Be The Foundation

The Problem

Efforts for human rights and equality worldwide are exhausting endeavors that face threats, hate speech, hostile or defensive attitudes toward activists, and resistance in many communities. Activists in local, community-based human rights organizations in numerous countries struggle to sustain their work and their hope against a lack of support, finances, and resources. Often, government and businesses do not value their initiatives or actively work against them, which impacts activists' ability to implement human rights efforts, fund programming, and sustain activities. The paucity of resources also comprises a lack of staff, access to media, platforms for vocalization, influential networks, or products needed to market and promote their causes. These activists who strive to better the world for others can find themselves depending on variable international donors to support their organizations. However, it has been widely observed by groups that work for the sustainability of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that international funding sources are not sustainable and withdraw support based on global trends and events. Many donors also place restrictions and conditions on grants, forcing organizations to carry out projects that may not be in the best interest of their communities on the ground. Even in countries where “equality” exists in legislation, human rights efforts in its implementation are severely hindered due to these barriers.

Plan of Action

The foundation works to build a global network of human rights activists who can virtually connect and identify areas of need in the realm of human rights and propose solutions to pressing issues. Through the foundation’s partnerships, activists act as a virtual think tank, generating conversation and connection that drives more informed and effective human rights initiatives worldwide. The foundation also seeks to establish a financial assistance program that enables organizations to implement crucial local human rights campaigns that would otherwise not be feasible. The initial framework of the foundation is the interactive forum for human rights activists to connect (www.bethefoundation.org). This virtual story-sharing website and digital map enables activists to contribute their own perspectives of struggles they are facing in their countries and discover other people working for similar causes. The forum already has 30 contributors from 39 qualitative interviews conducted in 2010 with over 40 activists in Turkey, Iceland, France, and the Netherlands. Considering access to the virtual forum and the Internet as a need in itself, the initial forum also highly relies on connected activists to mobilize, reach out, and empower local initiatives that do not have access to the forum in order to collect and share those stories. In this way, more people working for human rights in different countries will be empowered to share visions, strategies, and struggles, and gain exposure. As such, the foundation aims to minimize the isolation of community-based human rights efforts in countries around the world and strive for sustainability of local efforts for equality. The five-stage plan for the project begins with the promotion of the website and forum. The second stage of the project aims to secure a following in international human rights community and a diverse base of contributors to the forum. During this stage, the project should reach a minimum of five organizations in each country and maximize social media outreach to reach a broader audience. Facilitators will extend invitations to participate in project to a minimum of 15 organizations per country, where applicable. Individuals and organizations will also be engaged in partnerships to promote the project. Stage three aims to encourage interaction between human rights activists by establishing over 100 contributors from around the world in the first year of the forum’s existence. Connections between organizations will be actively identified through the reading of submissions. Moderators of the forum will actively connect and engage different contributors. In this way, the forum is also a participant in building networks. The long-term objective of this stage is to identify areas of greatest need in the international human rights community based on exchange between activists. Then, the project will communicate those needs to donors in order to secure financial backing for a grant-giving program. The grant program will work to increase the sustainability of human rights initiatives in a variety of settings. As such, in the fourth stage, the network of contributors and allies to the forum will be the basis of the development of the grant program. The fourth stage is about activating and empowering the existing virtual network of advocates by engaging high-powered donors, including corporations, businesses, and influential individuals, in a sustainable way to support a selection of these human rights organizations. Through the forum, those donors will also be able to see the stories and struggles of different organizations and how financial support is put to work. The goal of the grant-giving program is to support a minimum of five organizations in the first year the program is in effect. The long-term plan is to establish a reliable source of international funding for local and community-based human rights initiatives and enhance funded agencies’ capacity and potential for impact in their communities. Be The Foundation will also share stories through video and creative promotions of the impact those organizations have within their community. Ultimately, the objective is to implement measureable change in countries where organizations receiving assistance are working. Stage five, the final stage, is one of lasting impact. It is the attainment of all the project’s long-term goals such that activists are connected in a meaningful way and human rights organizations that would otherwise fail are tangibly supported. Throughout these stages, the promotional tactics include personal stories from organizations that fight against human rights violations, images and sound bites to accompany written testimonies from activists and clients, a creative combination of visual, auditory, and literary contributions to appeal to broad audience, and solicitation of diverse submissions from human rights organizations. Many activists have already had immeasurable impact in their lifetimes through the number of people they have helped and reached through their work; supporting them in their endeavors is the goal of the foundation and wherein its own potential for real implications in real lives lies.

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