FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: Kelley Bryant

413-529-0087 x113

kbryant@mywomensfund.org

July 1, 2020

Springfield, Mass. (July 1, 2020). The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts has announced $45,000 in grant awards based on recommendations of a committee led by local survivors of sexual violence and harassment.

The Women’s Fund employed a participatory process, convening a committee of women from across Western Mass. to review applications and recommend these grant awards. While this committee was diverse in race, age, careers, geographic locations, and many lived experiences, they did share one important connection – all were survivors, advocates, or strong allies of the Me Too Movement. Women’s Fund Chief Operating Officer Monica Borgatti explains, “Empowering the people in our community who are most impacted by grant decisions to determine which projects get funding goes a long way in shifting the power dynamics we often see in philanthropy.” Women’s Fund organized the process and vetted grantee organizations but ceded all decision-making power to the committee. Borgatti notes, “These folks are the subject matter experts, they know which organizations in our community are working to combat the issues at hand, where there are gaps in services, and where resources are needed most.”

Grants were awarded to five projects working locally on the prevention and intervention of sexual-based violence:

  • Elizabeth Freeman Center for their Berkshire Believes program to increase awareness of sexual violence in Berkshire County, build community capacity to identify and prevent sexual violence, and give front-line responders enhanced knowledge and skills to help survivors of sex trafficking;
  • Human in Common for a training project at Chestnut Middle School in Springfield which will teach participants to challenge rape culture by arming them with a critical lens for identifying harmful beliefs, behaviors and messages, language for naming the messages and why they are harmful, tools for respectfully and effectively interrupting potentially harmful behavior and skills for working in the community to develop safe, respectful and inclusive social norms;
  • Root Studio for their work with girls and young women in Turner’s Falls to help break the cycles of family trauma, poverty, sexual assault, and substance-use disorder. In addition to yoga-based practices, the studio will provide private and quiet space with a supportive adult presence – space for participants to rest, read, make art, journal, do homework, and for self-care;
  • Safe Passage for their Say Something program, a skills-focused training, grounded in effective strategies of bystander intervention and empowerment self-defense. The program identifies that sexual and domestic violence does not exist separately from the violence that individuals experience due to their identity. Through the various aspects of Say Something, Safe Passage provides the support for community members to take action to prevent and interrupt interpersonal violence and build the skills necessary to foster healthy, positive relationships; and
  • Salasin Project for their Healthy Relationships after Trauma program centered on women in Franklin County who are currently or formerly incarcerated. This program offers a weekly prevention and intervention group in the jail; options for pre-release and minimum-security women to leave the jail to attend weekly groups at Salasin; and opportunities to volunteer with the Salasin Project.

About WFWM: (1350 Main Street, Ste 1006, Springfield, MA 01103)

The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts is a public foundation with over 20 years of experience supporting women and nonprofit organizations that work on behalf of women and girls in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties.

The Women’s Fund fuels progress toward gender equity by funding the most promising solutions, collaborating with results-oriented partners, and by elevating the collective power of local women to take charge, and to lead with purpose. To learn more, visit MyWomensFund.org

###