Raising Funds for Racial Equity

by | Nov 26, 2019 | Freedom Project Family

In 2001, Freedom Project was founded to share the gifts of Nonviolent Communication inside the prison at Monroe, WA… and we’ve learned that creating spaces where empathy and compassion happen helps people heal from the trauma and stigma of mass incarceration.

19 years later, we are prioritizing another reality that impacts our work: mass incarceration is a racial equity issue. Communities of Color — Black, Indigenous, and People of Color — are disproportionately impacted by incarceration. And this must inform our work inside prisons, in reentry, and in the community.

Our origins are centered in community. But the community has not always felt centered in our work. In the past several years we have received feedback that our Nonviolent Communication (NVC) programs have not been resonating with Black, Indigenous, or People of Color.

So, this May, we started an 8-month collaborative leadership series to unpack and reframe NVC so that it can respond to the needs and values of all communities – especially those that have been undervalued in our society. The series uncovered many instances where NVC does not acknowledge the unseen ways that our racial identity impacts our interactions all the time. Because of this, a tool that is meant to foster connection and belonging has had the unintended impact of turning many folks away.

We’ve been humbled to realize that we have not fully accounted for this impact. In 2020, with your help, we seek to address this fully in our prison programs, in the ways we support volunteers, and in the ways we center communities most impacted by mass incarceration.

Our Aspirations for 2020:

Update our Prison Program curriculum:

  • Redesign the framing of our prison programs so they respond to the needs of the diverse communities inside.
  • Provide trainings for all volunteers to learn and integrate the social justice principles that can help NVC resonate with all communities.

Expand our support for volunteers and facilitators:

  • Build more collaborative relationships and adequately compensate facilitators who are Black, Indigenous, or People of Color.
  • Give necessary support to our current volunteers to expand their awareness of living racial equity and anti-oppression values.
  • Design and offer a new workshop, How We Show Up – Living Racial Equity Values. This will incorporate ongoing learning with building a community where we can continue unpacking how racism and oppression show up in our lives and in the work we do.

Expand our support to the community:

  • Support people from the community to offer culturally-responsive compassionate communication workshops.
  • Offer Family Circles – monthly meetings for people dealing with challenges of loved ones going to and coming home from prison.

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Will you help us center racial equity values in our programs so we can continue this critical work of helping to heal the trauma and dismantle the stigma of mass incarceration?

There are many ways to help:

  • Share this letter with a friend – let it start a conversation.
  • Attend one of our community workshops – healing the trauma and stigma of mass incarceration is everyone’s work to do, whether we are directly impacted or if we have been conditioned to hold the stigma in place.
  • Make a financial giftour goal is to raise $40,000 between now and December 31 to help fund these programs. (See below for specific ways to give.)

Thank you for your support! We wouldn’t be able to do this without you – whether you give your time, money, emotional labor or valued feedback. We’re in this work together and I so appreciate being in community with you!

-David Heppard