It has been 24 years since the Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock established The Long Island Unitarian Universalist Fund (LIUUF), a donor-advised fund, at the Long Island Community Foundation (LICF). Guided by an advisory committee who represent Unitarian Universalist congregations throughout Long Island, the LIUUF has awarded millions of dollars to nonprofits in Nassau and Suffolk counties to advance grassroots progressive social change. Often taking bold leadership, LIUUF has supported projects that build power among marginalized groups, advocate for policies and practices that level the playing field and make Long Island a more equitable and peaceful place for all of its residents.
“The LIUUF is committed to strengthening social justice on Long Island by using the power and resources of philanthropy,” explains Sol Marie Alfonso Jones, LICF senior program officer managing the Fund. “It opens pathways to civic participation among the region’s most vulnerable.”
Some of the goals of LIUUF grants include working to protect the civil and human rights of people of color, immigrants, women, GLBT individuals, and disadvantaged people; amplifying the voices of and providing concrete benefits to low-income communities; and promoting an inclusive vision of social, economic, and environmental justice.
As of December 2016
Number of grants: 506
Total awarded: $4,952,650
Average grant: $20,000
Advisors use these seven Unitarian Universalist principles to guide LIUUF grantmaking decisions:
- A belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every person;
- Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
- Acceptance of one another and encouragement of spiritual growth;
- A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
- The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process;
- The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
- Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
Change not Charity
Many charitable people respond to people in need, giving, for example, to nonprofits that help the homeless and the hungry. The LIUUF supports those who deal with the underlying causes of deep-rooted social problems and work to change these conditions. The power that social change organizations bring to the table is their ability to organize, to educate and to mobilize.
The following is but one example of an LIUUF grant that has produced positive change for one rapidly growing Latino community.
Located on the South Shore of Nassau County, the Five Towns area is made up by the hamlets of Lawrence, Cedarhurst, Woodmere, Hewlett, and Inwood. The Five Towns contains some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the metropolitan area, but Inwood is considered one of the poorest in the County. Despite the increase in Latino residents, many public institutions have not adapted their policies to respond, causing significant alienation and community tension.
The 100 year-old Five Towns Community Center (FTCC) is a nonprofit, multiservice agency that strengthens individual, family, and community life through a wide range of support services, health and education programs, community organizing, and advocacy. An investment from the LIUUF helped the nonprofit launch the Latino Empowerment Project—a program designed to provide a cadre of Latino residents with the skills, resources, and structure to advocate on behalf of their communities. The results have brought about real change for the Latino people in Inwood, improving communications and creating more inclusive policies in the school districts, like translation services and culturally sensitive practices.
“The LIUUF has had an important impact on Long Island nonprofits,” said Diane Cohen, Chair of the LIUUF Advisory Committee. “Monies have been granted to grassroots groups, which are battling injustices every day that keeps people from having equal access to resources. This social justice grantmaking brings UU principles to life.”
LIUU Advisory Committee
- Diane Cohen, Unitarian Universalist Central Nassau
- Stuart Lowrie, Unitarian Universalist Congregation South Fork
- Karyn O’Beirne, Unitarian Universalist Society of South Suffolk
- Linda Pfeiffer, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Stony Brook
- Adeline Quinn, South Nassau Unitarian Universalist Congregation
- Marian Russo, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Great South Bay
- Cynthia Stewart, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Stony Brook
- Jana North, Veatch Partner, Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock
Read more about LIUU’s grants that inspire social change…
SEPA Mujer (SEPA)
Long Island's Hispanic population has grown by 56% since 2000. This growth, largely fueled by immigration, has been met with volatile anti-immigrant sentiment in the region. The needs of undocumented Latinas on Long Island generally are overshadowed by the needs of the larger immigrant community. In all ways dependent on their male partners, and with primary responsibility for their children, immigrant women experience a particular vulnerability to abuse by their spouses, landlords, and employers. Rendered silent by the fear of potential deportation, poverty, language barriers, and limited access to assistance, these women can feel completely powerless and alone. In 2012, SEPA, an organization created to protect immigrant women from domestic violence, and to promote self-sufficiency, enhanced its signature leadership development program, “Ser Un Lider” (Know How To Be a Leader) with help from a $20,000 LIUUF grant. Ser Un Lider is designed to increase a participant's self-esteem and confidence, and provide skills training on such topics as how to organize and facilitate community meetings, document civil rights violations in the workplace, navigate educational opportunities, and access the social service and justice systems on Long Island. In the coming year, SEPA will enroll two new cohorts, each with 25 women, in the Ser Un Lider training program. Graduates from the previous year will help train the participants in the new cohorts. In addition to meetings with elected officials in Suffolk County and a meeting with elected officials in Albany, the group will participate in activities surrounding the annual United Nation Commission on the Status of Women regarding violence against immigrant women at the local level and its relationship to the status of women globally. Additionally, SEPA will expand its leadership model to reach Latina teenage girls by launching a summer institute where girls can explore their strengths and develop leadership skills. This project supports the Unitarian Universalist goal of a community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.
Long Island Gay And Lesbian Youth (LIGALY)
Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) individuals comprise 15% of Long Island's population. Yet despite its size, the GLBT community continues to face crippling quality of life issues as sexual orientation bias persists in schools, workplaces, communities
and homes. Organized as a small volunteer operation in 1993, Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth (LIGALY) provides education, leadership development, recreational programming, counseling, and social support services to thousands of GLBT youth and young adults, and their families annually. LIGALY emerged from the need of gay and lesbian young adults to organize them and advocate on their own behalf. Over the past 17 years, it has achieved wide recognition as a stalwart advocate for the rights of the GLBT community and has worked diligently to transform Long Island into a safer space. A $25,000 LIUUF grant helped to strengthen the capacity and responsiveness of the East End Gay Organization, one of the network affiliates of LIGALY. The organization’s work is consistent with the LIUU belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every person.
Watch this inspiring video, which begins with a historical look at social justice movements and leads to the current work of the LIUU Fund grantees...