By Angelica J. Core
January 12, 2021
EASTHAMPTON – In a time of great need, the Rosenberg Fund for Children (RFC) awarded a record-breaking $230,000 in awards in fall 2020 for programs for hundreds of children.
According to a written statement, including the spring grant award cycle, the RFC awarded more than $400,000 in total this year, including over $45,000 in grocery gift cards for families going through financial hardship.
Executive Director Jennifer Meeropol said their grocery gift card donations were unusual for them because their grants usually focus on educational and emotional support and not food, clothing, or shelter.
“Given what we were hearing from our families and the need that we were seeing, both across our community and the larger society, it felt really necessary to provide some support for families that were dealing with some food insecurity and some real immediate essential needs for themselves and their kids,” said Meeropol.
A written statement also said grants awarded this fall provided funds for therapy, music, drama, sports programs, books, computers, and vital support for virtual learning, and other healing cultural and recreational activities
Meeropol said, given the circumstances, that things are not available or not safe to attend because of the pandemic, they are buying more computers, tablets, school books, and online learning curriculum. She told Reminder Publishing that they and the parents are finding creative ways to provide activities for their children. She shared that the organization purchased jungle gym equipment so a family could build it in their backyard since the local parks were closed due to the pandemic.
“We’ve just heard so much gratitude from our families or the support and also for the community of people across the country that donate to us and make these grants possible,” she said.
Meeropol continued to say that for many families, the grants are important to them and it is a sense of solidarity and community when parents hear that people they do not know are willing to donate hard-earned money to make sure that children have the support and enrichment that they need to survive and thrive and to be happy, healthy kids despite what their parents go through.
According to their website, the RFC was founded in September 1990 by Robert Meeropol, who was an orphan at 6-years-old when his parents, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were executed for allegedly giving the secret of the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union. Robert Meeropol initiated the RFC to find and help children who are having similar experiences to his as a child.
There are two grant cycles where families can apply to receive help. The spring application is due March 21 and the fall application is due Oct. 13. The application and helpful resources for the application process can be found online at, www.rfc.org.
According to Meeropol, children are eligible if one or more parents are identified as targeted, progressive activists. A parent must currently or have been engaged in efforts around civil rights, civil liberties, anti-war, racial justice, and experience targeting as a result like losing a job, have been arrested, injured in some way, face harassment online or in-person that had a significant impact on their ability to care and provide for their child.
The family must be in the U.S. but in some cases, their activism or targeting could have taken place outside of the country.
To donate to the RFC, visit their website and make an online donation using a credit card or PayPal. To donate using a check, write it out to the Rosenberg Fund for Children and send it to 116 Pleasant St., Suite 348, Easthampton, MA 01027.