We at Sightline share our favorite organizations to help inspire your end-of-year giving. We imagine these organizations will need our support more than ever in the coming years and want to amplify the great work that is happening in Cascadia and beyond. Have a favorite organization you’re giving to this year? Share it in the comments below!
To me, among the most egregious failings of the United States is its mental health “system.” That system, too often, consists of a rotation between homelessness and jail. Ten times as many people with schizophrenia and other forms of severe mental illness are locked in American prison as are in the nation’s psychiatric hospitals and other residential recovery facilities. My favorite organization working for mental health reform is the Treatment Advocacy Center (TAC), which aims to eliminate barriers to the timely and effective treatment of severe mental illness.
Among sustainability groups in the Northwest, I’m a big fan of Sightline, of course, but also of dozens of our peer organizations. This year, I’ll spotlight Conservation Northwest, which manages to bridge the rural-urban divide better than most. It’s a good time for such bridges.
ProPublica, an organization that neatly combines my former work life (I worked as a journalist for 18 years before joining Sightline last month) and my current one (it’s a media entity that operates as a nonprofit), has been doing remarkable journalism for about a decade. And I don’t just say that because I have friends who work there. More than ever, there is a need for a free press to hold our leaders and institutions accountable even while traditional media outlets face complicating economic factors. As ProPublica’s donation page says: the best way to combat #fakenews is by supporting real news.
I’m giving to the Brennan Center for Justice to help strengthen democracy, GiveDirectly because what poor people need is money, and to our local soup kitchen, St. Francis Dining Hall, to help people in need in our neighborhood.
A little over a decade ago, I helped start a scholarship for low income, international, and first generation students at Oberlin College, which is Alan’s and my alma mater. The Helping Hands Scholarship aims to annually award exemplary students who are actively involved in their communities. The fund provides financial assistance to cover textbooks, travel for academic or career opportunities, stipends for expenses during unpaid internships, graduate school exam preparation, study abroad expenses, and application fees related to these advancement areas. These expenses really add up for low income students, who usually have to work during college to cover basic expenses, distracting from school assignments and sometimes lowering academic performance.
Consider the Helping Hands Fund. Learn more here.
The scholarship is administered by the Multicultural Resource Center, whose contact info is at the link above.
Last year I recommended the South Seattle Emerald as my local media outlet to support. (I still recommend SSE!) This year, I’m also recommending the local outlet The Evergrey. In October 2016, Monica Guzman and Anika Anand launched The Evergrey to cover stories about how Seattle is changing, highlight diverse perspectives in the city, and feature fun things to do around town that will help you “live like you live here.” I love how they are helping Seattleites explore, understand, and shape the future of our city during this time of growth. (You should start with their fantastic video series “Getting Along in a Changing City.”)
In college I wrote about sexual harassment and abuse in female farmworker communities in California and worked with the strong and inspiring women at Lideres Campesinas who have been calling out sexual abuse in the fields for over a decade. Lideres Campesinas is a member of a larger national movement of female farmworkers called Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, both founded by my friend Mily Trevino Sauceda. They are receiving national awareness and support around the issue during the #MeToo movement but they can still use your help to elevate their message even more. The organization recently wrote a letter standing against sexual assault in Time magazine.
And again, my annual “donate to the Seattle Public Library!” spiel. I use the library almost every week and borrow cookbooks, graphic novels, beginner sewing books, the fiction book that I’m usually hold #200 for but somehow get it in less than a month… (It’s called library magic!) And it’s not just books! They have a trove of free resources including free museum passes and Lynda.com courses. And they have programs like InDesign and Illustrator downloaded on the library computers. Plus, a bunch of free events and an annual used book sale!
Independent media—especially outlets that actively challenge and refuse to normalize bigotry—is more important than ever, which is why I give monthly to Bitch Media. Founded and based in the Cascadian city of Portland, OR, Bitch is a feminist media organization dedicated to providing an engaged, thoughtful feminist response to mainstream media and pop culture. Bitch produces a quarterly magazine, online articles, a curated daily news service, weekly podcasts, and more to create an inclusive, no-bullshi*t space for intersectional feminism.
Puget Sound Goat Rescue is an organization that has my heartstrings wrapped around its little goat hooves. This volunteer-run nonprofit rescues goats all across the state of Washington from abusive homes, slaughterhouses, and abandonment. Click here for some baby goat cuteness!
Refugee resettlement is close to my heart. And right now my heart hurts more than ever for the families around the world being torn apart and children’s lives forever altered by violence and danger in their home countries. No one wants to become a refugee. But everyone deserves a safe haven. This year, I will be supporting agencies on the front lines overseas, like Doctors Without Borders and Refuge Point, as well as organizations here in Cascadia who champion resettlement efforts and support newly-arrived refugees working to rebuild their lives. Want to more directly welcome the stranger in your own communities? You can locate your closest resettlement agency here to see what kind of help they most need. (Direct links for: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, SE Alaska, and British Columbia!)
Over the last year, I’ve definitely come to appreciate the importance of independent media and have ramped up my giving in this area accordingly. My favorites are Anthropocene Magazine, InsideClimate News, and High Country News.
This year I also learned about Rainier Valley Corps, a local org that “promotes social justice by cultivating leaders of color, strengthening organizations led by communities of color, and fostering collaboration between diverse communities” (and check out NonprofitAF while you’re at it).
I wish I could support all of the environmental organizations out there doing heroic things in this scary time, but since I can’t, here are the ones I’ve chosen for 2017:
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STAND.earth has been attacked multiple times this year by corporations and government representatives, including an attempt by pipeline company Enbridge to seize their assets and shut down their Vancouver, BC office and a failed motion brought by a conservative MP accusing them of “waging misinformation campaigns” against the logging industry. Anybody who is doing this good a job of ticking off the bad guys deserves our full support!
And, in light of the Interior Department’s decision to remove protections for vast portions of Bears Ears and Grand Escalante National Monuments, I will be supporting the groups who are suing the Trump administration to stop this blatant theft of public land. This includes the Native American Rights Fund, which is representing the Hopi, Zuni and Ute Mountain Ute in the lawsuit, and the Public Lands Defense Fund, which supports organizations working to “preserve and defend the integrity of our public lands system”.
And finally, we donated to March On—the new political arm of the Women’s March movement.
It’s not very festive, but these are singular times, so I’m going to chip in for Media Matters’ “monitoring, analyzing, and correcting” misinformation in the US media.
This ain’t figgy pudding either, but I’m pretty determined to get more involved in solutions for gun violence. I am part of a small (but mighty) group of women starting a chapter of Moms Demand Action in my community. Join a chapter or give a few bucks to support these non-partisan voices for safe gun policy.
I support Seattle’s Mary’s Place, keeping homeless families going in emergencies and helping people get back on their feet. You can find special things to do that could brighten someone’s holiday in a big way. Ditto: Treehouse a non-profit serving kids in foster care. They post a holiday wishlist.
Finally, in the spirit of the season of giving, I invite Cascadians to chip in to my grad school colleague’s start-up card game about Coast Salish economics, Potlatch. It’s a game based on indigenous economic systems of sharing, gifting, and status. It uses both English and Lushootseed. Kickstarter here.