For some, “The New Colossus” — Emma Lazarus’ poem inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty — has taken on new meaning in light of recent negative rhetoric against immigrants, refugees and human rights.
But it remains for many others as inspiration to take action to uphold the United States’ democratic values. The way Mary Broach went about it was by creating a new giving circle called New Colossus Donors this past December, specifically “aimed at supporting core values of our democracy and/or important issue areas that seem threatened or in flux,” Broach wrote in an email.
“After the election, like so many others, I found myself wanting to do something positive and find a way to engage meaningfully in politics and policy issues,” she said.
It makes sense why Broach decided to go with collective donating — you’re most likely familiar with the women’s collective giving circle she cofounded with Beth Dahle, Impact100 Philadelphia. (Broach assured us that there is no affiliation between Impact100 and New Colossus Donors.)
"I found myself wanting to do something positive and find a way to engage meaningfully in politics and policy issues."
The idea behind creating New Colossus Donors was not just to create another local giving circle but to start a replicable model that others could use to donate to causes they feel are most important. Broach said that she’s already aware of three or four other New Colossus groups that are forming around the country.
And the immediate differences between New Colossus Donors and other giving circles all have to do with flexibility: People can form a New Colossus group of any size they like, each group can meet according to the schedule that works for them, they choose their own groups to donate to and the amounts donated can vary. Even though Broach started this as a women’s giving circle, men are welcome to join or start their own, too.
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The only consistent aspect among the groups will be the mission and the name — and there’s a reason for that.
“The most powerful thing, I think, will be all the New Colossus groups sharing ideas on Facebook and Twitter, and through email updates,” she said. “From each other, we’ll learn about organizations we might want to support.”
Broach’s first group of five members in the Philadelphia area has already met three times. At its third meeting on Friday, Feb. 24, they decided to which organizations they would donate.
Here are the four organizations — focused on the issues of fake news, climate change, immigration and combatting hate — that will be receiving a collective total of $6,750 in unrestricted funds (with descriptions of why per meeting notes provided by Broach):
- News Literacy Project — “The problem of fake news arises on both sides of the political spectrum. Though fake news poses a clear threat, it is encouraging that people are seeking information from more sources, and mainstream newspapers have seen circulations surge since the election. The ‘pros’ we identified for funding NLP included that it fills a clear need, and implements innovative programs very effectively.”
- Union of Concerned Scientists — “We felt that UCS is an important charity to fund, particularly at this time. The organization’s scientists ‘share information, seek the truth, and let our findings guide our conclusions,’ and advocate science-based solutions to major world problems.”
- Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center (PIRC) — “PIRC steps in to hold weekly classes to teach detainees how to represent themselves in court, but PIRC also looks for the most vulnerable (people who have experienced trauma, those with mental health diagnoses, victims of violent crime, and others) and connects them with a legal representative, whether a volunteer law student or a staff lawyer.”
- Not In Our Town — “Not In Our Town uses film to document anti-hate efforts in specific towns to help create safe and inclusive communities throughout the country. … NIOT says that supporters can fund emergency responses to communities seeking help, or hold a film screening and create dialogue so people no longer look away from what may be happening in their neighborhoods.”
This story includes additional reporting from Julie Zeglen.-30-
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