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Noyes News, December 2008

The Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation
Celebrates 60 Years


Last year marked the 60th anniversary of the Noyes Foundation, so we created a new section on our website to document our efforts over the past six decades. You can read about Charles Noyes and his wife Jessie Smith; find testimonials from former scholarship recipients and current grantees; and take a stroll through a timeline of Noyes impact. Our work for social justice today rests on the shoulders of those who came before us, those whom we honor in this special anniversary section.



Environmental Health Coalition's Diane Takvorian Receives 2008 James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award

The Leadership Award recognizes extraordinary leaders for successfuly tackling some of California's most critical challenges.

At a time when Californians are hungry for new, practical ideas for solving everyday problems, these award recipients represent the gold standard for innovations and leadership. - Jim Canales, Irvine President and CEO.

In many parts of California, low-income and ethnic communities bear an unequal burden from the effects of pollution. One such place is along southern San Diego Bay, where the largely Latino communities of Barrio Logan, National City and Chula Vista are located adjacent to one of the busiest ports in the state.

Residents, with average incomes of less than $20,000 a year, often endure unhealthy air from the port's diesel trucks and ship engines, which is likely a factor in their children's exceptionally high rates of asthma. And the area's zoning laws have created an unhealthy mix of homes and schools next door to heavily polluting industries.

Creating a healthier environment for these communities has been the goal of Diane Takvorian for more than two decades. As executive director and co-founder of Environmental Health Coalition, she has helped thousands of local residents address environmental threats to their communities, and in the process, has improved the health of millions of Californians.

In the early 1980s, Takvorian led the effort to enact Community Right-to-Know ordinances for the City and County of San Diego, among the first such laws in the country. This led to a statewide law in 1985, giving Californians better access to information about hazardous chemicals used in their neighborhood and forming the basis for the "environmental justice" movement that followed.

Takvorian and her colleagues also organized local residents to help identify the worst sources of toxic pollution, including a chrome-plating shop in Barrio Logan that was discharging unprecedented levels of the carcinogen hexavalent chromium directly into nearby homes. The shop was closed and new chrome platers banned from the residential area.

Takvorian's success is due in large measure to her collaborative approach, which she says always "starts with the community." Local residents identify problems, educate other community members and organize them into action. EHC staff facilitates their work through training and by providing expertise on technical issues and ways for effecting change.

For her effective and inclusive approach to creating a healthier environment for low-income communities in San Diego and across the state, Diane Takvorian is a recipient of a 2008 James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award.

(Source: James Irvine Foundation)

Ramon Ramirez, President of Piñeros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste, Receives the 2008 Jeanette Rankin Award from the Social Justice Fund

The Jeanette Rankin Award is given to a lifelong activist who has provided extraordinary service in the Social Justice Fund's region of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Washington and Oregon.

Piñeros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste is one of ten grantees participating in the Diversifying Leadership for Sustainable Food Policy, an initiative co-funded by the Noyes and Kellogg foundations. PCUN is a democratically organized, membership-based organization that has long been an anchor for immigrant rights organizing in our region. It is Oregon's only union of farm, nursery and reforestation workers, and is also the state's largest Latino organization. PCUN seeks to institutionalize better working and living conditions, to redress the power imbalance between growers and workers, and to establish respect, fairness and dignity as the basis for agricultural employment.

WE ACT Wins!


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Mayor's Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability (PlaNYC) named the WE ACT for Environmental Justice Center winner of the 2008 Green Building Competition for New York City.

The once abandoned townhouse in the Hamilton Heights Historic District of West Harlem has shafts for natural lighting, solar panels for water heating, geothermal heating and cooling, and a recycling system for gray water for non-potable use, such as toilets. The EJ Center will provide a space for youth training in environmental activism, a library on environmental justice issues, and public tours to show how renovation projects, as well as construction, can use "green architecture." The EJ Center, which will also provide meeting space for community groups in Harlem and throughout the city, has preserved the brownstone front and core of this historic building (salvaging pre-existing wood), thereby gaining approval from the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission and Department of Building.

Grantee Updates

New Book on Generational Change and Leadership

For several years, the nonprofit sector has been facing what many have been calling a crisis in leadership. The Building Movement Project's new book explores how innovative groups are drawing on the experience and vision of both younger and older generation leaders to shape the future together. Working Across Generations: Defining the Future of Nonprofit Leadership, written by Building Movement Project authors Frances Kunreuther, Helen Kim and Robby Rodriguez (director of SouthWest Organizing Project), offers a comprehensive approach to looking at leadership and generational shifts in the nonprofit sector, and includes:


  • Fresh perspectives and practical advice on how to work across generational divides;
  • Research findings, real-life stories, useful charts and exercises;
  • Stories and case examples from across the country; and
  • Recommendations on how individuals, organizations and the nonprofit sector can all play an important part in paving the way for more vibrant and expansive leadership in the nonprofit sector.

CATA Project Helps Farmworkers in U.S. Build Hope and Infrastructure Back in Home Communities


Building on last year's successful visit to Santa Cruz Tepetotutla, the Mexican home community for many immigrants to the U.S., El Comité de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agrícolas used its developing relationships with the Fair Trade community to begin discussing possible alternative marketing that Santa Cruz could access for its organic coffee. Early in 2008 CATA began exploring the possibility with community leaders of conducting joint projects there. This might take the form of building infrastructure to produce value-added products and fair market access; improving nutrition and access to quality health care; improving education for the children of the community; conserving the rainforest (including some virgin stands) that surrounds the community; and supporting indigenous cultural traditions. The goal would be to create a small-scale model of how the root causes of migration can be addressed, providing more opportunity for those who prefer to remain or return to their home communities. Many of CATA's members come from similar communities in Mexico and, if successful, they have expressed a desire for this project to be replicated in other communities. To move the process forward, a CATA staff member made a second visit to Santa Cruz in May 2008 where he met with a CATA board member who had returned to Santa Cruz to be with his family after four years of working in New Jersey. After a dialogue with community leaders and a general assembly, CATA and Santa Cruz signed a formal agreement to move forward in fleshing out the project and seeking funding.

Southwest Workers' Union Gets to the Roots of Change

As part of its drive to demonstrate solutions as well as people-centered development, Southwest Workers' Union transformed its formerly industrial land into a space for safe organic food production. In a community with few grocery stores and an even more limited access to fresh produce, the Roots of Change: Eastside Community Garden provides fresh, healthy produce and inspiration. Members, youth, churches and allies have built raised beds, planted seeds and harvested crops, relying on donated supplies and volunteer labor. It has spurred residents to start their own gardens and mobilized many around the issues of food security, redevelopment of former industrial sites and organic urban gardening. The organization also led trainings on food sovereignty and climate change for members, allies and youth.

New Mexico Acequia Association Moves Forward With Support From the Court and Funders

In November 2007, Noyes News reported on a lawsuit filed by a developer challenging a New Mexico state law, which New Mexico Acequia Association helped win in 2003. This law gives acequias (traditional, democratically-governed local water management systems) the right to deny applications for water transfers (essentially sales), if they are deemed detrimental to the health of the acequia. This law has been strongly contested by developers and municipalities who argue that acequias should not have authority previously held exclusively by the State Engineer. In October, the New Mexico Court of Appeals held that the New Mexico Legislature had acted lawfully in granting acequias decision-making power over water transfers. The Court recognized that this law:

Helps assure that acequia commissioners, who have greater familiarity with the unique needs of the acequia and its members, retain the power to decide whether such changes will harm the operation of the acequia or those who depend on it for access to their water rights.

The decision is a major victory for the NMAA and its member acequias, as the first decision by the appellate courts to address the constitutionality of the acequia transfer statute. However, the dispute is not entirely resolved with this decision. The defendant acequias must go back to district court to argue other issues raised in the case, including whether the denial of water transfer rights was supported by sufficient evidence and complied with due process.


NMAA, together with the American Friends Service Committee, was chosen by the Wallace Foundation and Winrock International to be one of eight W. K. Kellogg Foundation-supported "Regional Lead Teams" across the country to work on "scaling up" local consumption of locally-produced "good food." Good food is described by this effort as healthy, green fair, and affordable. Currently, it is estimated that two percent of the food that is consumed nationally is good food. This national effort seeks to build that percentage, region by region, to ten percent. Reaching the ten percent goal requires rebuilding the network of relationships, infrastructure, initiatives, and policies that support local farmers, ranchers, food processors, marketers, distributors and retailers. AFSC and NMAA are partnering with the Taos County Economic Development Corporation, the Northern New Mexico Stockman's Association, New Mexico State University's Sustainable Agriculture Research Center at Alcalde, and La Montanita Coop. These organizations will identify barriers and hurdles to making more local food accessible in the region. At the end of the year, the team will propose a pilot project. NMAA and its partners believe that the time-tested traditions of acequia and pueblo culture, together with innovative practices and creative policy-making, can provide promising paths into the future. Vital to this team's efforts is the conviction that food is a human right and that good food should be accessible to all people.

KFTC Members Tour Colombia

Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

members Rully Urias and Sara Pennington were part of a delegation of some 20 U.S. residents who visited Colombia with the nonprofit Witness for Peace to learn about the challenges faced by communities being sacrificed to the coal industry. Rully and Sara's presence on the tour helped to connect the destruction happening in Colombia with stories from Appalachian communities being devastated by mountaintop removal mining.


"We shared our stories every chance we had," said Urias, "we made some good connections." The group visited several indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities that have been displaced by coal companies moving in and mining their land. It's a familiar story to people from the Appalachian region, and at every turn Rully and Sara found even more connections to home. For instance, one of the largest coal companies in Colombia, Drummond Coal, is owned by a coal operator from Alabama.

Urias said he's been changed by the people and places he encountered in Colombia.
Here in America, we're worried about our X-Boxes and what color our cell phones are. To witness what's happening in the rest of the world, to feel their words, their sorrow and despair wash over you - it changed me. I've already started doing things differently when it comes to what I buy and how I use electricity. I'm not going to do anything that fuels other people's despair and hurt. I've talked to my family and we're definitely going to ween ourselves off of what we don't need. It's made me 100% more committed to my work here. I'm not only fighting for my home, I'm fighting for Colombia, too.

DataCenter Launches
Indigenous Knowledge Project


This summer, DataCenter launched the Indigenous Knowledge Project implementing a new program initiative. The goal is to strengthen grassroots capacity among traditional and indigenous communities to strategically use research, along with culturally-based systems of knowledge, to protect the environmental, spiritual, cultural, and economic integrity of their people and lands. DataCenter has provided essential campaign research support for indigenous communities throughout North America and beyond for decades. In 2006, DataCenter and key constituents examined "research oppression" to determine the barriers to owning research as the powerful tool for liberation. They considered:
  • Lack of access to data about themselves in mainstream sources;
  • Mis-/under-representation in mainstream data sources;
  • Lack of community control over the production, documentation, ownership and use of their own data;
  • Violation of individual & collective cultural rights; and
  • Lack of mainstream political legitimacy.



These factors reflect the systemic nature of research oppression in indigenous communities, the historical legacy of over 500 years of colonization. The Indigenous Knowledge Project is dedicated to countering research oppression by training traditional and indigenous communities to employ culturally-
appropriate — as they define it — methodologies and research tools. The goal is to empower these groups in a way that is rooted in their spiritual and cultural tradition, and builds their political leverage vis-à-vis outside institutions and powerful interests.


In late 2006, DataCenter welcomed Michael Preston, a young, emerging leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, as a project partner and intern. He is leading the three-year Oral Documentation Project of his Tribe's sacred sites threatened by the proposed expansion of the Shasta Dam in northern California. The project's research agenda is entirely driven by Michael, with the Tribe having full ownership. Michael explains:

The Winnemem Wintu are not asking for special treatment, just to save lands always belonging to us, not to mention justice for hundreds of years of broken promises and injustices perpetrated on us. We are fighting to stave off extinction. This kind of story is not unique in the Native American world; it is just one that my Tribe and organizations are shedding a little light on for others to see.


In addition to the educational materials to be produced, Michael and Rachel initiated a radio segment to broadcast the message nationally to strategically deepen public appreciation for their efforts and strengthen legislative support to ensure the sustainability of the tribe's way of life. Their efforts are coming to fruition as the California State Senate passed a Joint Resolution in August urging the federal government to restore federal recognition status to the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, a critical component in protecting the tribe's sacred land rights.

California Passes First Law to Regulate Genetically Engineered Crops

The Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association worked with the California Food & Justice Coalition and other statewide coalitions in support of a GE policy initiative which culminated in September with Governor Schwarzenegger's signing of landmark legislation indemnifying farmers whose fields are unknowingly subject to GE pollen or seed drift and the subsequent contamination of their non-GE crops. This law also protects farmers from any harm this contamination may do to the environment or consumers and establishes a mandatory crop sampling protocol to level the playing field when biotech companies investigate alleged patent or contract violations.

Coal Plants in Limbo

The fate of scores of new coal-burning power plants is now in limbo over whether to regulate heat-trapping greenhouse gases. In November, an Environmental Protection Agency appeals panel rejected a federal permit for a Utah plant, leaving the issue for the Obama administration to resolve. The panel said the EPA's Denver office failed to adequately support its decision to issue a permit without requiring controls on carbon dioxide (CO2), the leading pollutant linked to global warming.

Environmentalists and lawyers representing industry groups said the ruling puts in question permits - some being considered, others approved but under appeal - of perhaps as many as 100 coal plants.

"This is another huge problem for Duke Energy and will very likely cause more delays – at the least – for its Cliffside global warming machine, now in early stages of construction," said Jim Warren of North Carolina Waste Awareness and Reduction Network, which has been fighting the utility's plans to build a new coal-fired plant in NC without any carbon capture. NC WARN and allies were scheduled to be in court four days following the ruling for their appeal of Cliffside's air pollution permit, largely based on CO2 emissions.

President Bush has made clear that he believes the Clean Air Act should not be used in permitting new plants to control greenhouse gases. It is not clear how the Obama administration will address regulating carbon dioxide. The Supreme Court has told the EPA it must decide on whether carbon dioxide endangers public health and welfare, and if it does it must be regulated.


NYC Green Jobs Roundtable Initiative Gathers Steam


On September 18th, the Green Collar Jobs Roundtable Campaign, spearheaded by Urban Agenda, an action research organization working toward a more equitable and environmentally sustainable New York City, brought together over 100 organizations to outline a roadmap to meet the City's growing demand for a well-trained green collar workforce. The Campaign connects businesses, unions, community members and government agencies in a coordinated effort to close the gap between jobseekers and green jobs.

According to Joanne Derwin, Urban Agenda's executive director, recent large-scale environmental sustainability initiatives, like the Mayor's PlaNYC 2030 are expected to create hundreds of thousands of green job opportunities, yet the City's workforce development and training system is not adequately keeping pace.

The Campaign's roadmap makes recommendations around key aspects of a workforce development plan in green collar sectors, such as energy efficiency, transportation and urban forestry. These include training curricula, job standards and regulations, job certification, wraparound and pre-employment services, and connecting with employers, among others. The Campaign will use the roadmap in 2009 to convince mayoral and City Council candidates to prioritize a green collar workforce development plan. As Ms. Dervin observed:

As we tackle environmental problems, tremendous opportunities exist to also advance economic justice and prosperity across the City, for all New Yorkers. We believe that green collar jobs represent a new paradigm for equitable economic development. But we need to work together to exploit the potential that's there – that's what the Green Collar Jobs Roundtable Campaign hopes to do.

Noyes Grantees Make an Impact at Funders Meeting

Investing for Equity: Achieving Reproductive Health and Rights for All was the theme of last month's 10th Anniversary annual meeting of the Funders Network on Population, Reproductive Health and Rights held in Santa Cruz, California. Although the current economic crisis was on everyone's mind, spirits were lifted knowing that a pro-choice president will be in the White House after a difficult eight years. Not only is President-Elect Obama pro-choice, he actually describes choice in a reproductive justice framework.


Mia Herndon, in-coming executive director of the Third Wave Foundation moderated the session: Funding Forward: Cultivating Leaders and Healthy Organizations. During the session, Silvia Henriqez, executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, joined Jon O'Brien of Catholics for Choice in speaking about the challenges and opportunities faced by organization leaders. Vanessa Daniel of the Tides Foundation gave an impressive overview of the Catalyst Fund and how it was bringing new funders into the reproductive justice field.

Environmental and reproductive justice groups talked about exciting cross-issue work that is galvanizing and strengthening two important movements. Current and former grantees that presented were: Alaska Community Action on Toxics, Indigenous Environmental Network, and Women's Voices for the Earth. In the session, Learning from Winning: Lessons from the Work of Women of Color-led Groups, Paris Hatcher of SPARK! Reproductive Justice NOW (formerly Georgians for Choice) spoke about how they recently defeated a dangerous fetal personhood bill. Julia Liou of California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative spoke of organizing nail salon workers to create healthier work environments and change related public policies.

The energy level was high during the annual meeting, a very good thing as reproductive health and rights activism requires a multi-faceted, pro-active approach, especially after so many years of constant attacks from a hostile administration. Each year, the Network holds a fall annual meeting and a spring political briefing in Washington, DC. These meetings offer an opportunity to showcase a variety of domestic and international work in the field of reproductive health and rights. Many Noyes' grantees have had the chance to present their work over the past ten years.

The meetings also provide a space for funders to network with each other and strategize about grantmaking. Over the years, various working groups have focused on particular issues such as: sexuality education, international programs, women of color and leadership development. The Women of Color Working Group in particular has made a significant mark in the reproductive health and rights field by leveraging funding for groups that have traditionally not had access to foundation support. Through a generous grant from the Ford and Public Welfare foundations, this working group initiated the Catalyst Fund, which works to create funding opportunities for women of color-led reproductive justice work.


A Big Win for MRNY

It took more than ten years of direct actions, legal fights, coalition building, research and community organizing, but this summer Make the Road New York won a major civil rights victory. An Executive Order by the mayor now ensures that all New Yorkers will have access to city programs and services, regardless of their English ability. The Executive Order is the first in the nation to comprehensively address one of the most pervasive barriers preventing immigrants from receiving services from or interacting with local government.

All city agencies will:

  • Translate essential public documents and forms, and provide interpretation services into the top six languages spoken in New York City;
  • Post visible signs about the rights to interpretation and translation in all agency offices;
  • Designate a language access coordinator and develop plans for complying with this Executive Order; and
  • Convey information in their materials using plain, nontechnical language.


This landmark victory was made possible by the work and support of dozens of organizations working on a variety of fronts, including housing, education, health and public benefits. Make the Road New York believes the Executive Order has implications far beyond New York City. It demonstrates municipal leadership in enhancing customer service for all city residents, fighting national origin discrimination and promoting civil rights. On the policy level, MRNY is hopeful that the comprehensive framework and language of the Executive Order will serve as a model for other local and state governments.


And One More Victory

In October, Make the Road New York's Workplace Justice Campaign gained momentum when the New York State Attorney General arrested exploitative supermarket executives for cheating workers and falsifying business records. The AG also filed a lawsuit seeking close to $1 million dollars in illegally withheld wages and punitive damages for more than 30 workers who received inadequate pay from 2004 to 2006.


NLIRH Opens DC Office

In late October, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health opened its Washington, DC, office with a launch party hosted by the Moriah Fund. Scores of DC-based reproductive rights and justice activists attended, all anticipating what the agenda will bring after Election Day. Many of the groups had already begun preparing for the transition.

Noyes In Action



The Noyes board and staff invaded California in July for a site visit that started in San Diego with the Environmental Health Coalition. Then it was off to Salinas, known as the Salad Bowl of the World, where the Noyes group met on an organic farm with farmers and representatives from the Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (above). From there, the Noyes board and staff headed up to San Francisco to meet with Breast Cancer Action, AnewAmerica and Generations Ahead.

Every other year, the Noyes board takes about five days to visit a group of grantees. The visits help the board see first hand the communities and people of the organizations we fund and to better understand the work on the ground. We've been to Louisiana, New Mexico, North Carolina, the Pacific Northwest, Appalachia, Montana and now California.

What the Staff's Been Saying and Doing


The Noyes Foundation was well represented at the Annual Conference of the Environmental Grantmakers Association held in upstate New York in late September. Kolu Zigbi, Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Program Officer, served on the conference planning committee and helped to design the plenary, Applied Systems Thinking. Kolu also designed and facilitated the session, Beyond Farmers' Markets: Taking Local Foods to Scale. Millie Buchanan, Toxic/Environmental Justice Program Officer, facilitated the session, Beyond the Power Dynamic: Building Equal Partnerships with Grantseekers. Noyes Board Chair Leslie Lowe gave a strong presentation on socially responsible investing during the plenary, Moving Your Assets to Address Climate Change.


Vic De Luca, Noyes President, also attended the Environmental Grantmakers Association Conference, his 17th, but had to take an afternoon off to travel back to New York City to speak on Social Performance Measurement and Impact at the Financial Research Associates Sustainable Investing 2008 Conference. In October, Vic was the keynote speaker at the annual conference of the Grantmakers of Oregon and Southwest Washington. He also was a presenter at the session, Grantmakers Come to the Table: Sustainable Agriculture and Safe Food. And back in NYC, Vic was a presenter at a session sponsored by the New York Regional Association of Grantmakers, Turbulent Times: A Funders Conversation about the Economy. Finally, on Halloween, Vic was in Baltimore to speak about the Noyes experience with board and staff diversity at the Annie E. Casey Foundation's gathering, The Field of Philanthropy's Investment and Commitment to Communities of Color and Organizations Led by People of Color.


Vic also was quoted in the September article, "Clear Directions: How Your Organization Can Benefit from an Investment Policy," in the magazine, Advancing Philanthropy: Ideas and Strategies from the Association of Fundraising Professionals. The Noyes Foundation was also profiled in the July publication of the New York Community Trust, "Green Investment Strategy Report."


Vic and Kolu are members of the Increasing Diversity in Philanthropy Committee of the New York Regional Association of Grantmakers. Both provided input to the staffs of NYRAG and the Foundation Center on the design of a survey of New York Metro Area Foundations on diversity issues. The survey is similar to the one conducted in California and seeks to measure the diversity of foundation boards and staffs and to some degree grantees.

Noyes and W.K. Kellogg Co-sponsor Six-day Retreat Resulting in Food Justice "Manifesto"

Food Justice: A Peoples Movement Whose Time is Now grew out of a six-day Good Food retreat held in August at the Center for Whole Community's Knoll Farm. The retreat, conceived of and organized by Kolu and funded by the Noyes and Kellogg foundations, was an opportunity to discuss principles for creating a broader, more inclusive movement for good food.


The manifesto does not reflect a perfect consensus among retreat participants, but rather a living document challenging us to think about the common values on which our work around disparate and related food system issues can rest. All of us are invited to view ourselves as part of a broad social movement that includes the sustainable agriculture, organic, family farm, farmland preservation, urban agriculture, community food security, indigenous sovereignty, farm worker and labor movements. The term food justice is not intended to replace or subsume any of these vital movements. It is meant to serve as a unifying set of principles tied together in a powerful meta-movement with justice at its core. Please let us know what you think by entering your comments on the Wikispace.


Related News

Study Details Abortion Trends


In the first comprehensive analysis since 1974 of demographic characteristics of women who have abortions, researchers found that the overall drop in the abortion rate has been marked by a shift, declining more among white women and teenagers than black and Latina and older women. The Guttmacher Institute analyzed data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention along with data it collected through surveys of abortion providers between 1974 and 2004. The study details the multitude of factors influencing these results including the impact of restrictive abortion laws, problems accessing affordable and culturally appropriate contraceptive services, and how women of color are disproportionately represented within these groups.

Reproductive Rights – Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All

Shira Saperstein, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, reports on defeats in four states of ballot initiatives that ban or limit reproductive freedom. Her November 17th article is on the website of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Shira is also the Deputy Director and Program Director for Women's Rights and Reproductive Health at the Moriah Fund, a private foundation based in Washington, DC, and operating in the United States and internationally. The Moriah and Noyes foundations have worked closely over the years, especially their joint efforts with the Funders Network on Population, Reproductive Health and Rights. The Moriah Fund gives $8 million annually in grants to organizations working on women's rights and health, poverty and economic justice in the United States, international trade and development, human rights and social justice in Guatemala, and pluralism and equal rights in Israel.

Facing Race Conference
A Personal Reflection by Valery Jean, Development Director, Families United for Racial and Economic Equality, Brooklyn, NY

In November more than 900 people gathered in Oakland for the Facing Race, sponsored by the Applied Research Center. Those of us attending were ready to confront racist policies and practices that continue to frame the national dialogue that overtly and covertly disvalues people of color, immigrants, women and the LGBTQ community.

The ARC's Compact for Racial Justice calls for us to: (1) focus on structural racism and systemic inequality rather than simply personal prejudice; (2) concentrate on impacts rather than intentions; (3) address racial inequality explicitly but not necessarily exclusively; (4) propose solutions that emphasize equity and inclusion rather than diversity; (5) develop strategies to empower stakeholders and target institutional power-holders and (6) make racial justice a high priority in all social justice efforts.

At the conference, I served on a panel with Right to the City Network activists from Oakland, New Orleans and Washington. I discussed FUREE's on-the-ground organizing and leadership development work and how we reframed the media debate around the issues of gentrification and the displacement of vulnerable communities resulting from urban renewal.

FUREE's bottom-up and intergenerational approach to community organizing has helped to empower historically underserved people in securing their right to demand policy changes that unfairly target people of color, women and low-income/no-income individuals. With regard to communication practices, our members, not the staff, are the primary spokespeople. This dispels the myth that low-income people of color can be "stories" for reporters, while "experts" can only be those who professionally work in policy or non- profit management. Our members demonstrate that you can live in poverty and describe your personal story AND have a policy analysis and solution to systemic problems.

We were grateful to join with our brothers and sisters in the Right to the City Network to share our stories with the fifty people attending the session. RTC is an alliance of base-building organizations and advocates from cities across the country, providing a united response to gentrification--- a framework for resistance, a vision for a city that meets the needs of working class people and a connection to other local and international struggles for human rights, land, and democracy.

We thank the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation for supporting the work of our members within the Downtown Brooklyn Campaign for Accountable Development and hopefully await the day our renovated communities can accept racial, gender and economic diversity as the norm and not the exception of urban renewal.