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Responding to Political Turmoil: Trust supports local groups fighting for rights

LOCAL RESISTANCE: Trust grantees Make the Road New York and New York Immigration Coalition at the March to End the Muslim Ban, on January 29, 2017 in Battery Park.
April 2017 Newsletter

Where do you go if you fear being deported? If you’ve been a victim of a hate crime? Or if you just want to stand up for what’s right? Often, the answer is a community group.

As the federal government threatens mass deportation or incarceration and hate crimes rise, grassroots groups need resources—quickly. These organizations are seeing a huge bump in demand. 

“The draconian actions of the new administration have transformed the demands and scope of our work,” says Alisa Wellek, executive director of the Immigrant Defense Project, which helps those seeking refuge. She said the number of people seeking information has tripled in the past months. 

In December 2016, as the incoming administration hinted at stepped-up deportations, The Trust created the Liberty Fund, bringing together donors who wanted to help provide support to immigrants and others.

Together with the New York Foundation, the Jerome L. Greene Foundation, and some of our donor advisors, we quickly raised $1 million for this time-limited effort. We then solicited proposals for rapid response projects, and, within three weeks, made grants to 21 New York City grassroots groups. 

Three examples: 
  • African Communities Together is using $50,000 to train and engage 100 community leaders in advocacy related to immigration policy and enforcement, provide know-your-rights workshops, and connect immigrants to legal services.
  • Desis Rising Up & Moving, which builds leadership in the South Asian community, is using $100,000 to establish Hate-Free Zones in four neighborhoods. It will organize businesses and other neighborhood institutions to combat hate crimes and hold self-defense, bystander intervention, and know-your-rights workshops.
  • Justice Committee will use $28,000 to help New Yorkers recognize, monitor, document, and de-escalate hate and community violence. 

Preserving New York’s Vaunted Values

In addition to the rapid Liberty Fund grants, we made four grants to help local nonprofits respond to federal policy changes: Human Rights First is putting $261,000 to work providing legal help to immigrants in deportation proceedings, and Planned Parenthood of NYC

is using $185,000 to push for continued funding and access to reproductive health services. 

When policy changes are on the horizon in Washington, it’s crucial to follow the money. Which programs will be cut? How will New Yorkers be affected? The Trust and the region’s nonprofits need answers. We’re funding two organizations that monitor the effects of federal policy changes: We’re giving $60,000 to the New York Housing Conference to track housing policy, while the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities will use $300,000 to analyze implications for the City.  

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