Arise for Social Justice, $2500, Springfield, MA “Undoing Racism Workshops” The Undoing Racism Organizing Collective of Western MA seeks to “provide opportunities for organizations and community members to develop an analysis around the history and impacts of racism in the United States so that we can challenge and change the policies, practices and organizational culture that supports and perpetuates  institutional racism.” They do this through two main efforts: Undoing Racism/Community Organizing Workshops (led by the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, a national organizing and training group based in New Orleans) and monthly Racial Equity Organizers meetings to support training participants and other community members in strengthening their anti-racism work. The MNF grant this year goes toward supporting the organizing of UROC’s Undoing Racism Workshops strengthening the leadership development and organizing in the Springfield area and within the regional food justice movement (June 2019) and to building on their momentum to grow the movement for racial equity in the Amherst public schools (October 2019).

Arise for Social Justice

Artesana, Inc., $2500, Holyoke, MA “Creative workshop with Maria Salgado” “By harnessing the power of creativity and entrepreneurship, we grow our ability to stand together undaunted in the task of leaving the world better off than we found it.” – Artesana ArteSana is a small but mighty social enterprise rooted in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Their mission is to expand economic and social justice for women from disenfranchised communities through creativity, entrepreneurship, and community education and empowerment. A 100% women-led organization, Artesana functions as a hybrid of small business and nonprofit offering free community programming as well as making and selling our handwoven products. ArteSana has been in operation as a grassroots volunteer and donation-driven community project in Holyoke for years now, teaching women how to weave as a means for women to create an uplifting community together. We are happy to fund ArteSana to support their free creative community workshops and to enrich the potential for empowering community activism working in collaboration with Maria Cartagena Salgado.

Compost Cooperative (Just Roots Community Farm), $2500, Greenfield, MA “Purchase of washing and cleaning machines” “Driven by racial and environmental justice, the worker-owners of the Compost Cooperative offer commercial waste-reduction and food-scraps hauling services in Franklin County, MA. As topsoil erodes along with living-wage jobs, we build ownership and opportunity among people coming out of jail.” – Compost Co-Op We are happy to fund the Compost Co-Op to support them in their goal of collaboration with Just Roots, whose goal is to increase knowledge about and demand for local food in Franklin County. The MNF funding will help support their project to construct a storage, washing, greywater station, and compost pile at the town farm/Just Roots, to be shared with staff, community gardeners, school groups, and composting volunteers.

Joseph Phillips and Revan Schendler of the Compost Cooperative pick up compost from Hope and Olive Restaurant in Greenfield.
Eggtooth Productions

Eggtooth Productions, $2500, Greenfield, MA “Social Justice Theatre and Radical Festival” We provided grant funding to Eggtooth Productions in support of their Radical Interconnectedness Festival. The Festival, at the end of April, brought artists together to address the concerns of marginalized communities through stories that engage issues of race, age, gender, religion, economic class and those aspects of cultural identity that have been suppressed.

Franklin Count Continuing the Political Revolution Conference

Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution Conference, $500, Greenfield, MA “Organizing conference for social justice organizers” Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution (FCCPR) is a multi-issue membership organization that arose out of the campaign to elect Bernie Sanders in 2016. “While working together the people involved in Bernie’s campaign in Franklin County, MA. decided that we would continue to organize and build a membership-based organization.” – FCCPR The MNF supported the FCCPR’s Conference: Municipal Socialism: Expanding Democracy by Expanding Public Power. This is the FCCPR’s conference to train local leaders from small and rural communities in ways to increase democratic participation, open new governmental options and curb the tendency to move to privatization of services.

Manidos Unidas

Manos Unidas Multicultural Education Cooperative, $1500, Pittsfield, MA “Hopeseed building Youth Leadership Manos Unidas is a multicultural cooperative based organization.  “We aim to use popular education to create a network of mutual aid while encouraging civic engagement and workforce readiness in central Berkshire County.” The MNF grant funds this year were awarded to support Manos Unidas’ Core Member Stipends for their Hopeseed Empowerment Coop. The Hopeseed Empowerment Coop creates leadership and mentorship platform for emerging multicultural, multiclass coops. It was spurred by the years long experiences of creating Fronteras Comunes bilingual zine, and may be a launching pad for a new, more collaborative version of the zine in the near future as well as other exciting emerging people’s coops. Hopeseed Coop is an incubator for social changemaking and uses multiple approaches as the entrypoint to community empowerment.

Musica Franklin, $2000, Greenfield, MA “Transforming lives through performance” “Musica Franklin’s intensive after-school music program is based on the belief that that the pursuit of musical excellence teaches students to strive for excellence in all areas of their lives. It is modeled on El Sistema, a hugely successful music and social change program that was started in Venezuela 40 years ago. El Sistema is now practiced all over the world, helping to lift up children and their families.” The MNF grant goes toward supporting the growth of Musica Franklin’s Leyden Woods presence. Leyden Woods is subsidized housing community in Greenfield and their outreach works with youth to learn mastery, respect, communication, and leadership in the context of a music ensemble. The MNF Fund is happy to providing grant funding this year to support Musica Franklin’s Leydon Woods program.

Nueva Esperanza

Nueva Esperanza, $1500, Holyoke, MA “Capacity Building and Retreat” “Nueva Esperanza, Inc. has been in existence for over 35 years and has been responsible for the redevelopment of many housing units in South Holyoke, Massachusetts. We take pride in our contributions that have resulted in preserving many affordable housing units that are still occupied today and would have otherwise been demolished during the City’s Urban Renewal project in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. To-date, Nueva Esperanza, Inc. has remained active in Holyoke and is a strong presence in the South Holyoke neighborhood to ensure a vibrant, sustainable, and powerful Puerto Rican/Afro-Caribbean community through arts and cultural programs in El Mercado as the Puerto Rican/Afro Caribbean Cultural Center.” The MNF grant funds this year go to support Nueva’s organizational development and capacity building for their board of Directors and staff.

Out now!, $3000, Springfield, MA “Advocacy of Gay Youth” “Out Now is a Springfield, MA youth-led, adult-advised queer youth organization that promotes harm reduction, self-determination, and community building through anti-oppression organizing.” Out Now! prioritizes leadership development, community action, building safe space, and centering the voices of queer youth in the Greater Springfield Area. The QuEST Project (Queer Empowerment thru Solidarity and Truth), created in 2000 to resist the erecting of a new jail, now works to build local action against state violence, and its youth leaders are at the forefront of intersectional campaigns to stop police brutality, currently to educate ourselves and others about the Trump policies and work in coalition to organize against all forms of injustice. The MNF grant funding this year supports the ongoing organizing of Out Now! through their Organizer’s Roundtable, The QuEST Project (Queer Empowerment thru Solidarity and Truth), Theater of the Oppressed, Popular education drop-ins and Healing Justice Practice Space.

Out Now!

Real Costs of Prisons, $3000, Northampton, MA “Advocacy for Prisoner’s Rights” The Real Cost of Prisons Project brings together justice activists, artists, researchers and women and men directly experiencing the impact of mass criminalization who are working to end the carceral state. In Massachusetts, the RCPP’s recent work includes organizing to stop new jails, working for bail reform and advocating on behalf of alternatives to incarceration. “The RCPP is committed to bringing the ideas and analysis of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated men and women to the forefront so we can more authentically challenge and change the destructive beliefs and costly systems that drive the carceral state.” The MNF grant goes toward supporting the ongoing work of this small but mighty organization.

Real Cost of Prisons

The Performance Project, $2500, Springfield, MA “Youth Leadership and Training” “The Performance Project envisions a world in which all people strive for personal and social liberation, where all individuals and cultures are honored, embrace interconnectedness, and we all are free to achieve our full potential.” They move toward their vision by bringing people together to create theater and visual art in  multi-generational collaborations. First Generation is one such collaboration. First Generation moved from Springfield to Holyoke in 2017 and is building its youth leadership base and making new connections with youth and their families. “We’ll be focusing simultaneously on artistic and facilitation training, communication, dialogue and leadership skills, relationship and community building. All these skills are critical for our FG community as cultural activists tackling the social justice issues we grapple with in everyday life, in dialogue, and in our performances.” The MNF grant this year supports the development of First Generation.

Performance Project

Springfield No One Leaves, $3000, Springfield, MA “STOP Campaign and Youth Leadership Training” Springfield No One Leaves is a grassroots member-led organization in Springfield, MA. “We organize residents most directly impacted by the housing crisis and economic inequality to build collective power, defend against displacement and win long-term community ownership & control over land and housing. Through direct action campaigns, building community solidarity, leadership development & political education we empower and train residents to be leaders & organizers for a broad social justice movement.” One component of their organizing is the Movement Leaders Academy which aims to strengthen their political education and leadership development pipeline, and to create intentional space for SNOL members to be able to develop a collective analysis of the root causes of housing and economic inequality. SNOL has run these since 2014, adding advanced and in depth tracks as the needs of the time have evolved. The MNF grant is in support of SNOL’s 2019 Advanced and Introductory Movement Leaders Academy programs.

Springfield No One Leaves

Western Mass Medicare for All, $2500, Northampton, MA “ Continuing education and outreach” “The mission of WMM4A is to build a strong grassroots movement to advance health care as a human right and to move Single-Payer legislation forward in the Commonwealth.” WMM4A coordinates activity among individuals and groups called “hubs” in Franklin, Hampshire, Hampden, and Berkshire counties; provides organizing support and resources, and helps connect newcomers with hubs in their local area. They currently have hubs in Franklin County, Easthampton, Northampton, the Hilltowns, Amherst, South Hadley/Granby, Holyoke and Springfield; a new hub is currently forming in Pittsfield. Some of these hubs are free-standing and others are hosted by larger organizations such as Indivisible Northampton and the Pioneer Valley chapter of DSA. The MNF grant this year will go toward expanding the WMM4A advocacy and public education about Single Payer (SP) throughout the Western Mass. region and engaging activists from Western Mass. with the effort to build the movement across the state.