UUC’s Seeds of Justice Grant Program focuses on addressing the root causes of injustice, through partnerships that help to advance UUC’s mission and vision. In the past, we have awarded a grant $10,000 to a local nonprofit organization, pledging to deeply engage in their work for one to two years. We know that we learn and benefit from this work, and we hope that our community partners can benefit from our congregation’s time, talent, funding, and moral voice.
Seeds of Justice partnerships should help us advance our congregation’s mission and vision, and our five social justice pillars. We believe that strong Seeds of Justice partnerships are ones that can:
- Attempt to address root causes of injustice, not just symptoms.
- Offer meaningful ways to build individual and institutional relationships.
- Offer multi-generational opportunities to for church members to get involved as volunteers or advocates. However, we do not seek to impose ourselves as volunteers where it is burdensome, overwhelming, or inappropriate.
- Create opportunities to stand with others in a visible and vocal way.
- Invite us into topics and experiences that are unfamiliar or challenging to us.
- Help us to deepen our multicultural awareness and ability to work across difference.
The Social Justice Steering Committee is excited to announce a combination of Seeds of Justice partnerships, grants, and dedicated plate collections supporting ten wonderful organizations.
This year, our process began in December with a Request for Proposals. In February, the committee received 34 proposals from a very wide diversity of organizations. After much deliberation, discussion, solicitation of input from the congregation, and conversations with applicant organizations, we decided to take a more flexible approach than in past years. This flexibility is possible because over the three years since our last partnerships, the available grant funds have grown to $50,000.
The committee has selected ten organizations which, collectively, address our five social justice pillars: Care for the Earth, Economic Justice, Racial and Gender Justice, Peace and Reconciliation, and Care for our Neighbors. They also collectively meet other goals that we felt were important—opportunities for multigenerational involvement, interconnections across focus areas, opportunities to strengthen both existing and emerging social justice ministries, and opportunities to stand with others in visible ways as well as ways which may challenge us.
We’re announcing three kinds of Seeds of Justice awards: Partnerships ($10,000), Grants ($6,000), and Dedicated Plate Collections (which can range from $2,500 to $5,000). Each one entails a different kind of institutional relationship, and offers different ways to engage UUC’s congregation and strengthen our social justice ministries.
The 2016–2017 Seeds of Justice organizations are:
- Partnerships: Nature Consortium, Rainier Valley Corps
- Grants: Backbone Campaign, Freedom Project, Organization for Prostitution Survivors, Puentes, Puget Sound Sage
- Dedicated Plate Collections: Climate Change for Families, Kids4Peace, Tenants Union of Washington
Details about the awards and organizations are provided below. Because UUC’s social justice staffing will be in transition over the summer (with Social Justice Coordinator Jennifer Bright leaving at the end of June and Rev. Beth Chronister arriving in mid-August), Seeds of Justice program activity will pick up in earnest in the fall. Meanwhile we hope you are as excited and inspired as we are by the prospect of getting to know these amazing organizations. Please don’t hesitate to talk with Social Justice Steering Committee members about your enthusiasms, questions or ideas!
Two Seeds of Justice Partnerships
These are covenanted partnerships, with a mutual commitment to advance the organization’s work and our shared justice goals over a period of 18 months. In addition to a $10,000 grant, we’ll work together to see where UUC’s people, institutional voice, and other assets can be applied to advance the organization’s work.
- Nature Consortium – www.naturec.org. Nature Consortium is a grassroots organization whose mission is to connect people, arts and nature. Their Urban Forest Restoration Program focuses on the Duwamish Greenbelt (Seattle’s largest remaining contiguous forest) and Longfellow Creek. Their EcoARTs Program and annual Arts in Nature Festival blend environmental and arts education. Nature Consortium has a particular commitment to engage youth and low-income, immigrant and ethnic minority communities, working in partnerships with the Seattle Housing Authority as well as schools and community organizations in the Delridge neighborhood. The Social Justice Steering Committee was impressed by Nature Consortium’s commitment to blending racial and economic equity with environmental work; their enthusiastic invitation to multigenerational and family participation by our congregation; and their creative integration of art, nature and social justice, which resonates deeply with Unitarian Universalist spirituality.
- Rainier Valley Corps – www.rainiervalleycorps.org. Rainier Valley Corps cultivates leaders to strengthen the capacity of communities-of-color-led nonprofits in southeast Seattle. Their Emerging Leaders of Color Fellowship program places young leaders in grassroots organizations of color in Rainier Valley, and supports them through skills training, mentorship, and peer-to-peer collaboration. They are also building collaboration between diverse communities, organizations of color and other supportive ally organizations to effect systemic change. The Social Justice Steering Committee was impressed with the organization’s energy, their enthusiasm for collaboration and experimentation, and the systemic approach that they are taking to equity and racial justice. We see this partnership as an opportunity to support communities and organizations of color in a meaningful way that recognizes the complexities of working across ethnic, racial, linguistic and class diversity.
Five Seeds of Justice Grants
These are financial grants of $6,000. Seeds of Justice grants do not have the same expectations of covenanted, institutional relationship as a Seeds Partnership. For our part, UUC commits to publicizing the organization and its activities within our congregation and our social justice ministries over the coming year, and we’re open to opportunities to lend our institutional voice in support of their work.
- Backbone Campaign – www.backbonecampaign.org. Based in Puget Sound, Backbone Campaign seeks to accelerate the growth of a social movement powerful enough to manifest a world where life, community, nature and our obligations to future generations are NOT for sale, but honored as sacred. They use creative strategies, artful action, and grassroots training to engage change agents across the United States. Their campaigns span economic, environmental and racial justice, and include the training and mobilization of “kayaktivists,” and promotion of “solutionary rail” for renewable energy transmission and transport.
- Freedom Project – www.freedomprojectseattle.org. Freedom Project is an innovative educational organization serving inmates and those recently released back into the community. They teach Nonviolent Communication and mindfulness practices in five Washington State prisons and offer Community Circles for returnees and community members. Their Racial Equity Circe holds community workshops on the impact of racism in the University District and Hillman City.
- Organization for Prostitution Survivors – www.seattleops.org. The Organization for Prostitution Survivors was founded by survivors and allies to end the violence of prostitution and to change the cultural norms supporting it. Their mission is to accompany survivors of prostitution in creating and sustaining efforts to heal from and end this practice of gender-based violence. They provide trauma-informed services, skill-building, mentoring and support for survivors; community education; and allyship and accountability programs for men.
- Puentes – www.puentesseattle.org. Puentes mobilizes mental health resources to help undocumented migrants and their families cope and flourish despite our broken immigration system. They provide therapeutic services to address trauma, assist with immigration proceedings, promote recovery of agency and social healing, and organize leadership towards collective immigration justice.
- Puget Sound Sage – www.pugetsoundsage.org. Puget Sound Sage’s mission is to build communities where all families thrive. Using a combination of research, policy, leadership development, and civic engagement, they build coalitions to address root causes of systemic oppression. Their campaigns have focused on climate justice, equitable transit solutions, good jobs and worker rights. They organize low-income and communities of color in south Seattle, with support from unions, faith organizations, and progressive immigrant, refugee and environmental advocates.
Three Seeds of Justice Dedicated Plate Collections
These organizations will be invited to be the recipient of a dedicated plate collection during the 2016–2017 church year, and to share their story through lay testimony from the pulpit and conversation with members during coffee hour. Dedicated plate collections raise between $2,500 and $5,000.
- Climate Change for Families – www.climatechangeforfamilies.com. Climate Change for Families’ central mission is to bring youth and families together in an intergenerational manner to educate and empower people to take action to accelerate climate recovery. They offer “Plant for the Planet” academies and tree planting, and engage children and youth in legal and legislative climate activism.
- Kids4Peace – www.k4p.org/chapters/seattle/. Kids4Peace is an interfaith peace education organization dedicated to helping children of different cultures and faith traditions explore their differences and similarities and learn understanding, tolerance, and respect while fostering sustainable friendships across lines of conflict. Kids4Peace Seattle brings together Muslim, Jewish, and Christian youth from Israel, Palestine, and the United States through summer camps and year-round programs, in order to develop a community of young, interfaith leaders equipped to build a new culture of peace.
- Tenants Union of Washington – www.tenantsunion.org. The mission of the Tenants Union is to create housing justice through empowerment-based education, outreach, leadership development, organizing, and advocacy. They are a membership organization grounded in the conviction that tenants must be the leaders of efforts to transform housing conditions and communities. Their work includes outreach, education on tenant rights, organizing and support for tenant associations, legal and legislative advocacy, and leadership development.
Previous Years’ Grants
In 2013-2014, we worked with Yesler Terrace Youth Media Project, a community partnership that is engaging high school youth at the Yesler Terrace public housing project to capture and tell the story of this largely immigrant community – and in so doing, to be a voice for the community’s interests during the 15-year-long redevelopment process.
In our first round of partnerships in 2011-2012, we worked with Casa Latina and Powerful Voices. Casa Latina is a grassroots organization of Latino immigrant workers, and Powerful Voices fosters adolescent girls’ development and leadership, working with girls in the juvenile justice system or at risk of it.