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The Ostara Service Grant: Supporting New Organizations Promoting Tolerance and Understanding

No one can predict what the 2016 election results will mean for our nonprofit community. There is fear and so much uncertainty. Will there be cuts in federal spending for social service programs – and if so, how deep will they be? Will major gifts sharply decline if President-Elect Trump succeeds in securing the cap on tax deductions for individual charitable giving that he proposed on the campaign trail? How will the nonprofit sector handle demand from patients in need if the Affordable Care Act is repealed?

At the same time, we have seen a surge in support for progressive causes. The American Civil Liberties Union raised $7.2 million in the five days after the election. In The Atlantic, Cecile Richards – the president of Planned Parenthood –  described an “unprecedented outpouring of support,” with 80,000 donations made in the three days after the election. The Atlantic also reported that the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) saw a “simply unprecedented” spike of 500 volunteer applications in the days after the election.

The 2016 election is a unique moment in American history. But it shares an undeniable aftermath with the wake of the tragedy of the 9/11 attacks: an alarming rise in hateful speech and acts. In 2001, it was fear of and violence against Muslims, Arabs, Sikhs and South Asians. Today, it is a heart-wrenching combination of words and deeds against LGBTQ people, African-Americans, Latinos and Hispanics, Muslims, Jews, immigrants, and other marginalized and oppressed populations.

In the months after 9/11, Seattle responded to a rising climate of hate and fear with innovation, tenacity, and compassion. In fact, at least three extraordinary Seattle-based nonprofits that now work effectively to promote tolerance and understanding were founded in the months following 9/11:

OneAmerica:  Originally named Hate Free Zone, OneAmerica was founded directly after the 9/11 attacks by Pramila Jayapal and others in response to hate crimes and discrimination targeting Arabs, Muslims, East Africans and South Asians. With base groups in 11 Washington cities, OneAmerica is now the largest immigrant advocacy organization in Washington State, and has registered more than 40,000 immigrant voters.

Tasveer: Rita Meher and Farah Nousheen founded Tasveer in 2002 to “provide a platform for South Asians to engage and express ourselves, and dispel stereotypes of us in the mainstream media and community.” Tasveer’s first festival showed just a dozen films. Today, Tasveer produces the largest South Asian film festival in the country, and events like Yoni Ki Baat, “The Vagina Monologues” in Hindi.  “Our work was important [after 9/11] and now again after Presidential election, to stand against in the wake of hateful sentiments and xenophobia,” says Meher.

OneWorld Now!: One World Now! (OWN) brings foreign language skills, leadership training, and study abroad opportunities to youth without access to such opportunities. Students in high-need schools learn Chinese, Arabic, or Korean, and have the chance to study abroad in these cultures. Founder Kristen Hayden wrote in the OWN blog: “Tired of complaining about the inequity and injustice in our nation’s public schools leadership and foreign-policy, we launched OneWorldNow! after the tragic events of 9/11 as a good-faith effort to be ‘part of the solution’.”

The Ostara Group wants to be part of the solution too. Our work has always supported organizations in our community fighting injustice, but in the wake of this election, we specifically aim to help the next great nonprofit whose mission promotes peace and understanding in a time of fear.

To that end, we are offering our first Service Grant: 25 hours of free consulting services on an application basis, to either:

Individuals in Washington State who want to start a new nonprofit to promote understanding, encourage compassion, and dispel stereotypes. We are particularly interested in ventures that help groups of people who have historically not seen eye to eye come together in new ways.

Existing nonprofits in Washington State with budgets less than $300,000 in 2015 may also apply for support of their on-going work (or new projects) that promote understanding, encourage compassion, and dispel stereotypes.

True inspiration arises from our most challenging moments. We offer this Service Grant to encourage the profoundly meaningful ideas you are working on, and support your ability to play an important part in elevating our culture, society, economy, and values. Thank you for taking the time to be a part of this work – we look forward to hearing from you!


Team Ostara

Ali, Ariel, Bailey, Casey, Ella, Forrest, Jackie, Karen, Kyle, Kye, Peter, Rebecca, Sarah and Talia 

To apply to our service grant, please submit the form below. We recommend drafting your answers in separate document and pasting them into the form itself. Submissions will be accepted through 5 pm on January 31, 2017; our decision will be announced by March 31, 2017.


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