Monthly Archives: November 2013

Brandeis Unites Us Campaign Ends in 4 Days!

The Brandeis Unites Us campaign ends in 4 days! The donation support given to Community Works through this campaign helps make it possible for our members to continue to build communities we all want to live in. Through your donation, we are able to continue our mission in being a network for over 30 social-justice nonprofits that bring people together to seek an end to poverty, hunger, homelessness, violence, environmental degradation, and discrimination. Donate now at: ipledgeonline.org/_brandeis. Image

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“No Ceilings”: Hillary Clinton Wants Your “Full Participation” (Vitamin W)

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On Friday November 1st, Clinton officially launched her “No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project”. The project will be framed around the 20th anniversary of the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. In 1995, first lady Clinton recited the famous words, “women’s rights are human rights.”

See more at: http://vitaminw.co/change/hillary-clinton-launches-no-ceilings-full-participation-project#sthash.CY1KZbDX.dpuf

Some Food for Thought Via Alternet – Five Ugly Extremes in America – The Contrasts Will Drop Your Chin to the Floor

1. $2.13 per hour vs. $3,000,000.00 per hour

2. A single top income could buy housing for every homeless person in the U.S

3. The poorest 47% of Americans have no wealth

4. The U.S is nearly the most wealth-unequal country in the entire world

5. A can of soup for a black or Hispanic woman, a mansion and yacht for the businessman

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Welcome to The Good Fight, your new favorite podcast

Welcome to The Good Fight, your new favorite podcast

If you believe that the entirety of health care reform can’t be undone because of some glitches in the website, you’re among friends. Although Obamacare isn’t a perfect program, it is an enormous step forward for this country and its very existence is a testament to decades and decades of struggle. As legendary activist Heather Booth notes in this week’s episode, above, the one regret former Secretary of State Frances Bacon voiced of her work on the New Deal was that it didn’t create health care for all. Now, nearly 100 years later, we are closer to that goal than ever before — and yet, that’s not what you’ll hear in the mainstream press.

“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion— that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.” – Former President, Abraham Lincoln

In memory of Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, we celebrate the 150th anniversary of his Gettysburg Address. His words from the address can be seen inscribed on the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

“Fourscore and …

Opinion Piece: The Future of Boston Schools

The Future of Boston Schools: The Lesson in Resisting Education Reform

ImageBy, Sean Lords

When it comes to access to opportunities, education is undeniably a social justice issue. While the education reform movement thinks that throwing charter schools at its “achievement gap” can serve as a unilateral solution to a complicated issue, it is a solution that ignores the fact that this often leads to the closure of neighborhood schools, an overemphasis on tests and statistics instead of developing minds, and increased job insecurity for those tasked with educating our children. Nevertheless, while some view Martin J. Walsh’s mayoral victory over John Connolly as a victory over education reform’s big money, Walsh fails to be the radical alternative our students and teachers need.

Statistically, charter schools improve the metrics they’ve set out to improve. Charter school students perform better on standardized tests, and charter schools often have higher graduation rates. Correlation does not imply causation, however, and that leads to another thing that’s clear about charter school students: their parents were involved enough to encourage enrollment in a charter school. We also know that charter school teachers don’t benefit from the same protections as their public school counterparts. They work longer days for less pay, and their performance evaluations are frequently tied to how well their students do on standardized tests. In neighborhood schools with tenured faculty, our children can come to expect to see many of the same faces year after year—a kind of comfort and familiarity in lives that are too often plagued with uncertainty.

Education reform’s “achievement gap” is directed at black and Latino students and fails to acknowledge a worldwide correlation between poverty and educational outcomes. It’s not that the teachers have given up on difficult students, but rather that the system has betrayed them by throwing its beloved money at a symptom instead of a root cause. While Martin Walsh may not be receiving contributions from wealthy education organizations that support training our children to comply and take tests, he isn’t against them, either. Walsh sits on the board of a Dorchester charter school and supports lifting the cap on the number of charters allowed in Boston. Walsh has promised to work with teachers’ unions to create solutions that work with existing schools, but this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t expect to see more charter schools or solutions that involve more of an emphasis on multiple-choice tests. Otherwise, Walsh seems dedicated to the idea of universal preschools for 4-year olds, and a focus on improving high school for 9th and 10th graders at a critical time in their education.

In the meantime, there are a few ways we can resist coming changes. We can pull our children out of school on test days and have them volunteer instead. We can listen to our children and push aside whatever assumptions we have about what goes on in the classroom. We can make friends with our children’s teachers—they are not the enemy, and most of them would really appreciate our support. This could make an impact on our children, too—it will show them that they are a cause worth fighting for, and that it’s worth it to fight for a cause.

About the Blogger: Sean Lords taught English in South Korea and is now studying to teach in the U.S. When not studying, he advises others who are looking for the right tesol course in Boston, while raising a family and working on his Masters in Education.

Transgender Awareness Week

A message from one of our partners & supporters, PFLAG:

This week is Transgender Awareness Week, a time when we honor the struggles and successes of the transgender community and celebrate the parents who have stood by their transgender children with love and support.

Greater Boston PFLAG is so proud of our work in the trans* community – by sending out trans* speakers to schools and communities all over MA, hosting five different support groups specific to parents of trans* children, and promoting trans* equality in the workplace, we are making a difference. 

Greater Boston PFLAG is delighted to share the extraordinary achievement of  Zachary Kerr, as one of 4 exceptional  teen activists being honored at the HALO Awards on Nickelodeon this Sunday, November 17 at 8pm LIVE.  

As a tireless advocate for the transgender community, he works extensively with us as a speaker for our educational outreach programs. The HALO Awards have provided a national platform for Zach to reach millions with his message of creating safe and supportive environments for trans* people.

The week will end with the Transgender Day of Remembrance, a worldwide gathering of trans and allied communities to memorialize victims of anti-trans hatred and prejudice.

MassEquality will also be hosting a series of special events. Please visit MassEquality’s website for details.

Join Greater Boston PFLAG this week as we remember and commit to safety and equality for our transgender loved ones.

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Street Art Utopia – We Declare the World as Our Canvas

Street Art Utopia - We Declare the World as Our Canvas

Russian artist, Alexey Menschikov, redefines street art by showing the public that with great passion, unwavering drive, and imagination, you can leave a positive (and creative) footprint in your community. It’s little acts everyday that can inspire someone to inspire others.

Chronicle of Philanthropy’s Social Media & Marketing Tips for Your Nonprofit

Via The Chronicle of Philanthropy, here’s some tips for your nonprofit or social justice movement:

Too many nonprofit organizations fail to keep donors because thy don’t do a good job of making their work interesting, says Kiva Leroux Miller, a marketing consultant for charities. Ms. Miller discussed her new book, Content Marketing for Nonprofits, with The Chronicle:

What is content marketing and how does it differ from traditional marketing?

Content marketing is about using your communications to attract people to you instead of thrusting your stuff in front of them and interrupting them. A lot of nonprofits publish newsletters that are just about the nonprofits work. It ends up being a narrative of the staff’s to-do list for the last month. With content-marketing approach to a newsletter are interested in and write content that they’re going to be excited to read. Grist does a great job of sharing lots of stories on a variety of topics with its e-newsletter readers, while keeping the newsletter very skimmable and easy to act on. You have to listen to the people who are on your newsletter list or fans of your Facebook page and pay attention to what’s important and relevant to them and make that central to the communications strategy, instead of what your nonprofit wants the world to know. That’s a pretty big shift for most organizations.

How can contest marketing bolster fundraising? 

We all know there is a donor retention crisis in this country. The donor attrition rate is between 55 to 65 percent. We have people who are giving and then leaving. Why is that? I would argue that nonprofits are doing a lousy job at communicating with their first-time donors. A content-marketing strategy is a way to increase your donor-relation rate by proving to those new donors that you do understand why they care about your cause. 

How can content marketing appeal to younger donors?

Donors of all ages don’t want to be treated like ATMs – that’s especially true with people who are in Gen Y and Gen X and even some of the younger boomers. Philanthropy is an expression of their values, and people express their values in lots of different ways, not just writing a check. You need to give people many ways to participate in the good work of your cause. Younger donors tend to be more interested in community and solving problems quickly. They want to see progress. It’s really incumbent upon all of us to show that progress, even if it’s just baby steps forward. They want to be more actively included in making change than older donors were traditionally. Image