Social Justice budget request for 2018 – 2019

Social justice is at the heart of EUUC’s identity.

When you pledge to the Social Justice Fund, you support essential programs at EUUC, in our region, and beyond — for example, issues related to our congregational stands, EUUC car camp, Neighbors in Need cold weather shelter, Everett Interfaith Shelter, local high-poverty elementary schools, and organizations promoting gender equality.

Last year $32,852 was pledged to the Social Justice Fund!  Social Justice pledge funds are distributed to three of our social justice committees: Social Concerns, Peace & Justice (including the new Racial Justice workgroup), and Advocates for Women.  They use these funds to educate, amplify our hands-on work, and donate to organizations doing work consistent with our UU values.  Your Social Justice Fund pledge also pays for memberships in organizations such as the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee and the Northwest UU Justice Network.

The Social Justice Council oversees the social justice budget.  The Sunday Offering committee is a member of the Council, but Sunday Offering donations are separate from Social Justice Pledge funds, going directly to the month’s cause.

Your generous social justice pledge helps us bring our vision of a just and sustainable world to those outside our doors.  It is our faith in action.

The Social Justice committees are requesting a budget of $31,200 for the fiscal year beginning on July 1, 2018.

Advocates for Women $1,200
Peace and Justice $2,000
Racial Justice $750
Social Concerns $22,250
Emerging Needs and Joint Events $3,000
Social Responsibility $2,000
Sunday Offering $0
Total $31,200

Advocates for Women Budget – $1,200

Managed by the Advocates for Women Committee

The Advocates for Women committee is committed to addressing the challenges that prevent women and girls from realizing their full potential. Committee members are extremely concerned that women’s hard-fought gains in reproductive rights and economic status are being eroded by an onslaught of governmental actions.  Much in the news lately, sexual harassment and violence reflect deeply rooted, negative attitudes toward women and girls and must end.  Moreover, humanity cannot solve the global issues of climate change, political conflict, disease, social inequality, and more when half of us are held back.

Historically, the committee has been best known for hosting benefit dinners to raise money for non-profit organizations.  Recently, the committee has assumed a greater role in activism to build broader awareness of critical issues and to stimulate more grassroots action. The committee now operates through a structure of four “action groups” and hopes that other UU congregations may draw upon this model to raise their voices in support of gender equality. This expansion is backed with a bigger toolbox to reach more EUUC members and friends, such as new programs held after Sunday service.

Social Justice pledge funds are used primarily for direct contributions to allied non-profit organizations and to cover the costs of educational materials and supplies that support the committee’s projects.  Members purchase all the food and some of the supplies for benefits. In addition, they donate most of the items needed for service projects undertaken to support non-profits.  They pass the basket at each monthly meeting to raise funds for an organization selected for that year. Here are some recent highlights:

  • Benefit for the Days for Girls team in Edmonds to start women-owned micro-enterprises in Swaziland ($3,400 donated).
  • Member donations to One by One to repair obstetric fistulas in African women ($896/12 meetings).
  • Educational program for the International Day of the Girl (80 attendees).
  • Book drive for Tomorrow’s Hope Child Development Center in Everett (118 new books).
  • Gift bags (26 total) for newly housed women at Pathways for Women (YWCA).
  • Feminine hygiene supplies collected for lower income girls in the Edmonds School District.
  • Participation in the Seattle Limbe Sewing circle interdenominational event at the Baitul Ehsaan mosque to benefit Days for Girls.

Peace & Justice Budget – $2,000

Managed by the Peace and Justice Committee

The Peace & Justice budget covers expenses related to social justice advocacy, witness, and education. We purchase books, host forums, and make donations – both to educate and involve members of the congregation in peace and justice issues, and to collaborate with other social justice groups in the region.

After a very busy and effective year of advocacy, witness, education, and community-building in 2016-17, the Peace & Justice Committee took a few months in the fall of 2017 to step back and discern our path forward, so that we can be effective in continuing to bring moral leadership to core issues of our times.  We developed a new mission statement and goals to guide us in selecting our activities for the next couple of years.

Peace & Justice, also known as “P&J,” continues to focus in particular on issues that our congregation has demonstrated concern about, expressed by Congregational Stands: the devastating issues of global warming and climate justice, and the corrupting influence of money in our democracy. These are root causes of many of the social justice inequities of our time.

In the spring of 2018, we are supporting several EUUC teams involved in the Taming Bigfoot Edmonds project, which EUUC members founded in the community with other local churches and the City of Edmonds.  We are also encouraging the congregation to support and collect signatures for a socially-just Carbon Tax initiative, created by a broad coalition known as the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy. This will continue into 2018/19. We will also introduce study and conversation groups to learn more about issues of intersectionality (e.g., overlap of climate justice and economic and racial justice) and possible solutions.  As always, we will facilitate EUUC folk joining opportunities to rally, protest, and submit comments on key issues as they arise.

As an example of the work we might do in 2018/19, here are a few highlights of 2017:

  • In partnership with Sunday Offerings, we raised almost $8000, to support EUUC member Carlo Voli’s community-supported activism and the legal collective for Water Protectors in Standing Rock.  The warmth and glow of community and love emanating from a packed Chapman Hall were testimony to EUUC folks’ commitment to climate justice.
  • Sold about 150 Standing on the Side of Love t-shirts with EUUC’s name on the back.
  • Hosted an inspiring, educational, and entertaining all-ages potluck and show, Climate Monologues, with Sharon Abreu, which again filled Chapman Hall.
  • Presented an all-day workshop, Change the Course of Global Warming, to 35 people.  Facilitated by a small team from P&J, participants created a vision of our future that allowed us to determine strategies that will dismantle the systems preventing progress on global warming, and create a better society.
  • Facilitated meet-ups of up to 30 EUUC folk at several marches, including Black Lives Matter on Tax Day, Climate, and Science; also attended the Womxn’s March.
  • Helped lead, and amplify our justice work, through interfaith and community groups such as Edmonds Interfaith Climate Action, Faith Action Network, Edmonds Neighborhood Action Coalition.
  • Hosted a lunch and presentation, Tools for Resistance.  Quaker climate activist Lynn Fitz-Hugh provided 35 attendees with excellent information on successful nonviolent social change movements, plus “tools for resistance” that go beyond marches.

Much of this work costs nothing more than committee members’ and volunteers’ time. With our social justice funds, we support and leverage the work of others, by making donations to local grassroots organizations (such as those creating initiatives or opportunities for activism), and we offer opportunities for our congregation to learn, grow, and engage.

Sno-King Meaningful Movies

Operating as a subcommittee of Peace & Justice, Sno-King Meaningful Movies hosts social-justice films and discussions at EUUC every two months.  The Sno-King Meaningful Movies steering team includes EUUC members, Shoreline Social Justice Ministry members, and Snohomish Peace Action members. This effort is self-sustaining. Expenses are funded by donations, not from Social Justice pledge funds. Volunteers are always welcome!

Racial Justice Workgroup Budget (new) -­ $750

Managed by the Racial Justice Workgroup under the Peace & Justice Committee

The Racial Justice workgroup was founded by EUUC members who were inspired by the UUA response to racial tensions in our denomination, and by workshops during the summer 2017 UUA General Assembly. There was enthusiasm among other folk at EUUC, and so a workgroup was formed. The workgroup has sponsored reading circles, and in December held a summit to determine what people at EUUC hope to learn and do about racial justice.

After analyzing the comments, the workgroup has determined that our goal is education and self-awareness. Next year we plan to host more reading circles, forums, and/or workshops. The budget request will cover related costs, such as childcare, educational materials, and books. We feel our work is an opportunity for congregational capacity-building that will positively impact all of our social justice activities.

Social Concerns Budget -­ $22,250

Managed by the Social Concerns Committee

The Social Concerns Committee is primarily concerned with poverty, hunger, insecure housing, and education. Their budget is divided among several sub-budgets.

Education and Youth Budget -­ $7,500

Cedar Valley Community School – This school has the highest proportion of low-income students in the Edmonds School District. Funds are used to provide emergency support for students in need, special art projects, field trips and summer food.  Many EUUC members and friends volunteer at Cedar Valley, having built a strong partnership with students and staff over the years.

Chase Lake Elementary School – Chase Lake serves children living in EUUC’s neighborhood.  Over 60% are low income, they have the highest portion of return homeless students, and it is the district school for medically fragile students. The funds support the Safety Net program, library, medical supplies, field trips, camp scholarships, and snacks for the Bus Bunch (homeless students) as they await transportation to shelters, etc. Many EUUC members and friends take part in volunteer opportunities at Chase Lake.

Mountlake Terrace Elementary – About 60% of their students are low-income students, which puts them in a category comparable to “the working poor.” Their demographics don’t usually meet requirements for many grants available to poorer schools, yet the PTA doesn’t have the money to fill the gaps that schools in wealthier neighborhoods can depend on. We are currently supporting their art program, and volunteers serve in such roles as being a “Reading Buddy.”

Holiday Toy Shop – This fund assists with gifts for low-income children, particularly teens. Last year, 600 children enjoyed the holiday generosity that otherwise would not be possible. Volunteers are a vital part of the Toy Shop, with over 60 EUUC members helping in various capacities.

Washington Kids in Transition – This is volunteer organization is committed to providing basic needs to over 400 homeless students in the Edmonds School District as a part of the McKinney-Vento Act. These children live in shelters, tents, cars, transitional housing, and other temporary housing. Our funds help provide 75 small food bags after school, and support an emergency motel voucher program and Emergency Closets for six schools. These consist of grab-and-go type food, emergency clothing such as socks, T-shirts, underwear, and hygiene kits, at the special request from the student support advocate at each school.

Health and Population Budget – $2,100

Planned Parenthood – This organization provides health-care services to low-income women, including but not limited to reproductive health care. Education and advocacy are also important parts of their services.

Strength over Speed – This Seattle-based organization provides peer-based support services to the LGBTQ community dealing with addiction and recovery.  Our funds cover the cost of their website, which reaches out to thousands locally & internationally.

Local Poverty Funds -­ $12,650

Car Camp – This safe, nighttime car camp was established in late 2015 in the EUUC parking lot for local families with children who are living in their cars. In 2016, it had 5 parking spaces and served 38 guests.  As of October 2017, the camp has 10 parking spaces and has served 69 guests.  Funds support a portable toilet and other supplies.  This increase in guests is resulting in a significant increase in operational costs.  In addition, the funds donated when it was first started are almost depleted.  Social Concerns is requesting $1000 over previous years for this project.

Cold Weather Shelter – In partnership with other South Snohomish County churches, our efforts provide a hot meal and a warm place to sleep for those in need in our area. Our volunteers also provide a breakfast and lunch to-go. EUUC is responsible for staffing the shelter one night per week whenever the temperature drops below 34 degrees F. The funding covers meals and other expenses. Up to 60 members of EUUC volunteer for this program.

Concern for Neighbors Food Bank – This fund enables the purchase of much needed food and household goods that low-income community members can access at area food banks.

Garden Project – These funds support the vegetable garden at EUUC, which donates produce to area food banks on a weekly basis.  Students in our religious education program often help with planting in the spring.

Interfaith Shelter – This is the only family transitional housing program in Snohomish County. This fund subsidizes rent for several families when they leave the shelter, helping until they are stable enough to pay rent on their own. The fund also provides money for kitchen and bath supplies for the shelter residents. Several members of our church continue to volunteer at the shelter.

Neighbors in Need – Our primary project in support of Neighbors in Need through a partnership with Trinity Lutheran Church is preparing and serving brunch once a month to homeless and low-income people.  A dozen EUUC friends and members prepare and serve the food.  The number of individuals coming for the brunch has greatly increased in the past several month, and the trend continues.  (Over 200 were served in October 2017, twice the average number in 2013.)

Emerging Needs / Joint Events Budget -­ $3,000

Managed by the Social Justice Council

In the arena of social justice work, we cannot know what issues will weigh prominently in 3 months or a year.  We want to remain nimble so we can participate in important social justice issues that are continually evolving in our society and the world. The Emerging Needs fund allows us to engage while the issues are playing out and our contribution will have the greatest impact.

The Emerging Needs fund could be accessed for a new project, to pay for hosting social justice projects and events that fall outside the current work of the Social Justice committees, or to pay for expenses related to issues that two or more Social Justice committees, or the congregation, are working on – for example, congregational stands.  In 2017/18 we funded the newly formed Racial Justice Workgroup from this fund.  We are increasing our request by $1000 from the previous year.

Social Responsibility Fund – $2,000

Managed by the Social Justice Council

Our appreciation of Unitarian Universalist voices and deeds in the national and international social justice arenas prompts us to give annual membership fees to UUSC (the UU Service Committee), Washington State UU Voices for Justice, and the NW UU Justice Network. These organizations engage in improving the lives of people around the globe and they amplify our Unitarian Universalist voice and good works in the world, our country, and Washington State.  We are also members of the Faith Action Network, another opportunity to make our voice stronger in Washington State, as we collaborate with other local faiths on issues that demonstrate our similar values.  We are asking an additional $250 for membership in Earth Ministries, a local organization that is an effective leader in engaging the faith community in environmental stewardship and advocacy.

Social Justice Training Reserves Line (new) ­- $0

Managed by the Social Justice Council

It is important that we develop our Social Justice capacity, through training in social justice issues as well as organizing and leadership. This might include hosting workshops, or providing stipends for EUUC folk, including youth, to attend social justice trainings or special events. This is difficult to budget for each year, as needs and opportunities will vary. Therefore, with the approval of the Finance committee and EUUC Board, we have set up a Social Justice Training Reserve line, which will retain its funding from year to year. Setting aside training funds allows us to fully use our social justice pledge funds each year. We have funded this reserve line with $5000 of carryover funds that had accumulated the past few years (carryover funds result when received pledge funds are higher than were budgeted for, or when budgeted funds weren’t fully spent). In future years if the balance in this reserve fund becomes low, we will budget a transfer from pledge funds.

Sunday Offerings ­- $0

Managed by the Sunday Offerings Committee

The Sunday Offerings committee researches and selects worthy tax-exempt organizations which are then approved by the Social Justice Council and the Board of Trustees.  Each month one of those organizations is identified as the “cause of the month” and promoted during Sunday services.  100% of donations received for the cause are paid to that organization after the close of that month.