2021 FREDERICK DOUGLASS AWARD HONOREES
Over a year of unprecedented crisis, North Star Fund grantees have organized for justice while also meeting the urgent and immediate needs of our communities. We are pleased to present the 2021 Frederick Douglass Awards to three grantees for their hard work.
Rise Up Kingston
Rise Up Kingston, a Black-led powerhouse of Ulster County, has provided a lifeline of community and direct assistance during the pandemic. They delivered meals to homebound New Yorkers and, at the onset of the pandemic, were part of the creation of the Kingston Emergency Food Collaborative and the Kingston Mutual Aid Network. These projects connected hundreds of people to share resources and develop mutual aid projects.
They also were strengthening their organizing campaigns, with a local win on their police accountability campaign to establish new guidelines for the police commission, including for the removal of police officers, training for commissioners and a new complaint process.
Their ongoing work to engage Kingston residents in dialogue about how they could reinvest local policing funds in human needs is continuing to grow. This is alongside their economic justice campaign to reduce utility rate hikes and utility shutoffs.
Rise Up Kingston is centering local leadership through their ongoing campaigns as well as their new Black Liberation Freedom Fellowship in partnership with the Newburgh LGBTQ+ Center.
We’re recognizing Rise Up Kingston for their growth in just a few short years into a visionary force for justice in the Hudson Valley.
Worker's Justice Project
Worker’s Justice Project (WJP), a worker center based in New York City, has long had the mission to bring low-wage workers impacted by racism and economic exploitation together to improve their working conditions and ensure that they get paid. They organize domestic workers, restaurant and delivery workers as well as construction day laborers.
In the time of COVID, these workers were quickly identified as “essential workers,” even as the local government did not act to improve their working conditions. Food delivery workers, day laborers and domestic workers became infected with COVID-19 without improved access to health care, paid sick leave or unemployment insurance.
WJP has maintained their fierce organizing for worker protection, including the call for a statewide Excluded Workers Fund to support workers unable to access stimulus payments.
Their support for tens of thousands of delivery workers, the Deliveristas, has led local officials to respond to their calls to prioritize vaccines for these essential workers.
And WJP has stepped in with a COVID-19 fund to provide direct assistance to workers who suddenly had no income, as well as helping individuals set up their own online fundraising pages.
We’re recognizing WJP for pivoting between keeping their members safe, fed and housed while still demanding local government offer them the protection of the law.
New York State Youth Leadership Council
For over a decade, the New York State Youth Leadership Council (NYSYLC) has worked to empower immigrant youth through leadership development and grassroots organizing.
Under the leadership of young women and queer youth, the NYSYLC was central to the passage of the NY State Dream Act in the 2019 legislature, and their leadership pipeline is engaging hundreds of youth who are affected by government inaction on immigration on the federal level. They provide vital assistance to youth navigating the labyrinth immigration system, which offers opportunities as well as pitfalls to young immigrants.
The COVID crisis hit the immigrant community hard, and NYSYLC expanded to suddenly include direct assistance and mutual aid organizing for hundreds of families in New York City. In many cases these families faced all the burdens of essential workers, but received little to no government support because of discrimination based on their immigration status.
NYSYLC moved funds, scholarships and care while maintaining their grassroots campaigns and responding to the ongoing battles related to DACA (including June’s Supreme Court ruling restoring DACA) by providing reliable information, access to legal advice, and making space for youth to process their anxieties and frustrations. Through all of these challenges, the NYSYLC remained committed to making New York City a place where all youth are supported to thrive regardless of their immigration status.
We're recognizing NYSYLC for supporting our immigrant community with love and care even through the unprecedented challenges of 2020.