The Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism Organizing Collective is excited to announce the disbursement of disaster relief grants for victims of recent ecological disasters in the amount of $500 each. Originating from efforts by the National UUA Disaster Relief Fund, each grant recipient will receive $500. On October 5, the Rev. Dawn Cooley, a UUA Southern Region staff member, reached out to BLUU to invite us to apply for funding from monies raised to help people directly affected by ecological disasters in recent months, including Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. After consulting with the BLUU community to see if this was a need, we applied for $5,000 in funding and were approved.
The BLUU OC reached out to three individuals who are a part of our BLUU spiritual family and community, Lisa Rockett, Cet Mohamed Moore and Rocky Rockett, to help coordinate outreach and disbursement, work for which we are compensating them as paid consultants. Lisa, Cet, and Rocky had already been working on disaster relief efforts in their communities, so we knew they were equipped to manage this vital work. With their outreach coordination, we have received 72 applications. As of Tuesday, Dec. 5, 10 people have been awarded grants of $500, with five more pending approval on Thursday, Dec. 7 from the UUA Southern Region. You can read more about these disaster relief efforts from the UUA here on their website. We will be submitting another application for the remaining 57 people. We have also decided to extend the deadline for applying for a grant to Tuesday, Dec. 19.
At the core of our work as the BLUU Organizing Collective is a commitment to living more deeply into our faith values, in expressions particular to the prism of the Black experience. Part of this commitment means being a bridge between our denomination, with its tremendous wealth of resources (spiritual, financial and otherwise) and a community of Black UUs, as well as a diversity of Black communities where many of us (as Black UU and UU-adjacent folks) are connected, come from and live. We believe that systems in place in many organizations create barriers to getting people - particularly Black people - the help they need when they need it, including placing qualifiers on accessing funds or time intensive and intrusive report-backs. We strive as much as possible to create opportunities to be in service and decrease these barriers.
Living more deeply into our faith also means finding ways to assist people financially who don’t have access to traditional banking methods. For instance, some people who may receive these grants cannot cash a check, so we have to come up with alternative ways of assisting them. We have to streamline and be creative in our outreach and do away with time intensive and intrusive reportbacks. We strive to live out our commitment to serve our Black UU and broader Black communities, so we may thrive instead of merely survive.
We know and believe that innovation and experimentation must be built into our work, and we are grateful that our outreach coordinators, Cet, Lisa, and Rocky have joined us in it. This is our first endeavor in working with the Unitarian Universalist Association in this way and utilizing outreach coordinators to carry out this kind of work. We are grateful for the opportunity to learn and build together in community. It’s important work that can be a beacon, however small, in a world that seems to be giving us fewer and fewer reasons to hope.
We will be applying for more funding to disburse from the Unitarian Universalist Association for the remaining individuals who have already submitted the application form and for any individuals who complete our application form by Tuesday, Dec. 19.
Please see our FAQ form here for more questions.