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Challenging Injustice, Advancing Human Rights

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee advances human rights through grassroots collaborations.

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UUSC: How We Challenge Injustice and Advance Human Rights

May 4, 2016

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) is a human rights organization powered by grassroots collaboration. For over 75 years, our innovative approach and measurable contributions have been grounded in the moral belief that all people have inherent power, dignity, and rights.

We organize our work based on three fundamental human rights program areas:

  • environmental justice
  • economic justice
  • rights most at risk

We work where rights are threatened by natural disasters, armed conflicts, genocide, forced migration, and systematic injustice. We seek populations who have been excluded from conventional humanitarian responses, and we reach them by partnering with local organizations engaged in innovative, groundbreaking, transformational work.

How does UUSC differ from other grant-making organizations?

There are many ways that UUSC’s grant making differs from the way traditional grant making organizations do their work.

  • We select partner organizations committed to making real changes that address big challenges. Global change begins with small victories.
  • We are willing to cover critical operating expenses where many other funders will not.
  • We complement our financial support with training, networking efforts to create new coalitions, and activation of volunteers to enhance the work of our partner organizations.

We refer to the groups we support as “partners” rather than “grantees” because of the unique way we leverage our shared resources to accomplish social change.

Grassroots collaboration: the heart of all our programs

UUSC has collaborated with like-minded organizations all over the world for over 75 years, providing financial, organizational, and volunteer support for literally hundreds of organizations.

  • We activate networks of volunteers, citizen watchdog groups, and other community organizations to join with our partners in delivering services, or to participate in joint advocacy campaigns.
  • We provide expertise in organizational management and operations, including finance, public relations, strategic planning, and ground-breaking research.
  • UUSC will also share our contacts with NGOs and funding organizations  as part of our strategy for building our partner organizations’ success .
  • UUSC’s College of Social Justice lends hands-on support when volunteers are needed on the ground.

Defending the rights of refugees: A case study

UUSC partner Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) provides free and low-cost legal services to refugees and underserved immigrant children and families in central and south Texas.

UUSC funding has helped RAICES establish a residential and healing center in San Antonio for female survivors of torture, and has supported RAICES’ initiatives to advance the rights of unaccompanied children crossing the border. In addition to providing this essential funding, UUSC has assisted RAICES identify and reach out to a number of new sources of funding, and we have also assisted with training on ways to publicize and advance community support for their programs.

We’ve commissioned relevant research, leveraged our advocacy capacity, supported Spanish-speaking volunteers to work side-by-side with RAICES staff in the delivery of services, and mobilized people from San Antonio and surrounding communities to provide refugee mothers and children with backpacks filled with the basic supplies they’ll need for the long bus trips they face once they are finally released from the detention camps.

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