News & Events

Dozens of New Grants Include One for an Occupier

Submitted by Robert Meeropol on Thu, 04/26/2012 - 10:00

We’ve just completed our Spring 2012 Granting Cycle at the RFC. We awarded over $185,000 to 69 families with 136 children in 23 states plus Puerto Rico. As is often the case the vast majority of our grants were “renewals” going to children who we are already aiding. This is in line with our objective of being a dependable source of multi-year support for those we help. However we did make three grants to new recipients, and for the first time ever, they are all to targeted activist youth (TAY). This may reflect the recent upsurge in youth activism.

The RFC’s primary granting objective is to provide for the children of targeted activists in the United States. In keeping with this priority, 90% of the funds (over $173,000) awarded this cycle are going to those who fall within this category. But along with the new TAY grants I mentioned above, we also made several TAY renewal grants. Finally, we made three Attica Prison Visit grants for $6000 to enable 11 children to visit their imprisoned loved ones.

I thought it might interest our supporters to know what my daughter, Jenn, (RFC Associate Director) describes as “fun facts” about our current beneficiaries. They range in age from one to 24, with an average age of 12½. This round of grants included seven computers, nine Carry it Forward Awards (usually for college textbooks), 23 grants for summer camp, 14 for music lessons and 14 for a variety of sports and recreation programs. This springs’ beneficiaries also include three sets of twin girls, ages, 13, 14 and 16.

Looking beyond the statistics, I am particularly excited to announce that one of the new TAY grants was the first we’ve awarded to an Occupy protestor! It might surprise some in our community to learn that we did not receive a flood of applications from those targeted for their actions in various Occupy groups around the country. As far as we can tell, although tens of thousands have been involved, and thousands have been arrested and harassed, the vast majority of these activists remain so involved in continuing their work and gearing up for a spring offensive, that many who might qualify for our support have not even thought about applying. Eventually we expect to help more of those with the most urgent needs.

For now, though, an RFC award will provide voice and music lessons for this one 14-year-old member of the Occupy movement who has been intensively protesting against war funding and for single payer healthcare. She traveled to Washington, DC for Witness Against Torture events in January and has been arrested for civil disobedience, most recently blocking an entrance to a national political party’s office in her home state. A picture of her with tape over her mouth holding a sandwich board sign that identified her as "a child whose voice is not heard" went viral over the winter. She explained that she represented "children whose parents died in war, hungry children, sick children who can't afford healthcare…” and more.

Of course, those of our supporters who receive our June mailing will hear more about this and other grants, and we’ll report on all our spring grants in the September issue of our newsletter. And now that we’ve made the awards, our staff is engaged in getting dozens of the agreements signed, and the checks in the mail rapidly so that the aid our supporters’ contributions made possible reaches its intended targets in a timely fashion.

I wish to reiterate that none of the above would be possible without our donors’ generosity.

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