05 April 2011

Weekly Round Up: Grantees Making Waves Nationwide

What a week! Check out all the amazing work our grantees are doing, from coast-to-coast, to build a more equitable future for us all.
  • Last week, Wider Opportunities for Women released their Basic Economic Security Tables Index -- a tool for measuring the basic needs and assets workers require to achieve economic security in the US. The subject of a important recent article in the NY Times, the BEST Index was created to help policymakers, researchers, advocates and the media better assess the status of the nation’s workers, the needs of America’s families, and the state of the nation. Get the real scoop on what it takes to survive and thrive in this country by reading the full report [pdf].
  • Grantee win alert! Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance (MIRA) is living proof that educating, organizing and mobilization works! Thanks in part to a actions sponsored by the organization, all 33 of the anti-immigration bills being considered in the state of Mississippi are now dead for the remainder of the session. Over the course of the last few months, MIRA hosted a number of “Civic Engagement Days,” drawing hundreds of Latinos, African Americans, and families of ICE raid victims together to speak to their legislators about the harmful effects of the proposed legislation. Led by MIRA, this broad and energetic coalition of organizations and individuals played a crucial role in getting these noxious bills defeated. Kudos to all involved for their tremendous efforts!

  • Grantee win alert! In the midst of the dismal state budget proceedings taking place in California, grantee LIFETIME was able to score an important win, convincing legislators to create a subsidized jobs program for parents who are part of the state’s welfare to work program (CalWORKs). The program would provide employers with a 50 percent match of funds from the state, and provides a crucial avenue for compensation to those families who are often forced to meet the 32 hour weekly welfare work requirement by taking on unpaid workfare positions. Given that the rate of unemployment among single mothers in California sits at 14 per cent, this is a critical resource for the state’s families. LIFETIME is already working to optimize this win by meeting with Solyndra – a local solar panel production facility -- to discuss how the company can use the new program to provide paid training and employment opportunities to CalWORKs mothers. Learn more about LIFETIME’s work on April 13th, when the Women of Color Policy Network hosts a panel on the future of TANF (Temporary Aid to Needy Families) nationwide.

  • On Wednesday, March 30, grantee Community Voices Heard staged a powerful protest in response to drastic cuts to the New York State budget – and in solidarity with beleaguered workers across the US. Alongside their allies, CVH members descended on the state capitol for a “Capitol Camp-In,” demanding that Governor Andrew Cuomo revise his proposed budget to renew the “millionaire tax,” strengthen rent laws and spare the state’s children from devastating education cuts. Led by low-income New Yorkers, people living with HIV/AIDS, students, seniors, the camp-in drew hundreds – though, in the end, the legislature passed the draconian budget, which is likely to impact an estimated 99 per cent of New Yorkers adversely. Check out coverage of the event that appeared in The New York Times, The Nation and other news outlets.

  • Thanks to some hard work by grantee Service Women's Action Network (SWAN), last week, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced Senate Bill S. 658, The Support for Survivors Act, which requires the DOD to establish a unified system to permanently store and retain digital records in all cases of military rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment, and allow lifetime access to these records by the survivor. Currently, those files are destroyed in one to five years -- presenting massive problems for servicemembers who later seek disability compensation from the Veterans Administration and for those seeking to pursue legal action against their perpetrator. “Never again should a servicemember who has been a victim of military rape, sexual assault or sexual harassment have to hear that his or her records were lost or destroyed due to the serious level of incompetence in the current system,” said Anu Bhagwati,executive director of SWAN. The organization first recommended permanent digital records retention during a March 2010 Congressional hearing, and has played a key role in crafting the legislation. Rock on, SWAN sisters!

  • On March 30 – Domestic Workers’ Day – grantee Mujeres Unidas y Activas helped lead a rally to urge the support for the California Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights (AB 889), a piece of legislation that would grant equal protection to domestic workers and recognize the importance of domestic workers to the state’s economy. Held in San Francisco, the rally drew more than 75 domestic workers, employers, and their families, as well as advocates from a number of allied organizations. Learn more about the campaign for the CA Domestic Workers Bill of Rights via our grantee the National Domestic Workers Alliance.

  • Looking for a master class in how to use new media to attack some pretty persistent problems? Check out the videos our grantee ACT for Women and Girls is churning out these days to spread some truths about emergency contraception and HIV protection. From "Luchador v. HIV" to "Getting Schooled on EC," the videos -- created by youth participants in ACT's Female Leadership Academy -- use crafty avatars to educate young people about the importance of condoms, and how emergency contraception really works. And the young women of ACT aren't just speaking up in videos: this past weekend the group kicked off its 4th annual Coming Out for Justice tour, which aims to promote leadership development among youth and adults in California using a reproductive justice framework.

  • Want to understand what the "school to prison pipeline" really means? Check out how SpiritHouse's Choosing Sides/Youth Noise Network uses a game called “Step Up” to show how racial disparities impact the juvenile justice system in North Carolina. It's a video well worth watching.
In the News
  • Our grantees are speaking out on the Walmart discrimination case, and why it is so crucial that the Supreme Court certify what could end up being the largest class-action lawsuit in US history. Portia Wu of the National Partnership for Women and Families spoke to Free Speech News Radio on the issue, and Marcia Greenberger of the National Women’s Law Center appeared on ABC Weekend News, NBC Nightly News, PBS NewsHour and C-Span to discuss the case. NWLC is also featured in an important article highlighting the gender gap newly visible on the Supreme Court. 
  • Grantee win alert! Grantee LAANE continues to garner great press coverage for its initiatives to build a just economy:
Stand Up and Take Action
  • On April 7, grantee Choice USA will join other reproductive health, rights and justice organizations in Washington, DC for the Stand Up for Women’s Health Rally and Lobby Day. Join them, and let Congress know that young people support reproductive justice. To get you ready for all the lobbying you're going to do while you're there, Choice USA will be hosting two e-trainings on April 5 at 8:30 pm EST and on April 6th at 1:30 pm EST. RSVP for these great events today!
  • April 12 is Equal Pay Day. To help garner support for fair pay, NWLC and Moms Rising want you to speak out by blogging and tweeting about the issue. The theme for this year's Blog for Fair Pay Day is, "Stop Discounting Women" -- which NWLC urges you to use as a starting point to "riff on what you would do in a world without the pay gap, what cases like Dukes v. Wal-Mart mean to you, and the importance of Fair Pay legislation like the Paycheck Fairness Act." Sign up today!
  • For the third time since December 2009, immigrant prisoners at the Reeves County Detention Complex in Pecos, Texas have gone on strike, protesting inhumane conditions and abuses. Our grantee, the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, is leading the charge to help support the prisoners' demands for justice. If you believe that we must put an end to the policing and persecution of immigrant members of our communities, NNIRR has designed a toolkit that can help you take action. Report a human rights abuse; sign up for a training on how document these abuses in your community; and learn how to organize for human rights through NNIRR's HURRICANE initiative [pdf].

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