastating for a community that is living on the edge.  The Project depends on volunteer groups to transfer seedlings and to plant young trees, which in turn helps support the reforesting of the mountainsides.  In addition, income for the community is generated when volunteers pay to stay with families and take Spanish language classes. Without this income, the families and Spanish teachers will lack funds to feed their families.

From the three service-learning trips, many in our congregation have ties to the Chico Mendes Reforestation Project and have been supportive in past fundraisers.  Our UU accreditation as a Green Sanctuary congregation was due in part from this partnership.  In addition, we are knowledgeable about other groups who have traveled or were planning to travel there this spring and summer.  We are also well connected to various environmental groups and will communicate the needs of this project to them.

The funds raised will go for seeds, fertilizer, tools, supplies, and staff salaries to maintain the young trees and protect the forests.  Families who provide homestays and Spanish teachers will be compensated.

Contributions and support now will ensure the continuation and survival of the Chico Mendes Reforestation project.  The welfare of these community members and the protection of fragile ecosystems in the Guatemala Highlands also depend on contributions to weather the current crisis caused by the pandemic.  In the future groups will again take trips and plant trees with the villagers of Pachaj, hosted by Jorge Armando.

Testimonials:

“When I was in Guatemala, I observed the Chico Mendes group grow healthy seedlings and plant trees where they had been cut down.  Reforestation is an important job for humanity in terms of climate change.”  -Dr. John Hartman, Plant Pathologist Emeritus, University of Kentucky

“The Chico Mendes Reforestation Project not only provides clean air and water for the local people, but it also sends the message that sustainability is possible if everyone contributes.  By donating to this cause, you will be improving the local people’s quality of life and showing the world how vital sustainability is for our well being”.  -Justine Reschly, High School senior

“What most impressed me about the Chico Mendes Reforestation Project in Guatemala was the engagement and investment in youth.  They didn’t just work on reforestation, but they educated, hired, and mentored youth to participate in their work.  They understand the importance of youth education and involvement to bring change in future generations. “ -Meredith Gall, parent and participant

“The Chico Mendes Reforestation Project is as much a community and social justice effort as it is an environmental justice organization. Planting trees and protecting the environment is intimately related to protecting and providing for the local community. The connection with the local community both supports Chico Mendes and also provides a community stake in both the project and their environment. Our family’s connection with the community was good for us, them and, I firmly believe, the wider world.” -Dan Gall, parent and participant

Roundtable Revival Mentoring Program for Persons Who are Reentering the Community 

Persons returning to the community face significant barriers rebuilding their lives after experiencing contact with the criminal justice system (Coates, 2015). Examples include those citizens on probation or parole or those returning to the community after a period of incarceration in jail or prison. These challenges are being magnified by the COVID-19 epidemic.

Currently in Eau Claire County, WI, we do not have a comprehensive reentry program that can serve those being released from jail or prison, so even a brief jail stay could result in the loss of housing, employment, family disruption, health care coverage, or transportation. Recent estimates suggest that each year 15-20 women return to the Eau Claire area after release from prison. In 2017, the Eau Claire County Jail released 4,916 people. Roundtable Revival has a goal of providing resources and programming to support reintegration into the community and reduce recidivism.

We will ultimately offer a variety of reentry programs, including the Mentoring Program, Reentry Peer Support, a First Stop program for people being released from jail, and an alcohol-free tavern as a place where people can gather in the evening to socialize, relax, and have fun. Roundtable Revival utilizes a foundation of Certified Peer Support Specialists. Training for the Peer Support Specialist is provided by the State of Wisconsin and their hours are billable through Medical Assistance. These specialists have the advantage of having personal experience with the criminal justice system and have been trained in understanding the available community resources. Ultimately, we hope that any added programs will contribute to the goal of empowering returning citizens and enhancing their overall physical and mental health. We want to offer them the opportunity for an equal place at our roundtable.

Objectives: For the Mentoring Program, we plan to draw upon the power of a mentoring relationship to empower persons as they seek to negotiate the challenges of obtaining housing, employment, substance use and alcohol misuse treatment, healthcare, mental health treatment, and other needed resources. Funds raised will be used for start-up and initial operational expenses. The outcomes will consist of a tracking success across the areas of individual need and an evaluation of the mentoring program by the mentors and mentees.

Mentoring Program Design: The program will be modeled after similar successful programs, best practices, and evidence-based models. Area churches and congregations, the Synagogue and the Mosque as well as the general community will be approached for support by providing weekly meals, Life Skills presenters, and Mentors. The program will meet weekly at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Eau Claire for three hours with each session consisting of socializing and sharing a meal, group support and life story sharing, an educational presentation on life skills, and individual mentoring. Mentors will be trained prior to each cycle and will be asked to attend group mentor meetings periodically during the cycle. The initial focus will be providing a safe space for adult females who volunteer and are accepted into the program. If there is enough interest, a second site will serve adult men. We envision conducting  mentoring program cycles in the fall and spring. A graduation ceremony will be held at the conclusion of each cycle.

All mentors will be asked to complete an initial six-hour workshop training. Group meetings of Mentors will occur prior to the weekly meetings every third week of the program duration. Mentors will be given a manual with a mentor job description and training materials.

Expected outcomes: Our mission is: To cultivate inclusive, accepting, and empowering spaces WITH people who face barriers due to a conviction history: Facilitating full reintegration into our community. We plan to link individuals with community resources for housing, employment, substance use and alcohol misuse treatment, mental health treatment, and other needed resources. An overall goal of Roundtable Revival is to foster a more responsive and collaborative system for the employment, housing, mental health, healthcare, and substance use and alcohol misuse treatment needs of returning citizens.  In addition, we will instill a sense of community and belonging among individuals who are returning citizens.

How the project will be sustained: The Eau Claire County Department of Human Services operates two programs that will be a source of collaboration and support, The Comprehensive Community Services (CCS) and Community Support Program (CSP). We have also established a beginning relationship with the Eau Claire County Jail, the State of Wisconsin, Department of Corrections, Probation and Parole and The Transition Center (day treatment center) in Eau Claire. Roundtable Revival is incorporated as a State of Wisconsin, certified nonprofit social service agency or 501(c)3.

Bounty for Babies Forever

Bounty for Babies Forever

 A justice project of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ellsworth (UUCE)

In December 2019, after learning that families who needed food and supplies for babies were having to be turned away from the Loaves & Fishes food pantry due to inability to stock these products, UUCE launched a very successful Reverse Advent justice project in which the congregation was asked to donate specific foods and supplies for babies daily during Advent. The items were donated to Loaves & Fishes food pantry, and distributed as needed to the families served by the pantry. This project was a big success, and generated over $2000 in cash and goods.  Our church has committed to continuing the project into perpetuity by asking congregants for weekly donations as baby items get used from the Loaves & Fishes stock. Our goal is to ensure that no family goes without obtaining the needed food, diapers and health care supplies for their babies.  This project is run under the auspices of our Peace and Social Action committee and is managed by the Bounty for Babies Task Force.

Although the project has only been in existence for two months, we have already made a huge difference in the lives of families in our community.  Since its inception, no one has had to be denied items they need for their babies.  The program serves over 30 families each month and, at the request of the families served, has been expanded to include food and supplies for toddlers.  Additionally, we provide Birthday Bags, which contain a small toy and the supplies needed to bake a birthday cake, to parents of children of any age.

To date, this project has been fully funded by UUCE.  A very generous anonymous donor has now come forward with a proposal to match up to $5000 in donated funds to support the Bounty for Babies project, and to form the basis through which it can be sustained.

Please support us as we strive to raise the matching funds so that we can carry this project far into the future.  In honor of this donation, and with the hope and expectation that we will reach our goal to match the funds, we are renaming the project Bounty for Babies Forever.

One New Mexico Gospel Choir/Challenge Grant

Stretch Goal Added!  See details below.

Kelontae Gavin joins our final rehearsal!

In collaboration with New Mexico Black History Organizing Committee, First Unitarian applied for and received a grant from the UU Fund for Social Responsibility, to support this year’s production of the One New Mexico Gospel Choir concert featuring guest artist Kelontae Gavin. The concert draws singers from over a dozen churches in Albuquerque, including several predominantly Black churches. All leaders in the project are African American musicians with deep grounding in historical and contemporary gospel music. The goal is to come together as a community and forge ongoing relationships, through the power of Black gospel music. For white musicians who participate, it is an opportunity to learn about and honor the history of Black gospel music. The project culminates in a free concert that attracts an audience from all over the city, part of Albuquerque’s Black History Month Festival.

Our grant and matching grant money will cover concert expenses, for example: hall rental, band musicians, fee and travel expenses for our guest artist.

All Souls’ Children’s...

Nowhere is the shadow of racism longer in American than when it comes to educational disparities. You can change this.

Our six-week, evidence-based program, developed by the Children’s Defense Fund, has been proven through rigorous research to improve literacy skills, build character and engage parents. During our first two summers, All Souls hosted the only CDF Freedom School in the state of Indiana. In 2017, we got 501(c)3 status, and in 2018, our parternship launched a second site. This will be our fifth summer offering this impactful program.

Thanks to our donors last year, 84% of our scholars experienced no summer-learning loss of gained literacy skills. Normally their peers would lose 2-3 months of reading ability; such summer learning loss, compounded year-after-year accounts for 50% of the achievement gap. Faithify is our single largest individual donor source, covering just over 20% of our program costs. $125 covers the cost of a scholar’s program for one week. Thank you for helping us mitigate the educational disparity gap that keeps so many of our children behind.

There have been three waves of “Freedom Schools” in American history, and Unitarian Universalists have been part of all three. Northern whites, often women, went to the South soon after emancipation to teach formally-enslaved persons to read. Then in 1964, as part of the Mississippi Freedom Summer, the National Council of Churches and SNCC formed summer “Freedom Schools,” focused specifically on literacy, humanities, science and math. These schools, often “taught” by white, northern college students, also had a larger purpose: to show young, Southern black Americans that they were valued and to engage them in community problem-solving.

The Children’s Defense Fund has initiated the third wave with the development a modern, evidence-based summer learning and family engagement model. The model retains the historical focus on offering a culturally-appropriate program designed to empower and promote civic engagement and literacy. The model is defined by five essential components:

  • High-quality academic enrichment, which includes age- and culturally-appropriate books that are part of an Integrated Reading Curriculum involving reinforcing activities, field trips and games.
  • Parent and family involvement at multiple levels, from morning introductory activities to classroom assistance to supporting community projects.
  • Social action and civic engagement by our children and youth so that they are prepared to be active citizens. Participants engage in solving community problems and do social justice work, including through a Children’s Defense Fund yearly National Day of Social Action.
  • Intergenerational servant leadership development, by engaging college students and recent graduates to deliver the program, many of whom have had Freedom School experience themselves.
  • Nutrition, health and mental health, by requiring programs to provide—at a minimum—two USDA-compliant meals and a snack each day of operation, while training staff to recognize the importance of providing therapeutic health and mental health services.

With your financial support, All Souls Unitarian Church would offer six-weeks of programming for 40 school-age children in summer 2020. Indianapolis has pervasive educational and opportunity disparities and our congregation sits in a high-need community. The church is in close proximity to two struggling public elementary schools. Robert Lee Frost is 87% African-American and over 80% free and reduced-price lunch. In 2014, only 51% of students passed both English and Math in ISTEP. Only 65% of students passed the IREAD-3. At Brook Park, 76% of students are African-American or Hispanic and over 76% qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Only 52% passed ISTEP in 2014. Opportunity disparities in is high. Nearly 25% of individuals in the All Souls zip code (46226) live in poverty and nearly 40% of children live at or below the poverty level. We know from national-level research that poverty is correlated with fewer summer learning and other enrichment opportunities.

All Souls has already begun to build a diverse coalition of organizations and individuals committed to making a Freedom School a permanent fixture in Indianapolis. Our partners include, but are not limited to, the Indianapolis Freedom School Partnership (the umbrella organization we helped form), the neighborhood elementary schools near the church, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Indianapolis, neighborhood organizations, the League of Women Voters, the Indianapolis Public Library, and the education departments of Indiana University, Butler University, and Marion University.

“Indiana Black Expo, as the backbone support organization for the Your Life Matters Initiative, is in full support of All Souls’ endeavors with the development of a Freedom School in Indianapolis.” – Tanya Bell President & CEO Indiana Black Expo, Inc.

“The development of a Freedom School in Indianapolis is an important service and support for youth in the northeast part of our city. I applaud All Souls Unitarian Church for its vision and for making social justice visible for children who need a supportive community and gifts that participation in a Freedom School provides.” – Dr. Cindy Jackson, Positive Discipline Coordinator, IPS district, and member of the education committee of the Your Life Matters Task Force

Nurture Justice Ministry in NH!

The mission of UU Action New Hampshire is to amplify Unitarian Universalist voices and values in the public square throughout New Hampshire. After running for two years as an entirely volunteer organization, this spring, we hired Tristan Husby as our first Executive Director, in order to take our work to the next level. Your donations will help us fund Tristan’s new position, which is funded in large part by a matching grant from the Fund for Unitarian Universalist Social Responsibility.

As our only staff member, Tristan is growing our organization through relationships, education, and action.

Our goal is to build and sustain relationships with communities directly impacted by the injustices we oppose: Tristan will deepen our connection with the immigrant communities in New Hampshire, which we have formed through our work on the NH Immigrant Solidarity Network as well as the NH Bail and Bond Fund.

In the 2019-2020 church year, Tristan will travel to UU congregations across New Hampshire, both our member congregations and currently unaffiliated congregations. By building these intra-faith relationships, Tristan will foster collaboration among congregations and ensure that churches share effective methods and actions with each other.

He will also remain in touch with our membership by maintaining our online presence, including our newsletter, website and social media accounts. Through these channels, Tristan will ensure NH UUs know when and how to contact their elected representatives on bills such as granting drivers licenses to immigrants without social security numbers and raising the cap on net-metering.

In collaboration with partners such as the UU College of Social Justice, Rights and Democracy NH and others, Tristan will host workshops designed to sharpen the skills and analyses of NH UUs to make effective change. We currently have such workshops scheduled for Saturday, October 5.

Finally, Tristan will help UUANH foster new projects, particularly around climate justice in NH.

Your donation today will ensure that we can support all of this programming, as well as administrative work, that is necessary to take our State Action Network to a new level.