JUSTICE & CIVIC ENGAGEMENT
ClassACT focuses its work and service in three areas: Justice and Civic Engagement, Education, and Health, and we are developing a fourth program area focused on the Environment.
Our projects (Class Acts and Sustained Collaborations), Bridges, and Forums in the Justice and Civic Engagement area appear below. Please click on those that interest you.
If you would like to work with us on any of these endeavors, or you have questions about them, we invite you to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we respond promptly.
BENAZIR BHUTTO LEADERSHIP PROGRAM
Consistent with our mission to support positive change, ClassACT has developed the Benazir Bhutto Leadership Program (BBLP) in honor of our classmate, the first female Prime Minister of Pakistan. The fellowships support scholars enrolled in the Edward S. Mason Program (MC/MPA) of the Kennedy School of Government.
JUSTICE & CIVIC ENGAGEMENT INITIATIVE
This is a group of classmates who have focused on a multi-pronged approach including projects and support of JusticeAid and JusticeAid’s 2020 beneficiary, Election Protection, as well as a long term project dedicated to creating a state by state primer on gerrymandering.
Under the umbrella of a new name: The Justice & Civic Engagement Initiative, and with the 2020 Presidential election completed, the Steering Committee will focus on gerrymandering and supporting JusticeAid and the PACE Program of the Neighborhood Defender Service.
GERRYMANDERING: OUR DEMOCRACY AT RISKGerrymandering is one of the gravest, most insidious threats to our democracy, and the potential for abuse is soaring. When politicians draw voting maps to favor their party’s candidates over their opponents, that undermines the power of elections in our system of government…and citizens’ faith in our republic. A legislature should be a mirror image of its voters, so lawmakers reflect their constituents’ views, but gerrymandering prevents that. ClassACT HR73 presents its primer on gerrymandering: "Gerrymandering: Our Democracy at Risk.” Written by James P. Harbison and J. Ryan O’Connell with editing by Sallie Gouverneur, the primer is a product of ClassACT HR73’s Justice & Civic Engagement Initiative. Through this initiative, ClassACT has already hosted forums addressing issues such as voter suppression, racism and social justice, and racism in the criminal justice system.
JusticeAid formed in 2013 around a simple but profound idea: to organize music and arts events to increase access to opportunity and justice for every person, regardless of their background or circumstance. We partner with outstanding artists and world-changing charities to fight for those most in need, and to ensure that liberty and justice are indeed inalienable rights for every human being.
LGBTQ YOUTH RIGHTS: PROTECTING THE QUEER FRONTIERFor young people who identify as LGBTQ, these are perilous times. Adolescence and young adulthood for them often mean conflicts with family, classmates, and community members who cannot accept who they are. The results of this intolerance can be depression and anxiety, homelessness, and even suicide. Now, along with these stresses, young trans and queer people are confronting a global pandemic and renewed assaults on their rights in states like Texas,Florida and Ohio. In this #ClassACTForum, we examined the challenges LGBTQ youth face and the ways that advocates, friends and families can offer support.
CLASSACT HR73 PRESENTS: A CONVERSATION ON RUSSIA'S WAR ON UKRAINEWe hosted an in depth conversation about the Russian war against Ukraine. Noted historian and former Washington Bureau Chief for Newsweek Evan Thomas '73 led a discussion with Nobel Prize winning economist Roger Myerson '73 and international security expert and retired Marine Colonel Mark Cancian '73. Drawing on their knowledge of Ukraine’s past tragedies and its immediate crisis, these panelists analyzed the current state of the war from military, political and economic perspectives.
CAN 21ST CENTURY CAPITALISM SOLVE SCHOOL FAILURE, CLIMATE CHANGE, AND INCOME INEQUALITY?Moderator Leigh Hafrey ’73, Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and former co-Master of Mather House, led a stirring discussion about imaginative ways that impact investing and partnerships between public and private investors can help remedy poverty, failing schools and the climate crisis. The distinguished panel included Roger W. Ferguson, Jr. ’73, the former Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the former President and CEO of TIAA; Natasha Lamb, Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Arjuna Capital; and Tracy Palandjian, CEO and Co-Founder of Social Finance and former Vice-Chair of the Harvard Board of Overseers.
GERRYMANDERING: OUR DEMOCRACY AT RISKOur expert panelists discussed how gerrymandering threatens an already imperiled democracy. Under its sway, the congressional and state legislature districts carved out in secret by hyper partisan map makers end up distorting voter representation and concerns. The result in states like North Carolina and Maryland is that one party maintains a disproportionate hold on offices and policy agendas. Voters in both parties agree that the time has come for reforms to make the process of redistricting fairer. With the recent release of the 2020 census data and the possibility of passing new voting rights legislation, we have a chance to undo the excesses of gerrymandering that have fed political frustration and extremism.
VOTER SUPPRESSION AND THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON VOTING RIGHTS
The right to vote is a fundamental Constitutional right and a guiding principle of American democracy. Yet this right is increasingly being put to the test this election year, challenged by voter suppression, uncertain access to the polls, accessibility of ballots, vote by mail restrictions, COVID-19 and other issues.
For its second ClassACT Zoom Forum, ClassACT HR73 and its Voter & Civic Engagement initiative assembled a terrific line up of guests to discuss these challenges.Learn more.
CALL TO CLASSACTION: TURN OUT THE VOTEClassACT, as a part of its Voter & Civic Engagement Initiative, enlisted a team from Open Progress/Vote.org (a non-partisan effort devoted to getting out the vote) to train us, the "ClassACT Text Troop," to utilize “text banking” to reach out to people of color and to young voters in general, to provide them with the information they need to register, vote by mail, or vote in person.
RACISM AND CRIMINAL SYSTEM: COMMUNITIES FIGHT FOR JUSTICE
During the pandemic, everyone connected to sporting events was affected economically and personally, from the “front office” managers, to the players and team staff, and perhaps most troubling, to the vendors and many other essential workers who supported events. Can sports provide some sense of community and solace in these times? Will sports return to a pre-pandemic "normal?" Along with our moderator, our panelists examined these impacts and questions for youth sports, collegiate sports, and minor and major league baseball.Learn more.
WHOSE INDEPENDENCE DAY IS IT? SOCIAL JUSTICE AND RACISM IN AMERICA
Nearly sixty years after the March on Washington, African Americans are still struggling for economic equality and equal protection under the law. A distinguished panel including Rep. Karen Bass, current Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus; award-winning broadcast journalist and author Soledad O'Brien; JusticeAid founder Stephen Milliken '73; and veteran Black journalist Sylvester Monroe '73 discussed how the nation can reform its police departments and whether what's broken with race and social justice in America can ever be fixed.Learn more.
SCHOOLS + COVID = INEQUITY AMPLIFIED
COVID-19 led to school closings across the country in March. Here we are, months later, with more chaos and uncertainty, and a variety of modes of learning from which parents and students must choose: all remote, all in-person and hybrid. Which parents are choosing to keep their children home? Who is sending their children back? What do family income and race have to do with the decisions? Can the gap between the privileged and the disadvantaged get any greater? What can we do to make positive impact as a nation? As individuals?Learn more.
FASCISM: ARE WE THERE YET?
Hitler. Mussolini. Hirohito. Totalitarian dictators whose names and ideologies are trapped in the pages of 20th century history lessons – or are they? Is it possible their ideas and policies are taking root in America right now, at a frighteningly rapid pace?
Authoritarianism, illiberalism, nationalism, fascism: these words appear with alarming frequency in editorials, analyses, and popular articles in 2020. What are the shades of meaning among them? How do they play out in the politics of our time? What can we learn from recent history to help us understand and combat a darker future than many would wish to see? Listen to our panelists discuss this in a wide-ranging and provocative conversation.
WHEN THE STAGE GOES DARK: PERFORMING ARTS IN COVID TIME
It feels like an eternity since any of us has walked into a theater or club and seen a live performance. We miss being part of the moments when that magic comes to life. Our performing artists in theater, dance and music miss the hours of creativity that lead to those moments when the lights go on. They have been deprived of their communities and their livelihoods. Our performing arts organizations are in peril. Their civic-minded boards are seeking ways to keep their artistic companies afloat, while embracing the critical role the arts have in advancing racial justice and parity in our society. Through all of this, the spark of creativity is kindling innovations, support and hope.Learn more.
HEALTH DISPARITIES: LESSONS FROM COVID-19
This forum focused on lessons COVID-19 taught us about health disparities in America. Our distinguished panel was composed of three leading experts in medicine, healthcare delivery and government policy.
HEALTH DISPARITIES AND THE COVID-19 VACCINE
ClassACT examineD the impacts of the virus on racial and ethnic groups and among under-served populations across the globe and within the United States. Now, with the remarkable development of multiple vaccines to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, we turned to the topic of vaccine development and distribution to explore how we may address the worldwide health disparities that the pandemic has dramatically exacerbated.
The Corner Institute got its start in 1998 as an educational resource center for campesino children. In 2004 a series of requests for crisis assistance from families of migrants to the U.S. alerted us to an emerging problem for the most vulnerable families in an area relatively new to migration. The Corner Institute responded by initiating programs using the new communications technologies to help families stay in touch with migrant relatives in the U.S. and deal with problems before they turn into family-fragmenting crises.
OLE & NU FELLAS SOCIAL AID & PLEASURE CLUB
The Club is a dynamic and very localized community support engine powered by Sue Press, the president, whose activities include, volunteering as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for Neglected and Abused Children, mentoring sessions to encourage children regarding peer pressure, family matters, social etiquette, and proper behavior and sponsoring a community activities
THE ROOTS OF MUSIC
The Roots of Music provides free year-round music education, academic tutoring, and mentorship for youths ages 9-14 in Greater New Orleans. Founded shortly after Hurricane Katrina to address the challenges facing the city’s youth and the cessation of music education in most of New Orleans’ public middle schools, the program offers children an escape and alternative to the dangerous after-school street life of New Orleans.
SPORTS ANALYTICS CLUB PROGRAM
Robert Clayton ’73 developed the concept of a Sports Analytics Club Program (SACP) to expand STEM education opportunities to under-served high and middle school students. He had successfully implemented a pilot high school Sports Analytics Club in Baltimore, MD, and needed help developing and expanding the concept. ClassACT has helped to bring together over thirty classmates to assist in the development of SACP. Classmates have helped to facilitate business planning, organization as a not-for-profit, development of a governance structure and financial strategies, and identification of program expansion models to help as SACP has expanded to a multi-city program. The SACP board includes three HR73 classmates.
UNDERSTANDING OUR DIFFERENCES
Understanding Our Differences (UOD) is a nationally recognized non-profit organization whose mission is to educate communities to value and respect people of all abilities, through school-based interactive disability-awareness programs. The goal is to foster a society that includes people with disabilities – who, at 20 percent of the US population, make up the largest minority group in the country. Since 1978, Understanding our Differences volunteers have regularly been presenting its programs to students in grades 3-5 in our home district of Newton, MA, and in other Massachusetts communities. The lessons increase students’ understanding of a range of disabilities and chronic medical conditions, with visual presentations, hands-on activities, and speakers with disabilities discussing their experiences and answering questions. Accurate information about disabilities makes the difference between discrimination and acceptance, and Understanding Our Differences teaches children – at a young age when they are open and receptive – to be allies, not bullies.
UNITED NATIONS ASSOCIATION OF GREATER BOSTON
The United Nations Association of Greater Boston is ClassACT's newest Bridge. Sponsored by classmate Rich Golob, who most recently served as the chair of the UNAGB board of directors, the organization promotes global awareness in the Greater Boston area. Rich and their Executive Director, Caitlin Moore, have asked ClassACT to help them find topical experts to serve as speakers for their adult and student programs. We have already provided a connection to Benazir Bhutto Leadership Program Associate and international water expert, Erum Sattar.
UNAGB is developing a water curriculum so they are delighted that Erum has agreed to be the keynote speaker at their annual meeting. Classmates interested in UNAGB should reach out to Rich Golob or Caitlin Moore.In addition to finding experts for their program they are interested more generally in volunteers supporters.
WHITE PONY EXPRESS
To help eliminate hunger and poverty in Contra Costa County by delivering the abundance all around us to those in need. “Many friends in Contra Costa County can’t afford to feed or clothe themselves properly. And nonprofit organizations and shelters here often don’t have enough resources to serve them. But we’ve found that many businesses would be pleased to donate their excess food and goods if someone could just pick it up and deliver it. That’s why we created the White Pony Express. We are the connecting link between those with surplus and those in need.” – Founder, Dr. Carol Weyland Connor