February 24, 2009; New York, NY— AJWS has recently awarded more than $5.7 million to 224 grassroots project partners in 33 countries. This total marks an increase of nearly $2 million over its last grants review in June. The new grants are divided into five categories, which include sustainable livelihoods and development, community health, community voice, education for all, and community engagement in conflict and emergencies. They provide funding to organizations in Africa, Asia and the Americas.
AJWS’s mission is to alleviate poverty, hunger and disease among people in developing countries regardless of race, religion or nationality. More than 50 percent of the funds allocated in this review are for renewal grants that provide continued support to ongoing projects. AJWS works with grantees to ensure their long-term financial well-being; the success of this effort is in part seen by the fact that the majority of the organizations awarded grants in this review receive less than 40 percent of their annual budget from AJWS, suggesting that they are successfully on the path to sustainability.
“We are extremely proud of our track record for helping grantees develop and become more able to secure other sources of funding,” said Ruth W. Messinger, president of AJWS. “The solutions that ultimately bring about large scale change are those that are locally developed. As grassroots NGOs are able to gain broad-based support, it is an indication that their ideas are taking hold and that they are making a real impact.”
Recipients of AJWS funding include grassroots organizations working in their communities to enhance human rights, promote social change and address the fundamental causes of poverty, discrimination and injustice. These organizations ensure access to basic services, such as education and health, while assisting individuals to develop livelihoods that will provide them with the means to support their families and contribute meaningfully to the development of their communities.
Highlights of AJWS’s December 2008 docket include:
Sustainable Livelihoods and Development
Support of marginalized groups is a major focus for AJWS’s grantmaking portfolio in the areas of sustainable livelihoods and development. In Peru, AJWS is supporting Racimos de Ungurahui, a group which helps Amazonian indigenous peoples’ organizations identify forest products that maximize local food security and export value. The Northern Development Foundation of Thailand, a new grantee, strengthens the capacity of indigenous communities to promote sustainable resource management and safeguard community forests against unlawful industrial development. In Uganda, AJWS grantee Friends of Orphans provides vocational training to enable the economic empowerment and reintegration of former child soldiers.
Education for All
Working with the Clinton Global Initiative, AJWS is expanding partnerships with groups providing non-formal and grassroots advocacy initiatives in conflict and post-conflict regions. For example, a renewal grant to Social Economic and Environmental Developers of Sri Lanka will support rehabilitation programs for children with special needs. Outside of the CGI commitment, AJWS is supporting the Jerusalem Children and Community Development Organization, which enables female students to form girls clubs for educational, social and economic support and organizes parent-teacher workshops on girls’ rights in Ethiopia.
AJWS’s community health grantmaking supports organizations that promote access to quality healthcare for all. Entre Amigos of El Salvador and Amigos Sin Fronteras of Bolivia will use AJWS support to train community leaders as health educators and launch a public awareness campaign to fight stigmatization of sexually diverse communities. And in Ghana, AJWS grantees Center for Popular Education and Human Rights and West African Project Against AIDS focus on increasing rates of testing and treatment among sexual minorities and commercial sex workers.
Community Engagement in Conflict and Emergency
AJWS’s grantmaking in this area continues to support organizations moving from conflict and disaster to peace and development. In Burma, funds given for Cyclone Nargis relief efforts supported a coordinated relief team that met with affected communities to assess needs, provide vital services and monitor human rights violations. In the Kivu regions of the extremely volatile eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, AJWS grantees are sensitizing populations about internally displaced people and children’s rights, facilitating the reintegration of returnees, distributing life saving relief supplies, and providing psychosocial support and medical assistance to victims of sexual violence, which is used as a weapon of war by all parties in the conflict.
Community Voice: Civic and Political Participation
Community development cannot take place when access to basic human rights is denied. Community Voice grants galvanize vulnerable communities to advocate for meaningful change in their societies. AJWS supports strategic litigation, public education on navigating legal systems, and advocacy to promote laws and policies that advance and protect human rights. In the Dominican Republic, Red de Encuentro Dominico Haitiano will enable the Haitian and Haitian-descended community to develop an integrated strategy of legal assistance and training so lawyers and legal promoters can advocate for reforms to immigration laws and policies. Mujeres Creando, of Bolivia, will create an advocacy plan to negotiate with the government to improve public policies that protect the rights of women indebted to financial institutions. And, throughout Asia, AJWS grantees—such as Equal Ground (Sri Lanka), Salaam Initiative (India) and Rays of the Rainbow (Burma)—are working to promote the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered individuals.
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David L. Marcus