Supporting Nonviolence and Social Justice Since 1974.
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Victoria and Esther Talk About the Muste Institute's Role

Esther R. of Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition in Texas and Victoria Ruiz of Olneyville Neighborhood Association in Rhode Island talk here about the role of the Muste Institute's Social Justice Fund in supporting their work. Read their separate interview with Muste Notes here.

How did the grant from the Muste Institute's Social Justice Fund make a difference in your campaign to end ICE holds and resist the government's so-called "Secure Communities" (S-Comm) program?

Victoria: The A.J. Muste grant has allowed us to continue our community organizing and leadership of the "We Are All Arizona" Coalition in Rhode Island. The relationship with the Muste Institute provides us with the opportunity to clearly define our organizing plan and how we can use mobilizing tactics in the process of membership development. It has also connected us to a larger network of organizers working to end ICE holds in our communities through the S-Comm program. We are a movement of many people and organizations fighting for justice and dignity for all!

Esther: The support from A.J. Muste has allowed us to strengthen our membership base through political education and leadership development, while building strategic alliances to expand the power of social action. An active and engaged membership base is essential to the success of any campaign.

Is there anything different about the Muste Institute's grantmaking process, compared to other funders?

Victoria: The personal interview is very unique. To know that there are so many organizations all around the country looking for funding is often intimidating for a small organization in a small state, but the A.J. Muste process truly made us feel like we have a voice in this movement that is worth fighting for. Also, the application is wonderfully simple and straightforward!

Esther: The Muste Institute’s grantmaking process is simple and organizationally friendly.

Why do you think it's important for people to support the Muste Institute's Social Justice Fund?

Victoria: The Social Justice Fund provides opportunities for membership-led organizations to continue mobilizing and organizing to win social and economic justice. Organizations that take a critical lens to the issues and problems for poor people and people of color are often seen as subversive to the status quo. The Muste Institute acknowledges the need and importance of analyzing the status quo as communities and deciding how we are going to mobilize our communities and take power to change it for the respect and dignity of all people. The Muste Institute's work helps the social justice struggle continue.

Esther: In the famous words of Frederick Douglass, "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." Foundations that support the critical work of community organizing understand that any social movement, any campaign, must be rooted in organized communities, and that only those impacted communities that are organized can bring about the kind of change we need.

Support the Muste Institute's Social Justice Fund: donate online or mail your check to A.J. Muste Memorial Institute, 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012. As always, your contributions to the Muste Institute are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.