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#MeToo Movement Funding Awarded in Participatory Grantmaking Process

The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts has announced $45,000 in grant awards based on recommendations from a committee led by local survivors of sexual violence and harassment.

The Women’s Fund convened a committee of women from across Western MA to review applications and recommend these five 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.

Meet the five grantees who are working locally on the prevention and intervention of sexual-based violence:

Berkshire County

Elizabeth Freeman Center’s Berkshires Believe program will 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. The project has two prongs: a large-scale community engagement initiative focused on sexual violence awareness and prevention and a targeted training program to build community capacity to support survivors of sex trafficking within Berkshire County.

Franklin County

Root Studio Inc. in Turner’s Falls is rooted within the bodies of the girls with whom they work, helping to break the cycles of family trauma, poverty, sexual assault, and substance-use disorder by teaching yoga and meditation-based skills to help them take charge of their lives. The entire experience of practicing yoga can help survivors find union between seemingly disconnected and challenging aspects of the self, allowing participants to slowly build the pieces into an integrated whole. In addition to yoga-based practices, the studio will provide a private and quiet space with a supportive adult presence. Space for participants to rest, read, make art, journal, do homework, and for self-care.

Franklin County

Salasin Project’s Healthy Relationships after Trauma program centers 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. Once a woman has been released from the jail she will be offered individual advocacy to assist in securing stable housing; treatment and employment; the choice of attending the Beyond Trauma Group at Salasin; and the ability to earn a stipend for assisting with support groups and outreach. After experiencing the powerlessness of being imprisoned offering these survivors choices, treating the women with respect and compassion, and furthering their leadership is paramount.

Hampden County

Human In Common will provide a three-part training project at Chestnut Middle School in Springfield. The project will include an 8-hour Healthy Relationships course for up to 16 middle school students, a Train-the-Trainer course for up to 16 middle school students and up to 8 staff, and a series of their “Ethical Upstander: Interrupting Sexual Violence and Harassment” workshops for approximately 80 members of the student body. The proposed trainings 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.

Hampshire County

Safe Passage’s Say Something program consists of an 8-hour skills-focused training, grounded in effective strategies of bystander intervention and empowerment self-defense. It is provided free of charge for community members and volunteers. 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 the Say Something program, Safe Passage effectively 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.