The Markham-Nathan Fund (MNF) for Social Justice is proud to announce a special COVID-19 Relief and Organizing Emergency Granting Program for small grassroots organizations in Western Massachusetts who are offering relief from the public health and economic crisis created by the Covid-19 pandemic in the context of organizing for social justice and workers’ rights.

History shows us that during times of crisis the corporate elite will take advantage of widespread fear and disorientation to centralize power, deregulate the industry, privatize our commonwealth, and eliminate political rights in a drive to maximize profits. We have seen these tendencies in our country in the aftermaths of hurricanes and fires and are beginning to witness them in the midst of the devastating social and economic dislocations in the fight to limit the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Markham-Nathan Fund was created to support grassroots Western Massachusetts groups in their fight for fundamental social change to eliminate economic disparity, racism, sexism, and xenophobia. Founded in 2009, MNF has raised and distributed over $200,000 in small grants to community organizing efforts to stop police brutality, defend immigrant rights, stop home foreclosures, support low-wage worker organizing, and protect frontline communities from polluting industries in the struggle against climate change. Our focus has always been on the people’s movement as the antidote to injustice and violence.

However, now our region is facing a unique situation in modern history. The corona virus pandemic has forced widespread business shutdowns and worker layoffs, meaning further economic suffering for poor and working people already bearing the burden of a Trump economy skewed to the billionaire class. As schools and daycare centers close, working parents scramble to find care for their children. Poor and working people are in desperate need of rent and grocery money as well as dollars to pay emergency medical bills and keep the lights on. Those organizations most deeply rooted in our Western Mass poor communities are facing calls for relief and mutual aid.

The Markham-Nathan Fund would like to help our community partners fulfill that need while they continue their work to change the system so that it works for all of us. Our COVID-19 Relief and Organizing Emergency Grants consist of up to $2,000 per organization that meets our guidelines, though we have altered our guidelines for this grant only in three important ways: (1) Social change organizations may use grant money for relief for their community or members. (2) We have lifted the budget cap for applying organizations. (3) The application is briefer and our turnaround time on grants will be much shorter.

The Emergency Fund grants can be used by organizations to:

  • Provide emergency relief to member individuals and families financially affected through layoffs, hours-cut, or medical or educational expenses caused by the pandemic.
  • Fight attempts to deregulate industry, cut the social safety net, or eliminate the organizing rights of working people, poor people, and communities of color in response to the crisis.
  • Provide technological support and assistance (computers, zoom or other cyber-meeting accounts) to groups trying to cope with the need to meet online to prevent the spread of the virus.

The grant application deadline is December 1, 2020 and the funds must be used for its dedicated purpose prior to December 31, 2020. A grant report specifying expenditures must be submitted by that date. Organizations that receive a COVID-19 Relief and Organizing Emergency Grant may also apply for a grant in our regular cycle in the same year.