Since 2014, TSNE MissionWorks has supported community-led and cross-sector networks in addressing educational, economic, environmental, and racial inequities through a grant program called the Inclusion Initiative. The Inclusion Initiative has provided nearly $865,000 in grants for 15 networks in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Grants helped these networks achieve significant impact, such as state legislation that recognizes worker-owned cooperatives as legal business entities; a progressive policing ordinance; the development of an incubation program for Indigenous artists; a resident-led community investment fund; and an indigenous language immersion school that is expected to increase the educational outcomes of marginalized students.
In 2017, the Inclusion Initiative launched a program planning process to inform the next iteration of the work. Comprised of a diverse group of TSNE MissionWorks program, leadership staff and board members and drawing on feedback from the community, the planning team identified a critical question that gets at the work of the Inclusion Initiative and the work of TSNE MissionWorks itself: How can TSNE MissionWorks better support and build the capacity of organizations and groups that work to advance equity?
To answer this question, TSNE MissionWorks seeks to deepen our own understanding of the capacity building supports these groups need and, eventually, to develop our own capacity to provide these supports.
In recognition of these needs, TSNE MissionWorks is discontinuing the Inclusion Initiative as it has been historically structured. We maintain a deep commitment to addressing inequity and will focus our energies over the next year or so on understanding the capacity building needs of groups working to advance equity, and on identifying ways that TSNE MissionWorks can best meet those needs.
“Over the past five years, it has been my honor and privilege to partner with and learn from so many courageous leaders and incredible organizations working for social justice in their communities,” says Trina Jackson, Community Engagement Manager, TSNE MissionWorks. “They will inspire me every day to deepen our practice in supporting groups that advance equity.”
Inclusion Initiative Grantees
Barbershop Health Network
The Barbershop Health Network partners with men of color by recognizing them as leaders in their communities with valuable information. BHN moves towards eradicating poverty through engaging men of color in meaningful ways and supporting them with opportunities to be gainfully employed and to provide leadership in addressing root causes of poor health — inequality, racial segregation and concentrated poverty.
Blue Hill Corridor Planning Network
The resident-led network is focused on understanding city decisions about development within Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan. On January 17, 2018, the network successfully launched a resident-led planning authority, the Blue Hill Corridor Planning Commission, to monitor development in their neighborhoods and to start a market for neighborhood residents to promote home based businesses. Read more.
Boston Tenant Coalition
The Boston Tenant Coalition’s vision is to bring together a cohort of groups that are in agreement that the key to public housing leadership, unity, and successful organizing is to bring people together to analyze the root causes of their poverty-related hardships. Their strategy is to form democratic, community-led, structures that focus on changing systems to benefit all — not just those in positions of authority in tenant task forces or elsewhere in Boston public housing.
Care Worker Democracy Network
The network seeks to transform Boston’s care industry through collaboration of care workers, care consumers, local government, academia, and businesses, and by answering the question, "What does quality, fair, and affordable care look like?"
Immigrant Youth Leadership and Solidarity Initiative
The Immigrant Youth Leadership and Solidarity Initiative network is focused on cultivating immigrant youth leadership in social change efforts. Their mission is to develop and then sustain structures and activities that continually promote immigrant youth leadership moving forward. Each group will nourish its own youth leadership efforts via the network. The network will provide the space for reflection, training, peer learning, relationship-building and solidarity across ethnic groups and neighborhoods.
Indigenous Empowerment Initiative
This network brings equity to the Native American community of Rhode Island through the eradication of poverty through a new education and job training model. The strategy of how this will be done is multifaceted. Education is a means to end poverty. However, for communities that have been subjugated, education was used as a tool to oppress. Indigenous peoples, often lack trust for the mainstream educational process. The statistics are staggering on the failure of the education system for Native American youth.
In December 2017, IEN won a $99,000 Federal grant from the US Department of Agriculture to develop their business incubation program for Indigenous artists with technical assistance and professional development services, and to increase public access to Native art. Learn more.
Independent Women’s Project Network
The Independent Women Project is a multi-sectoral collaboration tailored to address the specific needs of female heads of households and the unique barriers they face in gaining access to the job opportunities in the building and construction trades.
Mattapan United’s vision is to improve the quality of life in Mattapan for all residents and to continue to foster Mattapan as a diverse neighborhood of opportunity — where children thrive, families are more happy then stressed, and economic prosperity is available to all.
P.O.W.E.R. Network (People Owning Wider Economic Resources)
The P.O.W.E.R Network’s vision is to significantly contribute to the eradication of poverty in the Central Falls, RI community by incubating and providing ongoing support to a diversity of worker owned co-operative businesses who will commit to the principles of co-operative governance, which includes democratic control by the workers and concern for community.
The network successfully passed legislation at the state level to recognize worker owned cooperatives as legal business entities. Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo signed the legislation into law in October 2017. For workers who control their own economic destiny through worker co-ops, they can create living-wage, quality jobs for those most vulnerable to income inequality. Learn more.
Roxbury Food Justice Hub
The Roxbury Food Justice Hub’s vision is to develop the Roxbury Food Justice Hub as both a physical space and a network of collaborative partners. The Roxbury Food Justice Hub will serve as a centering force and headquarters for Boston’s urban food movement, enabling unprecedented collaboration, leadership development, and consolidation of resources to address Boston’s food challenges. It will house both work and community space, including the headquarters of several food and food justice community organizations and businesses, and meeting space for other related community groups.
Standing Together to End Poverty and Undo Profiling (STEP UP Network)
STEP UP’s vision is to shift away from a dynamic in which a small group of professional advocates frames the issue for a hostile public by applauding police intentions while accepting the broader strategy of overpolicing poor communities of color. Instead, they envision creating public dialogue that radiates outward from the communities most affected by racial profiling — neighborhoods where young people, former prisoners, the parents and children of those profiled, arrested, and deported, have first hand knowledge to share about the severe and lasting economic effects of the current system.
They successfully won the Community Safety Act, passed by the Providence City Council in June 2017 and signed into law by the Mayor the same month. The CSA mandates, among other things, greater transparency and accountability in police-community interactions and prohibits racial and other forms of discriminatory policy. The Providence City Council called the legislation “one of the most progressive policing bills in the United States,” one that “includes a broad range of measures that strengthen protections for youth, transgender individuals, people of color, and immigrants”. Learn more.
The Ujima Project is organizing neighbors, workers, business owners and investors to create a new community controlled economy in Greater Boston. In August 2016, they organized the Ujima Solidarity Summit with 200 people from the community to pool $20,000 to invest in five Black and immigrant owned businesses. In the fall of 2017, Boston Ujima Project launched the Ujima Capital Fund with small micro-grants of $500 to 15 local artists. Learn more.
Wampanoag Language Children’s House Network
The Wôpanâak Montessori School Network (WMSN) is creating a Pre-K through Grade 5 immersion school that, through a Wampanoag language immersion and a culture-based educational framework, not only creates a foundation for long term success but also addresses the devastating social, educational and cultural factors that impact the Wampanoag community.
In 2016, the network opened a full-day language immersion preschool, Mukayuhsak Weekuw, with certified teachers instructing 20 three-to-five-year-olds in the Wampanoag language all day long. In September 2017, in partnership with the Mashpee public schools and the Wampanoag Tribal Council, the network helped to launch the first class in the indigenous language at Mashpee Middle/High School. Learn more.
Worcester Solidarity and Green Economy Network
Worcester SAGE Alliance plans to build an ecology of cooperative and community owned and run initiatives for a green and solidarity economy in Worcester and the rest of the bioregion.