Laundry Workers Center members at March for Manuel Antonio Liberato

Grantee: Laundry Worker Center

The North Star Fund Movement Leadership Program (MLP) builds the power of New York-based community organizing through a two-year investment in individual leaders and organizations.

MLP participants receive $50,000 grants over two years as they participate in peer-learning, individual coaching and support in the design and implementation of mass-mobilization campaigns.

At the heart of the program’s success is our cohort model—a community of peers who become partners and more powerful agents of social justice. Recent MLP alumni have been involved in the fights for restorative justice in NYC schools, safer workplaces and language equity for New Yorkers.

Our 2017-2018 MLP cohort is comprised of movement leaders who are at the forefront of NYC-based organizing shaping the agenda for broader national struggles: organizations led by and building power by and for immigrants, queer youth and low-wage workers.

Families for Freedom ($50,000)

The national landscape on immigration is plagued by a focus on separating immigrants into “good” and “bad” immigrants based on any previous criminal convictions. This simplistic narrative allows for public approval of harsh treatment for some immigrants, and lowers the bar for how we treat all immigrants.

Families for Freedom is a unique organizing support center that educates and builds the leadership of immigrants facing deportation and detention because of previous criminal convictions. Since 2002 they have been building a critical mass of immigration justice leaders drawn into the detention and deportation system because of racialized policing.

With a Movement Leadership Program grant, Families for Freedom will formalize their leadership development structure to build the skills that their member-leaders will utilize in the current fight for immigration justice.

FIERCE ($50,000)

For some LGBTQ youth, home is not a safe space because of family members who reject them based on their sexual or gender identity. Once homeless, these youth are targeted by adults, including the police, and face homophobic barriers to accessing public services.

For over a decade, FIERCE has been creating queer-youth friendly spaces and training these young New Yorkers to push for access to public space and public services. FIERCE’s staff and member leaders have been active participants in the historic victory on “stop & frisk” as part of Communities United for Police Reform. They have fought for access to services and housing from the city and won.

Through the Movement Leadership Program, FIERCE will be building a strong citywide solidarity platform for economic justice that includes the leadership of homeless and formerly homeless LGTBQ youth.

La Colmena ($50,000)

Founded in 2014 by worker leaders, day laborers, domestic workers, and alliances, La Colmena is the go-to workers center in Staten Island. Through La Colmena, day laborers and other immigrant workers can organize, receive trainings and employment related services and get help around wage theft and occupational health.

Its deep partnerships with powerful community organizations have allowed La Colmena to achieve notable advocacy successes including City Council’s historic $500K investment into workers centers citywide in 2015, as well as their latest approval of close to $1.5 million for the Day Laborer Workforce Initiative for the 2018 fiscal year.

Through the Movement Leadership Program, La Colmena will refine their pipeline for worker leaders, building skills and experience in amplifying the collective voice of the immigrant workforce.

Laundry Workers Center ($50,000)

In their first six years Laundry Workers Center recovered over $2 million in back wages for low-wage and immigrant workers in bakeries, restaurants and warehouses across New York City. They have yet to lose a campaign, in part due to their leadership institute designed for their members. Members participate in their campaigns and training, then go on to lead campaigns and the organization.

Their latest victory—by B&H Photo warehouse workers—has resulted in recognition of the right of workers to join a union, specific safety improvements and a public settlement of over $3 million.

With a Movement Leadership Program grant, Laundry Workers Center is focused on updating their member development model to include an advanced training series for members to activate their communities, recruit volunteers, build coalitions, and create alliances to address issues of injustice.

We made these grants along with our Fall 2017/Winter 2018 Catalyst grants and our Fall 2017/Winter 2018 Grassroots Action grants.