(Ferguson, MO) — The Action Support Committee, recently organized by musician Talib Kweli, announced today it is allocating more than $100,000 in grants to community programs from grassroots organizations doing work in Ferguson, Missouri. The grants will be distributed in multiple rounds of funding beginning in February and spanning through the Fall of 2015.
On October 19, 2014, Talib Kweli, Tef Poe, Tory Russell, Donna Dragotta and Autumn Marie launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign titled the Ferguson Defense Fund (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/ferguson-defense-fund). The fund was created to support Ferguson activists who had been protesting for over 60 days with heavy resistance by the local police. The campaign raised a total of $112,052 ($104,208 after 7% Indiegogo fees), exploding well beyond its initial goal of $25,000 upon the announcement of the non-indictment of police officer Darren Wilson in the murder of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
“These are young men and women who have put their lives on hold to stand up for all of our freedoms,” says musician and activist Talib Kweli. “The overly militarized police force in Ferguson has attempted to criminalize them by harassing and throwing them in jail for exercising their right to peaceful protest. We hope these funds help to empower.”
Talib Kweli has established The Action Support Committee to create and administer grants for the fund. The committee is comprised of artists, organizers and activists from a wide range of backgrounds including:
● Aisha Alexander (Development Director, Dream Defenders)
● Autumn Marie (Activist, Curator)
● Diamond Latchison (Freedom Fighters)
● Kayla Reed (Organization For Black Struggle St. Louis)
● Liz Manne (Activist, Strategist)
● Miles Solay (Musician, Outernational)
● Orlando Jones (Actor, Writer)
● Phillip Agnew (Executive Director, Dream Defenders)
● Patrisse Cullors (Black Lives Matter, Executive Director of Dignity and Power Now)
● Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou (Fellowship of Reconciliation)
● Rosa Clemente (Professor, 2008 Green Party Vice-Presidential Candidate)
● Talib Kweli (Musician)
The first phase of grants, totaling $48,800, will be distributed by Friday, February 13, 2015 to the following programs and organizations:
● JAIL & BAIL FUND: Missourians Organizing For Reform and Empowerment (MORE) — $35,000 — Designated explicitly for re-granting for bail funds and legal support for Ferguson protesters. (http://www.organizemo.org/)
● ARTISTS AS TUTORS: Artists as Tutors — $2,000 — Provides Ferguson students with homework help and sharing skills in music, visual art, creative writing and theater. (http://artistsastutors.weebly.com/)
● REVOLUTIONARY READING PROGRAM: Freedom Fighters — $2,000 — A Ferguson-based program collecting and disseminating historical black literature for adults and children. (http://twitter.com/ff_stl)
● TECH IMPACT INITIATIVE: Hands Up United — $2,000 — . As a way counter cyber warfare, close the digital divide and address the issues of economic equality, Hands Up United will lead technical training workshops to the Ferguson community. (http://www.handsupunited.org/)
● JUVENTUD RAZA UNIDA: Latinos en Axion STL — $2,000 — Youth leadership program for Latino youth between ages 12- 18. It will take place in the summer of 2015 and will promote self empowerment, community activism trainings and build Black and Brown collaborations with other St. Louis groups.
● THE TRANSITIONAL HOUSING PROGRAM: Operations Help or Hush — $2,000 — Provides transitional housing for protesters who have lost income or financial support and are facing homelessness as a result of their activism. (http://operationhelporhush.org/)
● BEREAVEMENT FUND: Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) — $3,800 –Working for peace, justice, and nonviolence since 1915, FOR has been in Ferguson providing providing assistance to bereaved families and activist groups on the ground. (http://forusa.org/)
Kayla Reed, a Ferguson-based organizer, commented, “This movement is by the people, for the people. The work of the Action Support Committee reflects this philosophy. We’ve focused on ensuring funds get into the hands of those who need it most.”
Of the remaining $54,000, $20,000 has been designated for the Action Support Committee’s Revolution School. The school will provide trainings, workshops and technical assistance for local organizers. The remaining $34,000 will be dedicated to grants for programs committed to sustaining the recent momentum of social justice organizing. The committee is developing an application process and will release the next round of grants late Spring, 2014.
“This is an example of how when the powers of social media and grassroots organizing combine, we can create our own systems of support and sustain our own social justice movements,” says Aisha Alexander, Development Director for Dream Defenders.
ABOUT THE ACTION SUPPORT COMMITTEE
The Action Support Committee (ASC) is a committee of activists, organizers and artists established by musician Talib Kweli. ASC is committed to supporting the ongoing social justice work of individuals and community organizations based in Ferguson, Missouri and at large.
For ASC Contact: