One of things I’ve found fascinating about working in social justice organizations are the moments when an issue arises with so many implications for your work that information explodes from multiple channels and networks. That happened to us at the RFC over the past few weeks as friends, allies, current and former beneficiaries and supporters contacted us regarding Governor Cuomo’s proposal to decrease visiting days for inmates at New York state prisons.
Last year we celebrated the RFC’s 25th anniversary, but another significant milestone passed without fanfare: 20 years of our prison visit grants.
We began making these grants in 1995. In the first 10 years, we awarded a total of just over $87,000 from this program (later named the Attica Fund Prison Visit Program in honor of generous gifts from a survivor of the Attica uprising, and several of the attorneys who won a settlement for the victims). In the last decade, we awarded more than twice that amount, bringing the total for these grants to over a quarter million dollars!
Just about a year ago, we were starting our Family Gathering. Board members and staff shuttled attendees from the airport to the venue, others stocked up on snacks for late night conversations, and peer leaders (former beneficiaries in their mid to late 20s who had attended previous Gatherings) welcomed kids and teens to their groups and helped parents settle in. The 2014 Family Gathering was a fun, fabulous event that served an important purpose: building community among targeted activist parents and their school-age kids.
I love making grants to help the children of targeted activists, but the story behind each award can fill me with a wide range of emotions. The Rosenberg Fund for Children’s (RFC) Board made a grant last month that produced a stew of intense responses in me.