In a year of overwhelming need marked by a global pandemic, economic hardship and escalated targeting of progressive activists, the RFC responded by awarding a record-breaking $230,000+ during our most recent granting period. Funds supported critical programming for hundreds of children whose parents are progressive activists fighting for a range of causes: protecting workers’ and immigrants’ rights, putting an end to police brutality, securing freedom for political prisoners, standing up for environmental justice and much more. We welcomed nine new families to our beneficiary community this fall - more than any cycle in almost a decade.
Between our spring and fall granting periods, we awarded $400,000 in 2020, including over $45,000 in grocery gift cards allocated to 90+ grantee families facing financial hardship during the current crisis, an unprecedented addition to our regular granting.
According to Executive Director Jennifer Meeropol, the question of whether the RFC would be in a position to offer grants for more basic items like groceries, and in one exceptional case, diapers and baby clothes, would stretch the RFC’s defining edges.
“On the one hand, we always want to stay true to our mission and award grants dedicated to children of activists’ educational and emotional needs since we’re the only foundation in the U.S. that provides this type of support. At the same time, we weighed whether families could really take advantage of our regular grant programs in a time proving difficult for many to meet basic needs. We felt we could make the exception this cycle to be sure that activists and their families could buy groceries and still apply for an RFC grant for, say, a laptop for their kid’s education, or other critical supplies and programs we typically fund.”
When we mailed our second round of grocery cards at the end of 2020, notes of gratitude from our community flooded in. One activist parent called the gift card “a bright light in these dark days.” Another said, “On behalf of myself and the [family] we thank you for making a way, and making this season brighter despite the trying circumstances.”
Beyond the grocery cards, the RFC awarded funds for therapy; music, drama and sports programs; books, computers and vital support for virtual learning and other healing cultural and recreational activities.
Grants made to activists’ children in the fall reflected the new realities families faced during the pandemic. One beneficiary family requested supplies to set up an engaging home classroom, complete with school desks, chairs and white boards for their three kids. Another family requested materials to build a wooden swing set in their backyard as a safe, socially distanced project for the family to do together.
We don’t know what’s coming next, but one thing’s for sure: we will continue to support our community of activists and their kids as we always have.