Everyone at the RFC sends their love and sympathy to those of you who are experiencing hardship or loss related to the current crisis. I also want to thank the many of you who have sent us messages of solidarity and concern or continued to donate to support our work. I’m so grateful to you for being part of the remarkable community we have relied on for three decades.
I want to provide an update on the RFC, our plans for our 30th anniversary, our spring grants, and our general operations.
- Granting: The Board has met virtually to review all the spring applications. I am happy to report that all families who applied this spring have been at least partially funded. Unfortunately, a very uncertain fundraising future for the rest of this year and beyond meant we had to reduce our 2020 granting budget. We worked hard with the finance committee of the Board to minimize cuts while trying to maximize the support we were able to provide to our grantees with as much equity and consistency as possible.
I am glad to report that to help mitigate these cuts, the Board has approved an emergency Grocery Gift Card program for all of our beneficiary families who are eligible for grant funds this cycle, regardless of whether an application was submitted. This decision was made in light of the extraordinary times and after hearing from many of our grantees about the enormous additional stress they are facing. Our granting coordinator is hard at work contacting families and helping them access these $200 grocery gift cards, which are only possible because of all of your generous support.
- Our 30th anniversary celebration: while we wish it was not the case, we recognize that it simply is not possible for us to safely gather in May to celebrate this milestone together.
Therefore, the planning committee has decided to try to create a virtual program similar to our original in-person event. We envision a conversation between activist, public intellectual and RFC Advisory Board member Angela Davis and two of our former beneficiaries (facilitated by an RFC Board member) as the centerpiece of the virtual event production.
Our current plan is to tape the discussion, hire a videographer to edit it, and release it online in June, probably along with other program components (brief opening remarks by myself and my father, Founder Robert Meeropol), and music and/or poetry. We imagine providing early, exclusive access to everyone who has purchased or donated an Anniversary Circle ticket(s), then making the video(s) available to our broader community. (If you purchased a ticket to the 30th event and have any questions about this, please feel free to email me directly at email@example.com.)
We also hope to offer a “talk back” discussion of the program, via Zoom, later in June (perhaps on June 19th to mark the anniversary of my grandparents’ executions), but that will depend on where things stand more than a month from now. If we go this route, we hope some of the participants will be able to join us as featured guests for the conversation.
We hope this move to a virtual event will help create a sense of connection and allow us all to gain strength and encouragement from one another at a time when we surely need it.
- General RFC operations: The governor has extended the stay at home order for non-essential businesses in Massachusetts until at least May 18th and, with new cases and deaths continuing to rise in our region, it may well be extended again. The RFC office remains closed and staff are working remotely. We are able to receive phone messages and are getting our mail periodically, but processing donations, depositing checks and sending letters of acknowledgement are all taking longer than they would under more normal circumstances. In addition, one of our staff members is taking an emergency personal leave to deal with fallout of the COVID-19 crisis, which has further strained our small office.
Despite these challenges, we remain committed to continuing to support the children of targeted activists. Now more than ever, I am so grateful to be part if this incredible community, which demonstrates over and over your goodwill toward each other and your deep commitment to a better tomorrow.
I wish all of you continued strength, support and good health.
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