Movements, organizers, and marginalized individuals are disproportionately impacted by financial and legal systems that fail to provide access. Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation regularly receives calls for emergency assistance. In 2019, after a young organizer in need of immediate legal help for her immigration case reached out, leaders began asking if it would be possible to respond to the crisis of poverty and systemic racism more intentionally. Very little unencumbered money exists for such cases as this young organizer or for the teacher who needs gas money, or the elder facing eviction.
We create low barrier, easy access grant applications to meet these immediate needs. Through our partnerships with local organizers, we can ensure money reaches the local community. In 2020, we donated $25,000 to direct relief to undocumented immigrants and their families. We followed this with $31,300 distributed through our partnerships with Wind of the Spirit, First Friends of NJ and NY, Black Lives Matter-Patterson, New Afrikan Black Panther Party, Unidad Latina en Acción, Montclair Sanctuary Alliance and Beacon UU Congregation. In the following year, we created a partnership with RIP medical debt forgive over $2M in medical debt across the state of New Jersey.
The Center envisions a world where equity is the norm and communities can have immediate, direct needs met. In the case above, monies were able to be found from a pilot program. This meant adequate legal representation and the stay of a final deportation order. This organizer continues to work in her community. Countless years and lives can be altered by relatively small interventions and monetary transfers.
The vision for the Beacon Center is an organization dedicated to the establishment of equity and the seeding of hope. In order to build an equitable world the Center’s primary goal is to dismantle racism, understood as prejudice plus power. To this end, our collective focus at the Center is the decolonization of wealth.
The Center will address the oppression of marginalized communities and the impacts of poverty and racism. It will be positioned to dismantle the “Color of Wealth,” which has interrupted those on the margins’ ability to access societal resources including education and employment while limiting their ability to accrue and bequeath wealth over generations.
Grounded in relational justice, the Center will embody and uphold fair and sustainable practices in its work. It will expect that individuals in positions of responsibility at the Center are actively engaged in dismantling racism in all its forms. It will use an intersectional analysis, taking the lead from those at the margins. It is inspired by Unitarian Universalist principles including the work to affirm and promote justice, equity and compassion in human relations.