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The March for Science

This past Saturday, on every continent, in every US state, tens of thousands of people gathered and marched for the first March for Science. Described as a pro-science, political, but not partisan event, the march celebrated and championed science. The march’s goals ranged from supporting scientists, humanizing science, uniting scientists and supporters in partnership, advocating for open, inclusive and accessible science, to affirming science as a democratic value. Participants creatively translated these ideals to humorous signs proclaiming “Got Plague? Me Neither. Thanks Scientist” and “What do we want? Science based policy. When do we want it? After peer review.” The march’s full mission can be seen below.

The march had humble beginnings when one of the co-founders Caroline Weinberg mentioned the idea this past January on social media. Two and half months later, Caroline and her co-leads, Jonathan Berman and Valorie Aquino had coordinated, organized, and facilitated a global movement and march with six hundred rallies and tens of thousands of people participating in both major metropolis’ as well as more remote locations like Wake Island and Atka Island, Alaska. Some of The Overbrook Foundation’s own staff marched through the drizzle in New York City. Please enjoy some of our favorite pictures (and signs!) below.

Overbrook played a small role in supporting the march’s organization by providing space to Caroline. Our staff can personally attest to the hard work and long hours put into making this march a reality. Caroline, Jonathan, and Valorie have mentioned that in the coming months they will try to harness and translate this incredible energy into action. We congratulate them on this monumental success and wish them luck with their future work! We encourage you to check out their website here to learn more.

The March for Science champions robustly funded and publicly communicated science as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity. We unite as a diverse, nonpartisan group to call for science that upholds the common good and for political leaders and policy makers to enact evidence based policies in the public interest.

Human Rights Grants Awarded at March Board Meeting!

On March 6, 2013, The Overbrook Foundation’s Board of Directors met and voted to award 14 grants through its Human Rights Program.  With these grants, the Foundation recognized organizations effectively building a domestic human rights movement, advocating for reproductive justice, advancing marriage equality for same-sex couples and promoting media reform.  On the international side, the Foundation's Human Rights program will continue supporting organizations defending human rights defenders and advancing gender rights in Latin America.  In all, $727,500 in human rights grants was approved at the meeting.

Over the next year, three organizations building a domestic human rights movement will receive Overbrook grants.  ACLU’s Human Rights Program will receive a renewal of $60,000.  The Innocence Project will receive a grant of $70,000 over two years for its work exonerating those who have been wrongfully convicted and advancing important reforms to the United States’ criminal justice system to prevent wrongful convictions.   Public Interest Project’s new Sunrise Initiative for Human Rights in the U.S. will receive a grant of $150,000.   As the successor to the US Human Rights Fund, this new donor collaborative will be critical in supporting the organizations building a domestic human rights movement, particularly those working on issues relating to the intersection of immigration enforcement and the criminal justice system.

Marriage equality for same-sex couples, the central focus of the Foundation’s support for domestic LGBTQ rights, will be advanced through three grants awarded this month.  The Foundation will award $87,500 over two years to Freedom to Marry and $105,000 over two years to Lambda Legal.  Additionally, a grant of $100,000 will be awarded to the Proteus Fund’s Civil Marriage Collaborative.  Given this year’s momentum in the campaign for marriage equality, the Foundation is pleased to renew support to these organizations for this important work.

The Center for Reproductive Rights will receive $140,000 over two years for its U.S. program and its Latin America program.  In both regions, the Center continues to advance reproductive rights and access to reproductive healthcare for all women, particularly young women, low-income women and women who belong to marginalized communities that are most at risk from reproductive rights violations and restrictions across the Americas.

Through the Foundation’s media portfolio,  Overbrook will award grants to Free Press and New America Media.  Free Press will receive $90,000 over two years in general support. New America Media will be awarded a grant of $30,000 for its project sponsoring ethnic media’s coverage of the stories of immigrant women.

Four grants (a total of $130,000 in March 2013) will be awarded to organizations defending human rights defenders in Latin America.  The Committee to Protect Journalists will receive $25,000 to defend frontline journalists in Mexico.  $25,000 will be given to the Environmental Defender Law Center for general support of its work in Latin America.  Human Rights Watch will continue to combat human rights abuses in Mexico over the next two years with the help of an Overbrook grant of $90,000.  And finally, a renewal grant of $35,000 will support the Indian Law Resource Center’s project to defend the natural land and resource rights of the Maya Q’eqchi’ and the safety of local activists fighting for these rights.

Finally, International Planned Parenthood/Western Hemisphere Region will receive a grant of $30,000 in support of its work promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights in Latin America.

Congratulations to these grantee partners! The Foundation is pleased to renew its support to these organizations as they continue to advance critical human rights in the U.S. and Latin America.

Human Rights Grants Awarded

At the Foundation's September Board Meeting, The Overbrook Foundation's Board of Directors approved three grants under the Human Rights program. The total amount awarded in September will be $125,000. All three organizations are new to the Foundation.

First, the Board approved a $50,000 grant to the Museum of Jewish Heritage for its upcoming exhibit Brothers’ Keepers. Stay tuned for this exhibit on the role of prominent Jewish American families in helping European Jews to immigrate to the US from Europe under the Nazi regime. In fact, Overbrook’s founders Frank and Helen Altschul and their relatives figure among those who used their influence to save Jews from the Holocaust. It should be a great exhibit opening in Spring 2013.

A grant of $25,000 will be awarded to the Human Rights Project for Girls for general operating support. At the intersection of the Foundation’s human rights and reproductive justice portfolios, this new organization strives to advance and defend the human rights of girls in the US. Using this frame, it will advocate for the end of the practice of shackling, examine the pathway for many from being sexually abused to entering the juvenile justice system and it will advocate for anti-trafficking measures.

United Republic Education Fund will receive $50,000 for general support as a part of the Foundation’s new interest in supporting organizations striving to reform the role of money in politics. The Foundation believes that our grantees' advocacy can only be fairly heard if the role of big money, big lobbyists, and big donors in the American political system is curtailed. This new organization is building a grassroots, non-partisan movement to fight for a political system that works for Americans and their concerns rather than wealthy interests.

Congratulations to these new grantees! Each project is very different but they do all share the Foundation’s commitment to advancing and recognizing fair democracy and human rights. We look forward to seeing their important work over the next year.

Overbrook Environment Grantee Releases How-To Video

If you already miss Easter eggs, check out a great new video from Overbrook Environment grantee ioby (In Our Backyards) showcasing how to raise chickens in an urban environment. In the video, Bee Ayers of BK Farmyards talks about the basics of urban chickening in both private and communal urban environments. This is the first how-to video from ioby - a great start to what will no doubt be a fun series. Thanks to organizations like ioby, we are reminded that the environment is not just the rainforests or glaciers of the world, but our own backyards.

Value of Human Rights Video in ICC Verdict on Thomas Lubanga Guilty of War Crimes

Yesterday, the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague convicted the Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga of war crimes for using children as soldiers. And while this victory lies outside of Overbrook’s geographic grantmaking focus, it is an extremely important decision as a standard for international human rights and justice systems. Additionally, one of our grantees, WITNESS, has long been involved in building the case against Mr. Lubanga and providing video evidence of the devastating human rights violations under his command.WITNESS uses video advocacy to effectively document human rights violations and to support human rights advocacy campaigns. As seen in this case, the organization is also active in collecting and producing footage of human rights violations to be used in trial settings.In this case, WITNESS’ Program Manager for Africa and the Middle East, Bukeni Waruzi, provided video interviews with and footage of child soldiers impacted by this warlord. Please click here to view some of these videos and other videos associated with WITNESS’ campaign against using children as soldiers.

If you would like more information on this decision, WITNESS has asked us to share several links on this verdict and its significance, mainly articles from mainstream news sources and information on their campaigns. First, you can read more about the verdict in print through an article from the New York Times or an article from the BBC.Second, you can listen to the details of the case through a report from BBC World Service, “Newshour”. Finally, you can learn more about WITNESS’ ongoing campaign against child soldiers, their contribution to the case, and their views of the significance of this verdict by visiting the campaign’s webpage or their blog.

Based on communication with WITNESS and these news articles, we can see that the critical role of video in this court case was undeniable. Mr. Waruzi reported that “when the judge was pronouncing the verdict he went through the crucial evidences that were used: they were videos. At some point he said, ‘Unable to dispute visual images and deny the sound, the video evidences presented to us were credible and outstanding.” Technologies, like video and social media, are becoming incredibly important for bringing about the enforcement of human rights.It is good to see that the years of work on this case by WITNESS and many others has paid off in this administration of justice, which may even pressure further action from the international community against similar criminals around the world.