Tagged: “Economic Justice”

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.

Champaign County COVID-19 Relief

DISASTER RELIEF CAMPAIGN:

ALL donations will be processed immediately

(NO ALL-OR NOTHING GOAL FOR THIS CAMPAIGN)

Food insecurity has skyrocketed in Champaign County as a result of the outbreak of COVID-19. The Social Action Committee of the Unitarian Church of Urbana-Champaign has created a Faithify crowdfunding campaign to help ease the suffering and uncertainties of families in our community experiencing hardship.

We have selected three organizations whose outreach to families in our community are both reliable and effective. They are

  • CU Better Together
  • CU FAIR’s Pandemic Response Fund
  • Channing Murray’s Bucket Brigade

Funds during this campaign will be shared equally among these organizations. Our goal is to collect at least $10,000 in this initial round of fundraising. We will continue to offer this as rolling 30 day campaigns to meet the ongoing needs of these organizations.

Many of us have, or will be receiving checks from the government as part of the recent relief package passed by Congress.  Would you be willing to donate some – or potentially all – of those funds to our campaign?

Even if you aren’t receiving a stimulus check, but are looking for the best way to help those in our community who are in need, this campaign will target the funds where they are needed. In Illinois the peak of the virus impact is going to be mid-May to mid-Jun so now is a critical time to act.

Thank you in advance for your generosity.

Social Action Committee
Unitarian Church of Urbana-Champaign

CU-Better Together

CU-Better Together is a combined effort of several organizations to support families with school-aged children who are suffering from food insecurity during the pandemic. This project is designed to work within the food distribution structure set up by the Champaign and Urbana School Districts. It utilizes the large spaces available at the Stone Creek Church and the Vineyard Church for organizing food. Large initial donations came from United Way, the Community Foundation, the Stephens Family YMCA, and the C-U Schools Foundation. Several local churches and other organizations are supporting this project.

CU FAIR Pandemic Response Fund

Thousands of undocumented immigrants in our community do not qualify for unemployment benefits, and they are among those who need our help. Champaign Urbana Friends and Allies of Immigrants and Refugees (CU FAIR) has established a Pandemic Response Fund.  They are working with local organizations such as the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, the PTA Council of Champaign, and the Immigration Justice Task Force of the Unitarian Church of Urbana-Champaign to provide food and other support to our immigrant and refugee families.

Your funds will be used to purchase and deliver groceries and hygiene and health supplies, free of charge. Information about COVID-19 and how to access healthcare resources that has been translated into Spanish, French and English will be inserted into grocery bags, and emergency cash assistance is provided to those most in need.

Channing Murray Bucket Brigade

Channing-Murray has been preparing a #bucketbrigade of essential grocery deliveries for extremely low-income families in Urbana who are recommended by staff at the Champaign Township Office and the Cunningham Township Supervisor’s Office. These buckets have beans, rice, cereal, soup, eggs, and often some prepared meals.  Each and every item is sanitized, then delivered to the doorsteps of the families served.

Channing-Murray has been C-U’s home for social justice programming over many years, and now there is no better time to put our values into action!  Your contributions will be considered a part of a local movement, to provide aid, to be courageous, and to choose a spirit of generosity over scarcity.

Social Differencing, No Child Goes Hungry Making a Difference during COVID-19

According to NPR, as of April 23, 26 Million Americans have lost their jobs due to the novel coronavirus. Also, nearly 35 million children who rely on school-based nutrition and financial assistance lost access to vital services when COVID-19 forced states to shut school doors. As a result, millions of American families are being forced to choose between heating their homes and putting food on their table, and critical financial and health aid resources are being rapidly depleted.

No Child Goes Hungry is committed to filling the gaps for food-insecure families across the nation during the COVID-19 pandemic by partnering with local non-profits to launch innovative programs that ensure that families are getting enough nutritious food and that no child goes to bed hungry.

Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), we have received over 17 requests for funding of community-based hunger advocacy initiatives. Many of the applications represent new partnerships with innovative, passionate, and persistent community leaders looking to make a difference in society and fill the hunger gap caused by COVID-19.

So far during the pandemic, NCGH has already funded several grant requests, totaling $8,500 which include such initiatives as:

  • The addition of a Little Free Pantry on the grounds of All Souls Unitarian Church in Washington, DC.
  • Both food for the immediate need and funds for the startup of a new community garden with The Good News Community Kitchen in Occoquan, VA.
  • Funds to the Bull Run Unitarian Universalists to build a Little Free Pantry.
  • Partnering with Food for Neighbors located in Reston, VA, to help them as they supplement breakfasts and lunches to school children in need.
  • Funded a Little Free Pantry in Tylertown, Mississippi, which will be placed on the property of Velma Jeans Chicken and Waffle House.
  • Partnered with So What Else to provide both funds for food for its Little Free Pantry in Rockville, MD, and also to help provide bags of food for kids in the inner city of Baltimore, MD.
  • Sent funding to the Children’s Learning Center in Jackson, WY, which is using their van to drop off bags of food for their kids in need. So many of their parents are out of work.
  • Supplied a grant to help My Why in Cincinnati, OH, as they raise funds for a van to drive much needed donated fruit and vegetables to their inner-city families.

While these partnerships are creating an impact in communities in need and helping us make a social difference, we aren’t nearly ready to stop. With more requests being received monthly, we need your help raising more funds to share with non-profit organizations across the nation that are ready to roll up their sleeves and ideate and execute grassroots solutions to the exacerbated issue of hunger caused by COVID-19.

Please know that any donation in any amount makes a significant impact. The average cost to feed a child a school lunch is only $3.41. Our commitment is to end childhood hunger one child, one meal at a time, and our pledge to our donors is to use every dollar raised in this campaign to fund our community grants.

Please, help us make a difference during COVID-19.

Let’s feed some kids!

Unitarian Universalist Songleaders Convergence 2020

UPDATE May 1 : DUE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC, THIS CAMPAIGN HAS BEEN CLOSED. ANY PLEDGES MADE WILL NOT BE PROCESSED. THANK YOU.


UPDATE 4/29:  It is with heavy hearts that we must share with you that the Association for Unitarian Universalist Music Ministries Annual Conference in Ann Arbor has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the first time in 38 years that we will not gather together to share our riches of talent and friendship. Read the full statement here.


We’re excited to bring the Songleaders Convergence back to the Association for Unitarian Universalist Music Ministries Conference to share skills, best practices, wisdom, and of course, songs! The Convergence offers days of learning and networking to nurture a deeper culture of community singing in our congregations and wider community.

We’re asking our wider UU community to help us with a match grant. A match grant means that if we meet our $6,000 goal, the UU Funding program will match it with ANOTHER $6,000! This means if you give $20, you’re actually contributing $40! 

We’re inviting songleaders from across our Faith and all those who love community singing to converge for what promises to be a transformative gathering of resonance, harmony, and rhythm. The Convergence scholarship opportunities are aimed at making it possible for new leaders and participants of color who may not otherwise have the chance to participate to be with us in a community of growth and welcome.

Money raised will provide scholarships for leaders and participants of color and for first time attendees to the AUUMM Conference. 

What can attendees expect?

  • Confident & invitational songleading
  • Songleading for worship and in the streets
  • Deepening cultural context, story, worship, and preaching through songleading
  • Harmony singing, vocal technique, circle songs, and more!

Who’s invited?

  • Ministers and seminarians
  • Religious Educators
  • Choir members and singers
  • Musicians both professional and recreational
  • Anyone leading or wanting to lead songs in worship, around the dinner table, at the board meeting, or in the streets
  • You!

Open FirstSteps Re-entry House for People Returning Home From Prison to Champaign Co, Illinois

-See Stretch Goal info below and News (with photos!) in the Update tab –

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Urbana-Champaign (UUCUC) is partnering with FirstFollowers to open FirstSteps, a re-entry house for people returning to our community after incarceration. UUCUC has already committed $5500 for this desperately needed program.  Many other congregations, community organizations, and government programs are also supporting this cause.  Funds raised from this Faithify campaign will be used to cover startup and operational expenses. The FirstSteps house is scheduled to open this Fall.  They have already raised 85% of the funds needed to open, this Faithify campaign could get them to 100%. Please consider supporting the FirstSteps home and sharing this campaign with your network.

FirstFollowers is a local non-profit supporting people returning to the community from incarceration.  Over the years of providing peer mentorship to people leaving prison, they recognized a stark need for housing.

Housing is very scarce for those with any history of criminal justice system involvement. Historically, the local Housing Authority has banned formerly incarcerated people from returning to their units, even if they have family members living there. This is slowly changing with advocacy, but the demand for public housing still far outstrips the supply. In Champaign, landlords are legally allowed to refuse to rent to people with certain felony convictions. Other obstacles, like application fees and credit checks, exclude most people returning home from prison. With nearly 400 people on state supervised release in Champaign County, there is a huge need for supportive services.

FirstFollowers is working with the Housing Authority of Champaign County to renovate a home on Ells Street in Champaign. FirstFollowers GoMAD scholars are young people with some criminal justice involvement who are being trained in construction skills.  GoMAD scholars are currently working side-by-side with contractors to ready the FirstSteps home for its first residents.  When the home is complete and enough funds are raised to launch the program, staff and volunteer mentors will welcome up to four residents at a time.

FirstSteps is not just a house or a bed. Individuals living in the house will have the support of FirstFollowers peer mentors. Residents will also be connected with local resources and provided with access to opportunities for employment, training, and education. In addition, peer mentors will help them establish personal plans and goals offering social/emotional support through their networks of allies in the community.

First Followers’ mission is to build strong and peaceful communities by providing support, guidance, and hope to formerly incarcerated people and their loved ones through peer mentorship.

​FirstFollowers offers:

A safe stigma free environment

Peer mentoring

Assistance with employment searches

Job readiness training

Advocacy for individuals with felony convictions

Family reunification

Service referrals

View website:  https://www.firstfollowersreentry.com/

UUCUC is pleased to sponsor this Faithify campaign to help FirstFollowers acquire the necessary funds to make the FirstSteps home a reality.  FirstSteps will not just benefit the residents, but the entire community. We thank you in advance for your support. We hope to have many community members present on FirstSteps opening day, to not only celebrate, but to commit to a continuing partnership. Please read the UU Connections tab to learn how UUCUC came to support FirstFollowers and the FirstSteps transitional house.

“I Hope to...

Update: We have a donor who will match any gift toward completion of this campaign!!


 “I Hope to Find a Way Out”: Bonding out Asylum Seekers in New Hampshire

On August 24, some 200 marchers from four New England states met at the Strafford County detention center in New Hampshire where immigrants are held.  They conducted a mock funeral ceremony for immigrants killed at the Mexican border; as they marched by the prison they could see detainees pressed against the slim rectangular glass windows and hear them pounding against the walls.

The first speaker said:

We gather here today outside the Strafford Detention Center in solidarity, witness, grief, and hope.

We are here in solidarity with our siblings detained within.

We gather here to witness to a broken system that uses black and brown bodies for profit, dehumanizes Muslims, cages children and causes death.

We gather here today to mourn the dead, and we are here today to call for a different future.

The bond fund we are working to create aspires to be part of this different future.

Some immigrants came to New Hampshire just recently, seeking safety after suffering repression at home. Others have lived here for decades, working and raising families. Increasingly, ICE is imprisoning members of both groups. The good news is, many detained immigrants are eligible to be released on bond. But that takes money that they often don’t have. Here are some of their stories. Their names have been changed for their protection:

Harold escaped certain death in the Congo, his home country, for his ethnic identity. His family went into hiding, but Harold fled to the U.S. on a visa —only to be seized by ICE at the NH-Canadian border. His crime? Attempting to cross over to Quebec where people speak French, his native language. Thanks to help from our fund and other supporters, Harold was bonded out and is now living at the UU Church of Manchester while awaiting his day in immigration court. In the meantime, Harold has received his working papers, NH driver’s license, and he has landed a new job.

Sally, from Zimbabwe, was jailed by ICE on a routine traffic stop. She described jail to us as “the worst thing that can happen to a person.” Personal power and choice are taken away. Sally told us that no soap or lotion are provided and there is no opportunity ever to go outside. Officials took her documents and subsequently lost all of them. Sally was bonded out through the help of the United Church of Christ. Recently she had her asylum hearing and she won her case!

John   recently wrote us from the Strafford County detention center, where he’s been held for the past year. It’s been harder than he imagined it could be. “I got detained a month after my daughter’s birth,” he wrote. “I feel that I have failed her as a father. I wasn’t there for her when she needed me. She’s been through two surgeries already before she even turned one year old, and I wasn’t there for her…I am in a dark tunnel. I hope to see the light soon. I don’t know how long I can go on.”

Working in concert with immigrant organizers, UUs from across New Hampshire, and other communities of faith, the New Hampshire Bail and Bond Fund is working to pay immigrant bonds, which can be anywhere between $1,500 and $20,000 per person, and to provide other support to immigrants fighting for asylum.

The need for bond money is as great as the cause is compelling. As John wrote, at the end of his message “Because of you I might be saved. I hope to find a way out.”

Fund Spiritual Growth

The Church of the Larger Fellowship has spread Unitarian Universalism to geographically remote people around the world since World War II, through a monthly 8-page publication known as Quest. Originally funded through denominational coffers, since 1970, Quest has been funded solely by subscribers and supporters of the CLF.

Over the years, many people have asked for waivers for their subscriptions and these are always provided. Currently, 38% of our subscribers, over 1,000 people, are unable to contribute to CLF financially, because they are on fixed incomes, incarcerated, or otherwise financially limited. We want to be able to provide Unitarian Universalism to every person who wants to access our saving faith, and yet postage and printing costs keep rising.

Help us to say yes to all who seek to know Unitarian Universalism through this publication.
Double your impact today! All gifts up to $7,500 will be matched.*

With your gift of $50 (or whatever amount feels right to you) you will allow us to provide Quest to someone who really needs it:


“The world shines brighter than the darkness as long as compassion and understanding touches our cultures and human spirits.”

~Robert, a CLF member currently incarcerated,
writing in response to a Quest article about compassion

Help the world to “shine brighter.”
Help us bring Quest wherever our saving faith is needed.
Give today and double your impact. All gifts will be matched up to $7,500!*

* Thanks to the Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock for their generous challenge gift.

Create Justice, Not...

Buffalo, NY and the surrounding Western New York region is one of the most segregated areas in the country. There are sharp divides here that separate people by race and class. The work that UU Class Conversations is doing to educate Unitarian Universalists on race and class divisions and how to make changes toward becoming more inclusive will be a vital and important collaboration that will help Unitarian Universalists in Western New York work more effectively toward dismantling systems of racism and class oppression.

Our goal is to raise money to off-set the cost of bringing UU Class Conversations’ “Create Justice, Not Walls” workshop to Buffalo on November 10, 2018. We want to be able to provide this programming to anyone who wants to attend, regardless of income status. With a successful campaign, we will be able to off-set the cost of the workshop and provide this essential programming to a wider audience.

Kansas Poor People’s Campaign Legal Fund

The Kansas Poor People’s Campaign is a participant in the national Poor People’s Campaign.  With cities across the state participating, including Wichita, Manhattan, Lawrence, Topeka, Lenexa, Kansas City Kansas, and many participants from rural towns as well, our campaign highlighted the issues of poverty, racism, militarism and the environment and the way in which they are linked.

With weekly press conferences and rallies, we organized moral direct action/civil disobedience designed to draw attention to the conditions in Kansas and across the country that are causing inequality to increase and creating barriers to civic participation.  In one action, we occupied the conference room of Kris Kobach, one our state’s most infamous leaders whose voter suppression policies have been touted nationally to conservative leaders trying to decrease the voter turnout of communities of color and communities of poverty.  In addition, his anti-immigrant policies and anti-LGBTQ policies  and pro-gun policies have been among the worst ideas to be introduced in our state and beyond.

We visited the Governor’s office and pointed out the ongoing refusal of our state’s leadership to expand Medicaid to the 150,000 people in Kansas (many of whom are disabled and/or working) who fall in the gap between the ACA and our current Medicaid qualifications.  We stood in front of our Department of Children and Families and highlighted the extremes issues we have had with this agency and as well as the work overload it faces due to the increase in poverty in our state and systemic underfunding by our legislature.  2,000 more kids are in foster care because parents can’t afford childcare and are working too much to try to make ends meet.  Our agency has lied and purposely hidden information about child deaths in abuse cases that were inadequately investigated.  Missing foster care kids and contractors keeping kids in offices overnight when they unable to place them have also been hallmarks of this dysfunctional institution.  We highlighted the simultaneous hyper funding of military efforts around the world and the recruitment of poor kids and kids of color into military programs where they are underpaid in stark contrast to the millions and even billions being made by private contractors.  Our young adults come home broken in mind and body and are virtually abandoned–leading to a high suicide rate among veterans and families on the brink of disaster.  15-35 people agreed to commit civil disobedience each week with 100-200 other participants supporting the actions.

Working with a local attorney and an ACLU attorney, we were able to negotiate some of our fees and bonds, but each participant in civil disobedience likely will spend a minimum of $200.  Many participants are themselves low income and several participated in civil disobedience more than once.

We hope to raise funds to assist them and to have on hand for the next campaign.  As this work continues, we hope to support more and more low income and people of color wanting to commit civil disobedience who have been concerned about the costs.