The nonprofit awards First-Ever Social Innovation Grant of $110,000 to The Innocence Initiative
AUSTIN, TEXAS – Nov. 7, 2019 – Last night at Impact Austin’s annual Town Hall Meeting, the 510 women of Impact Austin, the collective giving organization on a mission to transform the community through women’s philanthropy, awarded their first-ever Social Innovation Grant (SIG) of $110,000 to The Innocence Initiative. The Innocence Initiative is a collaborative effort between five organizations –– MEASURE Austin, Girl Scouts of Central Texas, Hearts 2 Heal, Lone Star Justice Alliance, and Community Advocacy and Healing Project –– to address the adultification of Black girls in Central Texas.
This high-impact grant, which brings Impact Austin’s total grantmaking to nearly $7 million, was open to collaboratives of two or more organizations working towards advancing equity for women and girls of color in Central Texas. The two finalists were narrowed down from 18 entrants by the SIG Committee, comprised of 21 Impact Austin members through a rigorous process that included intensive research and applicant pitch presentations. All members and their guests had the opportunity to hear from the two finalists at last night’s event before casting their vote.
The Innocence Initiative describes adultification as a social or cultural stereotype that is based on how adults perceive children in the absence of knowledge of children’s behavior and verbalization. With adultification, racial stereotypes become more important than the fact that they are children, depriving them of the safety and security they would be granted otherwise.
The Innocence Initiative will use the funds from the Social Innovation Grant to take six courses of action to address the adultification of Black girls:
A community empowerment and Girl Scouts recruitment event focusing on Girls of Color
The development of an online tool to connect parents and guardians to lawyers when faced with potential criminalizing outcomes
Training 50 defense attorneys in Central Texas
Pushing for a public health approach to potentially criminalizing behavior in schools
Launching a public education campaign
Issuing a report with the support of Georgetown University on the impact of the adultification of Black girls in Central Texas
“Black girls receive disproportionate rates of punitive treatment in the education and juvenile justice systems,” said Meme Styles, MEASURE Austin President and Founder. “The Innocence Initiative will elevate the data, listen to the real-life stories of Black girls, and address disparities that perpetuate adultification through advocacy, training, and a public awareness campaign.”
“The Social Innovation Grant is especially meaningful in that it’s the first time that we are focusing our collective giving on a collaborative effort, rather than to a single nonprofit organization,” said Christina Canales Gorczynski, Executive Director of Impact Austin. “Impact Austin is focused on diversity and inclusion of its own membership as well; it’s humbling to lead a group of women who share a love for this community, a passion for giving back, and a commitment to doing better,” Gorczynski said.
“We are so grateful to the thought leaders in our community that helped us identify potential collaboratives to solicit for applications,” said Michelle Rankin, Leadership Austin Fellow and co-chair for the Social Innovation Grant Committee.
Impact Austin welcomes new members year-round, and identifying as female is the only requirement. Members contribute $1,250 annually to fund grants to nonprofits as well as the organization’s operations. In addition to the SIG, Impact Austin awards one Catalyst Grant and three other Program Grants focused on community, education, and health and well-being. From social events to reviewing grant applications to just making an annual contribution -- there are many opportunities to get involved. Join Impact Austin today at https://www.impactaustin.org.
About The Innocence Initiative Organizations
MEASURE Austin is an advocacy organization that uses data and education to empower communities to eliminate social disparities.
Girl Scouts of Central Texas provides an engaged community for girls to spend quality time with peers and female role models in a safe space where they can try new things, develop skills, take on leadership roles, and just be themselves.
Hearts 2 Heal is a diverse community of people with mental health and/or bereavement experiences working to promote innovative peer-based wellness strategies. They create community-based mental health programs that honor diverse experiences and eliminate stigma and discrimination.
Lone Star Justice Alliance redirects youth and emerging adults out of the Texas justice system and into community-based treatment programs to improve outcomes and reduce incarceration rates.
Community Advocacy and Healing Project cultivates human-centered and culturally mindful advocacy and healing experiences to aid in building community.
About Impact Austin
Impact Austin’s mission is to cultivate the collective wisdom and strength of women to transform ourselves and our communities through philanthropy. Impact Austin has now granted nearly $7 million to nonprofit organizations and collaboratives in Central Texas. Impact Austin’s youth initiative, Girls Giving Grants (g3), creates learning and leadership opportunities for Central Texas girls in grades 8-12. Participants, each of whom contributes $100 towards a Central Texas nonprofit working to improve the lives of children, has awarded more than $80,000 since 2006. Learn more at www.impactaustin.org.
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Jodi Bart Holzband
Classic Bart PR + Communications