When Third Sector New England relaunched its grant making 2013, we had a big audacious goal: to eradicate poverty in communities of color. The vision for the Inclusion Initiative was to promote the development of "inclusive communities" by supporting cross-sector, collaborative networks led by people directly impacted to address the root causes of income inequality, a problem which is deeply systemic and structural, and global in scale.
Any goal this big and this important requires a movement—of people, of networks and resources—all focused on the same outcome of economic equity for communities of color. How could the Inclusion Initiative, as a partner, capacity builder and funder, work with community-based networks to address this global problem at the local level?
This month we met with our second cohort of grantees. They were keenly aware that these large-scale problems are not the result of any single system or policy impacting people of color, but as a series of intersecting systems effecting the lived experiences of people in their communities—from inequities in criminal justice to uneven access to healthcare, from the frustration of economic immobility to a failing educational systems. The networks are people from different areas, walks of life, tribes, towns and neighborhoods—both seasoned organizers and first-time activists. These collaborative networks will spend the next year learning about each other, building relationships, developing a common language and advancing strategies to work cooperatively, and tell their stories.
What we learned in our first meeting with them is that, despite their difference and unique issues, they all had very a similar understanding of how communities could tackle this global problem of poverty.
Many shared with us their root cause analysis of why people are poor and their largely shared belief that alternative economic systems and strategies will transform communities of color and benefit people largely marginalized by current economic policies and practices. TSNE will support these networks in learning about alternative systems and support their efforts to plan effective community-based strategies.
They also had similar questions. "What does it mean to work toward a vision for an alternative systems and work within a system that is not working?" "How do we hold the tensions, the intersections and the differences to work effectively together?"
Our hope for this cohort of grantees is that by the end of the planning cycle phase, each network will have a clear vision and be ready to embark on the change they are pursuing in their communities. Through their learnings, networks will grow their collaborative relationships and work to build new economic structures with the leadership of people directly impacted for deeper impact and larger structural change.
Grantees created hashtags that reflected their takeaways from the conversation. We hold these as core values for the work we are doing collectively to create a new world of possibilities!
The Inclusion Initiative is very happy announce our 2016-17 Planning Grantee Cohort:
Care Worker Democracy Network, Boston, Mass.
Core partners: Greater Boston Legal Services, MataHari Women’s Worker Center, Brazilian Women’s Group
The network seeks to transform Boston’s care industry through collaboration of care workers, care consumers, local government, academia, and businesses, and by answering the question, "What does quality, fair, and affordable care look like?"
Independent Women’s Project Network, Boston, Mass.
Partners: Community Labor United, Brookview House, Building Pathways, Policy Group on Tradeswomen’s Issues
The Independent Women Project (IWP) is a multi-sectoral collaboration tailored to address the specific needs of female heads of households and the unique barriers they face in gaining access to the job opportunities in the building and construction trades. The strategy is deliberately set within the context of a surge in construction projects in Greater Boston, which is expected to continue for at least the next 10 years.
Ujima Project, Boston, Mass.
Partners: City Life Vida Urbana, Center for Economic Democracy, CERO Co-op
The Ujima Project was launched in 2015 after a year-long cross sector study group that involved 40+ leaders rooted in Boston’s low income communities of color. It's vision is to control capital and land to insulate local businesses from the “race to the bottom” market.
Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan Planning Authority, Boston, Mass.
Partners: Black Economic Justice Institute, Boston Praise Radio and TV Network, Grove Hall NDC
Residents and other community stakeholders of Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan will seek a network of partners to be directly involved in transformative neighborhood and community planning.
Worcester Solidarity and Green Economy Network, Worcester, Mass.
Partners: Worcester Roots Project, Future Focus Media, Black Lives Matter Worcester, Stone Soup Community Center, Greenvitalize
This network will create alternative economics—initiatives, enterprises, trade and finance that privileges community and ecological well-being over individual gain. Examples include worker cooperatives, community ownership, fair trade, time-banking, credit unions, community land trusts and commons management.
Indigenous Empowerment Initiative, Exeter, R.I.
Partners: Tomaquag Museum, University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island Indian Council, Northeast Indigenous Arts Alliance, Narragansett Youth Ambassadors, Narragansett Silver Clouds, RI College Roger Williams National Memorial, Brown University/Natives at Brown/Haffenreffer Museum
This network brings equity to the Native American community of Rhode Island through a new education and job training model that addresses the lack of trust in Indigenous peoples towards the current mainstream education process that has statically and systemically failed Native American youth.
Wôpanâak Montessori School Network, Mashpee, Mass.
Partners: Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Network, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe – Education Department, Montessori Academy of Cape Cod,
WMSN is creating a Pre-K through Grade 5 immersion school that, through a Wampanoag language and culture-based educational framework, is not only creating a foundation for long term success but also addresses the devastating social, educational and cultural factors that impact the Wampanoag community.