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Dear Friends and donors to SJW, Supporters, and CRLS Alum:
Social Justice Works: The Aaronson Fund is devoting this year’s (’08-’09) organizing efforts on visibility and networking. We will devote this year to reaching out to you to help us promote our cause and build our SJW network. We will update and upgrade our webpage to help us build a network that will identify and locate CRLS alumni doing social justice works and link them with one another. Eventually we envision an interactive webpage that will become a resource to the countless alumni doing community organizing both nationally and internationally. We know that CRLS SJW workers are everywhere doing amazing tasks, achieving remarkable successes against impossible odds and operating under perilous conditions.
CRLS/SJW workers will be able to go to our webpage and utilize this as a major resource for their own organizing efforts. They will discover other alumni doing similar or related work and learn that not only are they not alone, but that there are thousands of other highly motivated CRLS alumni struggling and achieving amazing results.
Utilizing our webpage and JW network, they will become informed about these countless other CRLS alumni initiatives operating in the public sector that they can draw upon for helpful knowledge, technical support and innovative ideas. Hopefully they will be able to use our webpage to develop new links to funding sources and technical support services. Above all this network will help us carry our SJW message to major foundations that will provide SJW with funding and use our assets to distribute financial support throughout our network. Together we will all become more visible, better recognized and more greatly supported. Linked and united CRLS/SJW workers can become a mighty mighty force for social justice. Social Justice Works. Yes we can!
To date we have raised more than $90,000 for our organizing efforts. We have a mailing list of over 900. We have organized two fundraising events, one in September of ’07 to launch our foundation, and another in September of ’08, SJW’s First Awards Dinner in which we presented two social works projects grants of $5000 each. Fanshen Cox (CRLS ’89) received $5000 to promote her Los Angeles based “Mixed Roots Film Festival,” and Emilio Flores and Justin Lynch’s (CRLS, ’99 and ’00) received their $5000 grant for their peer leadership program operating at the Castle Square Housing Development in Boston, MA’s South End district.
This year SJW is shifting priorities away from direct fundraising efforts and towards promoting our visibility and building our SJW network that will connect countless CRLS graduates working on social justice projects of various kinds in the public sector. We have set up our webpage, and now created a new blog, that will link to our webpage. Through Larry’s Facebook account we are also connected to over 1000 “friends” that we are weaving into our network.
Now we need you to help us build this SJW network. We need you to help us connect our organizing resources with these thousands of CRLS alumni and their countless social justice projects. What we are asking is that you send us your organization’s information: websites; You Tube channels; Facebook groups; Twitter accounts. We would like you to also send us your mission statements, and in addition whatever ideas, innovative ideas and initiatives, and/or connections you have that you think might be pertinent to Social Justice Works. We will merge and embed all of this information into our SJW webpage
-Larry Aaronson, (executive director, Social Justice Works: The Aaronson Fund

Hotel Marlowe, Cambridge MA. Sept 19, 2008.

Baruches Achem. Praise the Lord. It is accomplished! The first year of Social Justice Works has just rounded out our first year. And what a year it has been. I would be more than remiss if I failed to take this opportunity to thank my entire steering committee for everything that they have done for this worthy foundation. Everyone of our contributors and supporters should know that we have incurred almost no administrative costs. Except for an all-too brief hire of an administrative assistant, the entire event planning operation was executed by nine non-paid volunteers. Social Justice Works would not have been organized and today’s event could not have been executed without their contributions of immense time, energy, thought, and even money. I could not have nor would I have accomplished this undertaking without their generous and gracious contributions. Please give it up for this incredible team. Our two co-chairs, Ray Shurtleff and Nancy Carlsson-Paige, and the “executive committee” of Joyce and Seacia Pavao, Les Kimbrough, Marion Gillon, Phyllis Bretholtz, and Sarabinh Levy Brightman-Stang. It is critically important to appreciate how these good folks so perfectly represent the vision and goal of what SJW is all about. We are a progressive educational foundation designed to acknowledge and promote the living legacy of progressive education. This team of nine consists of teacher colleagues, parents, and former students. We are 3 retired teachers, 2 active community organizers, 1 working mom, 1 retired school administrator and a current administrators at the DOE, and a former student, now a professional photographer, and “ace” computer specialists. Former students designed and constructed our brochure and webpage, our excel spread sheet of over 850 names. All of this work has been entirely donated. Former students donated their time to be DJ’s and help us with security. Formers students and teacher colleagues, and many parents gave us invaluable advice and encouragement. Everyone is giving back to what was given to them. We are all blessed by these gifts.

I would also be terribly remiss if I failed to express my enormous appreciation and love for Howard Zinn and all that he has brought to this vision and to our mission. We are blessed and deeply honored to have this living, vibrant legend grace us with his presence. Mind you it is no accident that we selected Howard Zinn to be our keynote speaker, and this documentary film to inspire our contributors. Yes, headlining Howard Zinn as our keynote speaker ensures a large enthusiastic crowd. God love him, Howie has star power. He is our progressive icon. But we have a far more authentic reason for bring Howard Zinn to this Awards Dinner.

"A Peoples’ History of the United States" has been my signature text for every one of my history courses since the day I began teaching at The Pilot School. That was 1981 and Howie’s book had just been published. My choice was a no-brainer. My first year of teaching in DC transformed me into a militant teacher activist. Howard is one of the earliest historians of the civil rights movement in the South in the 60’s. His book SNCC: The New Abolitionists is a classic. I was in DC SNCC. Howard Zinn gave new political understanding and legitimacy to our social justice movement. I considered myself to be a progressive educator. I was a history teacher that promoted the importance of social justice in the history of American Democracy as my Over-Arching Understanding goal. Howard’s book provided the revisionist approach to teaching and understanding the struggle of the American people that built our democracy.

Truth be told, I had no idea of the power of this book. Almost on day one of my teaching 33-year career at Pilot and Rindge, a certain young 14-year-old 9th grader walked into my class, passed by my desk and looked over at the grey cover of the People’s History book that sat on my desk and announced “Oh yeah, that’s my baby sitter!” I looked totally puzzled and told this upstart that that was impossible. He was a 60-something year old professor at BU. He insisted he was right. I persisted that he must be wrong, and handed him one of my two copies to take home to ask his mother whether he knew what he was talking about, and report back to me with the book in hand. His very first homework assignment. His mom called me up totally excited at the amazing serendipity of it all. The mom was Nancy Carlsson Paige, and the kid was her eldest son Kyle Damon. We became family. Our Pilot school progressive community building had begun and have remained so ever since. The rest is now history!

More dramatic, parents started calling me up to report that because of me and that damn book, they were constantly arguing with their kids. Not about the TV, the telephone, the car, but about that “bastard Christopher Columbus… and his genocide, and how we have to question our history books and re-examine the evidence.” Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Years later returning students continue telling us how important our progressive teaching and in particular A People’s History was to their awaking political and social consciousness. It is not accident that two CRLS grads made tribute to Howard and the book in their Oscar winning screen play. Graduates kept reporting how they decided to practice our history teaching in their professional lives. They have dedicated their working lives to promoting and defending social justice. It is the measure of how they self assess their successes and failures, and how they plot their self-correction in the trajectory of their lives.

This is why we proclaim with this Awards Dinner that Teaching Social Justice Works.. That book and this film produced by two CRLS graduates of our progressive school and parenting proclaims it. That message could not be more important. I submit to you that there are threatening forces in full operation determined to undermine everything that progressive education has accomplished. Most especially the standardized testing movement and all that it politically represents is a systematic attempt to not only de-legitimize and dismantle the public sector and privatize as much as they can about public schooling, it is also a concerted effort to depoliticize progressive history teaching and demonize the politics of social justice teaching.
But we know better, and having this knowledge is why we are here today to honor these three outstanding students. You will hear about their visions of social justice and learn all about the wonderful things these three have accomplished. They are the concrete evidence that teaching social justice works. They are replicating our lessons! And their projects are designed to continue replicating the dream. I promise you will be inspired and reinvigorated. But I would also be remiss if I did not direct you to the all too brief description of the other outstanding 20 applicants and their amazing social justice work.

I submit that these 22 applicants are only the tip of a widespread mass movement of progressive community organizers that were produced here in Cambridge. They are new heroes. They have emerged from our classrooms and are accomplishing extraordinary things in the most embattled of conditions and circumstances, in some of the most resource and asset deprived communities. You need only to have watched the madness of the Republican Convention of last month and heard the mockery made of community organizing to glimpse what these greedy, self-absorbed politicians intend.

These marvelous graduates of CRLS constitute our warriors battling for social justice in every nook and cranny of our national fabric. They must be acknowledged. Their work must be recognized. We must celebrated them. We must support them and their work. This is our proud, our very proud legacy. Their lives and their dedicated labor is the powerful testimony that Teaching Social Justice Works. Progressive education must be defended and supported. This legacy must be defended and supported. That is our next assignment. That is our mission to accomplish. Thank you.

Larry Aaronson




Social Justice Works: The Aaronson Fund
First Annual Awards Presentation and Party
Hotel Marlowe Cambridge, MA

Dear Friends and Donors,
On behalf of the Planning Committee of Social Justice Works (SJW), we would like to thank you
all very much for your support of this important endeavor. The evening of September 8, 2007
was a very special night for all of us, and, hopefully, for all of you.

We trust that all donors have received a letter of appreciation and gratitude from Cambridge
Community Foundation (CCF), a 501 (c)(3) charity. The Planning Committee, nevertheless,
writes this letter to acknowledge our own personal thanksgiving and, in doing so, report back to
you our remarkable success to date. The success of our kick-off event on September 8th 2007 far exceeded all of our hopes and expectations. Approximately 500 people attended the retirement
celebration/fundraising event and, because of your tremendous generosity, we have already
raised more than $45,000. Cambridge Community Foundation requires that we raise $20,000
in three years in order to achieve perpetuity for our endowment. We have raised twice that in
less than four months! The majority of these donations were gifts of $50 to $250 and we now
have a list of well over 500 donors.

Clearly, our news of the founding of SJW has spread much interest and excitement far beyond
the Cambridge community. This fund actively acknowledges the proud legacy resulting from the
many progressive educators who have taught and promoted social justice. Hopefully, this en-
deavor will resonate throughout our respective networks, and in the future we will be able to
publicize the many successful works of so many of our Cambridge Rindge and Latin School
(CRLS) graduates (yes, Social Justice Works!). We are inspired to carry on our work because of
these many accomplishments in the public/non-profit sector.

We intend to issue one, and eventually two, newsletters a year to update our friends and donors
on everything from our future plans for awarding grants, to our future fund-raising campaigns
and events.

A Second Annual SJW Fall Event in is the works for September/October 2008 that will both ac-
knowledge and celebrate our first grant recipients, as well as continue our aggressive fundrais-
ing. SJW's goal is to raise between $250,000 and $500,000 within 3 years. We intend that our
fund not only recognize and celebrate on-going social justice work by CRLS graduates, but,
equally importantly, establish a supportive network of CRLS activists that will promote the shar-
ing of their good works, while at the same time the foundation raises more funds.
In order to accomplish these ambitious goals, the SJW Planning Committee needs to re-organize
itself to meet the mandates of the Cambridge Community Foundation (CCF). We currently have
a small SJW Executive Committee (The Kitchen Cabinet) that includes several members of the
Planning Committee. We also have a larger Advisory Board of Friends and Donors (which cur-
rently includes those who attended the September 8th event and will include future donors).
Within the Executive Committee, we intend to have several Sub-Committees. The members of
these Sub-Committees (or "working committees") will include one or more members of the Ex-
ecutive Committee plus members of the Advisory Board of Friends and Donors.

We are actively recruiting new volunteers to staff these working committees, which include:

· A Development Sub-Committee that will recruit, assess and then select activists worthy of our
stated goals and submit those names to CCF and take on the task of grant writing (grants to SJW
that will support our fund-raising and social justice efforts);
· An Event Planning Sub-Committee that is charged with organizing our next benefit;
· A Communications Sub-Committee that will have the responsibility for writing a SJW newslet-
ter, setting up our SJW website (, and establishing a blog to dis-
cuss the trials, tribulations and tri-umphs of social justice works.

If you would like to work on one of these Sub-Committees, please send a note to us ASAP at
Social Justice Works
at the Cambridge Community Foundation
99 Bishop Allen Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139

or email Larry Aaronson

If you would like to make a tax-exempt contribution to SJW, please send those to CCF also.
Thank you all again for your generous and continuing support. We look forward to hearing more
from you.

View Pictures from the 2007 Fundraiser


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