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Groups fighting sexual violence awarded #MeToo funding

Last Updated Oct 15, 2018 at 3:41 pm EST

FILE - In this Oct. 12, 2018 file photo, #MeToo founder Tarana Burke arrives at Variety's Power of Women event in Beverly Hills, Calif. Eight groups across the nation have been awarded funding from the New York Women's Foundation for their efforts to fight sexual violence. The groups in this first round of funding, chosen in consultation with Burke, are focused on underserved communities such as communities of color, immigrant communities and LGBTQ people. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Eight groups across the nation have been awarded funding from the New York Women’s Foundation for their efforts to fight sexual violence.

The groups, chosen in consultation with #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, are focused on marginalized and underserved communities, including immigrant communities and communities of colour as well as LGBTQ people, the foundation says.

The money — $840,000 — comes from the “Fund for the MeToo Movement and Allies,” set up by The New York Women’s Foundation earlier this year. The group provided an initial $1 million for a fund to support Burke and the movement she founded 12 years ago, along with other similar organizations, with a goal of raising $5 million a year.

The eight groups range from the DC Rape Crisis centre in Washington, to the Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective in Los Angeles, to the Firecracker Foundation in Lansing, Michigan, which works with teens and children who’ve survived sexual abuse.

It also includes “me too.,” as Burke’s Brooklyn-based group is called. The organization has been working on a new digital community to help survivors of sexual violence, as well as on-the-ground programming including healing circles, and what Burke calls “training the trainers” — preparing counsellors to go out into communities across the country.

Other groups in the first round of funding include Black Women’s Blueprint and the Violence Intervention Program, both in New York; Equality Labs, a national group; and the Los Angeles-based FreeFrom, which works with survivors of domestic violence.

“This is about supporting the people who support the people,” Burke said in an interview. She noted that the grants come as the broader #MeToo movement, launched by the explosive Harvey Weinstein allegations, marks its one-year anniversary.

“As we reach the anniversary, it’s really clear that so many people don’t understand the priorities of the movement, and the needs of both the people who have said ‘me too’ and the people who support them.”

“It’s important that we acknowledge that #MeToo going viral didn’t just cause a major shift in the entertainment industry and corporations,” Burke added. “It caused a shift on the ground of everyday people who are opening themselves up and find themselves in need of resources.”

Burke noted that many local groups have been inundated since #MeToo went viral, well beyond their capacity.

Ana Oliveira, president and CEO of the New York Women’s Foundation, called the range of groups “very much Tarana’s vision. She doesn’t work alone. No movement is a one-person band.”

She added that though the #MeToo erupted into the national consciousness a year ago, “We are very interested that it not be a fad, that it not be an ephemeral thing.”

Burke founded her group in 2006 to support survivors of sexual violence, particularly girls and women of colour. Its visibility skyrocketed after actress/activist Alyssa Milano, responding to the Weinstein revelations, tweeted a request for survivors of sexual assault or harassment to use #MeToo to illustrate the extent of the problem. Within days, 1.7 million people had used the hashtag.

Milano was being honoured by Burke on Monday evening at the New York Women’s Foundation’s gala.