Peace Development Fund awards $10K to three recipients

By BELLA LEVAVI

Staff Writer

Published: 06-21-2023 4:53 PM

Three organizations serving the Franklin County community have been awarded a total of $10,000 from the Peace Development Fund.

The three recipients, each receiving $3,333, are: Decarcerate Western Mass Bailout Project, which helps people pay bail at jails in Hampshire, Franklin and Hampden counties; the Greenfield-based Nolumbeka Project, an Indigenous historical and cultural preservation organization; and the Greenfield-based Trans Asylum Support Network (TASSN), a network formed in 2019 that supports queer and transgender asylum seekers in the U.S.

“TASSN is a collective helping to get trans asylum seekers out of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) detention and help build thriving lives,” Rebecca Abrams, of TASSN, said in a statement. “Thanks to the grant from PDF, our work will become that much more sustainable and it will allow our project to continue into the future.”

The Peace Development Fund administered these grants through the Pioneer Valley Community Advised Fund, and the organizations were chosen through a participatory grant process.

The Amherst-based Peace Development Fund is a public foundation created in 1981. It works to build the capacity of community-based organizations through grants, training and other resources as partners in human rights and social justice movements.

The Nolumbeka Project plans to put its portion of funding toward organizing its annual Pocumtuck Homelands Festival. The 10th annual event is set for the weekend of Aug. 5 and 6.

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“The Nolumbeka Project is honored and happy to receive this grant from the Peace Development Fund,” Nolumbeka Project Treasurer and Events Coordinator Diane Dix wrote in a statement. “For a very long time, we were only taught one side of the region’s history: the colonial version. The [Pocumtuck Homelands Festival] offers a welcoming place for the public to learn Indigenous history from tribal members telling their own stories in their own words.”

As for the Bailout Project, organizers plan to use their money to host community-building and political education events; invest in the organization’s accounting infrastructure; and develop a court reminder system so people don’t end up with bench warrants if they miss a court date.

“We are an entirely volunteer-run community bail fund that relies on donations to operate,” media inquiries volunteer Danielle Squillante wrote in an email. “Grants like this allow us to cover operational expenses and dedicate all of our individual donations to the cost of bail so community members don’t have to remain in jail pretrial.”

The Bailout Project used a previous grant from the Peace Development Fund to overhaul its website and make “reentry kits” containing items like hygienic supplies, gift cards and seasonal items.

“We are grateful to organizations like PDF,” Squillante wrote, “who make it possible for us to continue our work by providing the funding we need to cover our operational expenses.”

Bella Levavi can be reached at 413-390-4579 or blevavi@recorder.com.]]>