Human Rights

ICE Raids Threaten Immigrant Families

This month, the Obama administration began an aggressive immigration operation targeting Central American asylum seekers for detainment and deportation. On the first weekend of the New Year, at a time when many were spending time with their loved ones for the holidays, at least 121 individuals primarily from Texas, Georgia, and North Carolina were taken into custody during a series of raids that immigration advocates are condemning as cruel and unconstitutional. Advocacy groups have received numerous reports of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials breaking down doors, deceiving immigrants into letting them enter homes without warrants, and detaining children as young as four years old.

Most of the victims of these raids have been families, often women and children, and many have recent or pending asylum claims. “Our interviews revealed that these families have bona fide asylum claims, but were deprived of a meaningful opportunity to present them at their hearings in immigration court,” Katie Shepherd, managing attorney for the CARA Project, said in a press statement. “It’s beyond shameful that these families, who risked everything to seek protection in the United States, were being forcibly returned to the violence and turmoil they fled in Central America.” Despite President Obama’s executive action on DAPA, which provides deferred action status for some undocumented immigrants and will be considered at the Supreme Court later this year, the Obama administration continues to deport the greatest number of immigrants of any president in history.  Immigrant rights advocates, including several Overbrook grantees, are challenging him to stop separating families, to do better for all immigrants and to halt this round of raids.

Repatriated families who were seeking refuge from violence may face an even greater risk to their lives than when they left, as the situation in Central America has been steadily deteriorating since 2014. These families may return to gang threats, gender violence, and other forms of persecution. For immigrant families in cities that have not been targeted by ICE raids, the fear of being next is palpable. Cities and neighborhoods with large Latino communities across the country are reporting decreased school and work attendance as immigrants try to remain indoors. Legal organizations and allied officials are encouraging immigrants continue go about daily activities, but to know their rights as these raids continue.

Same-Sex Couples Begin to Wed in New Jersey!

This past week, there has been some terrific news out of New Jersey! Last week, the New Jersey Supreme Court refused to postpone a lower court’s decision to allow a marriage equality law to go into effect. Subsequently, New Jersey Governor Chirs Christie dropped the state's case against marriage equality. As a result, today, the first same-sex couples in New Jersey have had the opportunity to get married! New Jersey has become the fourteenth state in the US to legalize civil marriage for same-sex couples. As more and more members of the American public are recognizing the importance of marriage equality for all couples, we recognize the tireless work of families and advocates over the past decade to affect this policy and culture change. With important progress in recent years, over 30% of people in the US now live in a state where there is marriage equality or recognition for out of state marriages between same-sex couples. Most importantly, we congratulate all the New Jerseyans who are now able to marry the people they love. For more information, please see Overbrook grantee Lambda Legal’s coverage here.

Apply for Advocates for Youth's Youth Fundraising Advisory Board!

The following post comes from our friends at Advocates for Youth (AFY) and, in particular, directly from an email from Julie Reticker-Flynn.  It invites any and all young activists to apply for AFY's Youth Fundraising Advisory Board.  Through this experience and the resources provided by AFY, young people will learn valuable fundraising skills to help them raise money for the causes and organizations they care about. As a Foundation, we definitely understand how important successful fundraising abilities are for non-profit leaders. This is a great opportunity to network and gain these skills early on in your career:

Are you interested in or already pursuing a career in the non-profit sector? Do you volunteer with non-profit organizations and want to take on a leadership role? Want to learn fundraising skills but not sure where to start?

Advocates for Youth is accepting applications until June 30, 2013 for its Youth Fundraising Advisory Board (Y-FAB)!

Elizabeth, a 24 year old Y-FAB alum, says: The cool thing about the program is that it carves out this space for Millennials to practice philanthropy. Theoretically, anyone could raise funds for an organization, but without leadership, support, and resources, it takes a lot to do it on your own. Advocates providing all of that is what makes Y-FAB so great. It has the potential to evolve into a powerful fundraising and organizing tool...

20 applicants will be selected to join Y-FAB – a select group of young people interested in learning the essentials of fundraising.  Knowledge and skills in fundraising are vital for leaders of the non-profit sector.  Y-FAB gives you the opportunity to work as part of a team in a virtual learning environment towards a joint fundraising goal to test and improve your fundraising skills.

Don’t have any fundraising experience? No problem, no experience required! Members are selected to serve a one-year term from August 2013 to May 2013. Through Y-FAB you will receive fundraising skills training, ongoing coaching, resources to help with fundraising efforts, and networking opportunities with other youth leaders and nonprofit professionals.

Applications are due June 30th, 2013. Apply now!

Human Rights Grants Awarded at June Board Meeting

When The Overbrook Foundation’s Board of Directors met on June 5, it voted to award 14 grants through its Human Rights Program.  A total of $455,000 was awarded to human rights organizations in June.  The Board is pleased to announce these grants in recognition of the important work of the Foundation's grantees promoting human rights at home and abroad!


Most of these awards renewed previous grants; however, first-time grants have been awarded to the US Human Rights Network and Rights Working Group. Rights Working Group, a coalition of 340 local, state and national organizations striving to promote racial justice, immigrant rights and human rights, and end racial profiling, received a $25,000 grant for general operating support. The US Human Rights Network was awarded a grant of $30,000 to support its conference - Advancing Human Rights 2013: Dignity. Justice. Action. This conference, taking place from Friday, December 6, 2013 to Sunday, December 8 2013, will consist of sessions along four thematic tracts: immigration policy and enforcement; criminal justice and mass incarceration; economic policy and workers rights; and, environmental and climate justice. It will be a great opportunity for a wide variety of grassroots and national organizations to come together, share, learn and build a stronger inclusive and connected movement for human rights in the United Sates. As national organizations, both Rights Working Group and the US Human Rights Network play critical roles bringing together and supporting the work of grassroots groups advocating for human rights domestically.


Next, we would like to list the grantees receiving renewals from the Foundation at this meeting. These organizations further the following Foundation initiatives: building a domestic human rights movement, expanding reproductive justice in the US, advancing media reform, defending Latin American Human Rights Defenders and promoting gender rights in Latin America. Throughout the summer, we will be highlighting many of these grantees on the blog so that readers can learn more about their strategies and initiatives, as well as specific victories and accomplishments. Below we have simply outlined the grants awarded, the projects supported by Overbrook and links to our grantee partners’ websites with more information:


Domestic Human Rights
Domestic Human Rights Movement
• The NYCLU received a grant of $70,000 over two years for Advancing New Yorkers’ Human Rights
• The Urban Justice Center’s Human Rights Project and Sex Workers Project were awarded a grant of $40,000


Reproductive Justice
• A $30,000 grant for general operating support was awarded to the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program
Forward Together also received a $30,000 grant for general operating support for its Youth Organizing Program and its leadership role in the Strong Families Initiative
Freedom Network USA was awarded a grant of $20,0000 for Training, Technical Assistance and Mentoring: A Road to Rights Based Advocacy in Human Trafficking
Human Rights Project for Girls received a general operating support grant of $20,000


Mother Jones received a $20,000 for its reporting on human rights, environmental issues and the role of money in politics
WNYC has been awarded an $80,000 grant over two years for On the Media


International Human Rights
Human Rights Defenders
• A $60,000 grant over two years was awarded to Peace Brigades International for protecting Human Rights Defenders in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Colombia
Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights – Latin America received a $40,000 renewal for general operating support
WITNESS received $90,000 over two years for promoting Human Rights in the Americas Through Video-For-Change


Gender Rights
• The 2013 International Human Rights Fellowship Program at the University of Chile Law School’s Centro de Derechos Humanos will be supported with a grant of $50,000


These are all fantastic organizations and we encourage you to explore their work through their websites and social media outlets. As we renew and initiate partnerships with these 14 groups, we thank them for the innovation, dedication and tireless activism that they bring to their work advocating for and building a more just and equitable world, a world with strong movements for social justice where human rights are respected.

The Overbrook Foundation's (belated) New Year's Blogging Resolution

As part of our commitment to showcasing the amazing work of our grantee organizations - from preventing massive development in pristine ecosystems, to developing sustainable backyards in your backyards, to tackling plastics pollution - The Overbrook Foundation will begin including select blogs, articles, and news items directly from our grantees.

So please check back often for updates - and follow us on Twitter!


The Overbrook Foundation Team

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.