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Human Rights Commission Provides Supportive Funding

by Colleen Paveglio
Monday, March 8, 2021

March 8, 2021 - 

The City of Traverse City’s Human Rights Commission (HRC) recently offered supportive funding, up to $500, to area nonprofit organizations. Eight organizations applied for funding and the HRC chose five local projects whose purposes complement those of the Commission. An HRC commissioner was assigned as a liaison to work with each group.

Throughout its 26-year history, the HRC has sponsored public hearings, community conversations, educational forums, and celebrations of civil rights milestones such as Martin Luther King Day, and films like "RBG" and "Just Mercy." COVID-19 provided an opportunity for the HRC to pivot their approach to reaching their annual goals and offer funding to those with shared missions and values.

“While most yearly events have been rescheduled or postponed this year, the HRC has taken another avenue to continue its work. The need for human rights advocacy didn't stand still this year, it became even more urgent," says Susan Odgers, HRC Chairperson. "We have selected five community projects to collaborate with, using a portion of our 2020-21 budget to supplement their costs."

$500 Awarded: Before, During, and After Incarceration (BDAI)

Deacon Tom Bousamra will work with Commissioners Jerry Beasley and Jessica Forster in purchasing meals for its monthly support sessions. These support sessions are free and open to formerly incarcerated residents and their families. Families of currently incarcerated people are also welcome to attend.

$500 Awarded: Dennos Museum Center

A collaboration with the HRC and other community groups to host Resilience: African-American Artists as Agents of Change.  This exhibition and its related tours, discussions, and programs align with the Dennos’ strategic focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. This will be the first exhibition to showcase the talent of African-American artists. As a sponsor/collaborator, HRC will assist with community outreach and engagement.  Commissioner Susan Odgers is the Commission liaison for this project.

$500 Awarded: The Traverse Area District Library

The Traverse Area District Library is purchasing “Book Club Kits’ as part of the library's annual provision of resources to encourage community book clubs.  The HRC’s purchase of books will relate to racial equity and social justice topics. As a sponsor/collaborator, HRC Commissioner Jennifer Loup will assist with outreach and community engagement and members will promote the kits with new and existing book clubs.

$485 Awarded: Traverse City Area Public Schools

Alison Sullivan, U.S. History teacher at East Middle School, is purchasing 34 copies of the book Stamped: Racism, Anti-racism, and You, for use in 8th grade classes to facilitate anti-racism education.  Marilyn Jaquish, HRC Commission liaison, will participate in selected classroom activities.

$500 Awarded: United Way of Northwest Michigan

A 5-Day Equity Challenge, based on the statewide 21-Day Equity Challenge is being developed. This program was originally designed for companies to conduct with employees. However, based on participant feedback, the adult program will be customized to foster and guide conversations among families with school-age children, addressing issues of racial equity and systemic racism. It will be offered free to the public, in collaboration with the HRC and other organizations with similar racial equity goals. Commissioner Nicole Agruda, HRC Commission liaison, will collaborate with Seth Johnson, United Way of Northwest Michigan CEO, in community outreach and engagement, and HRC members will have the opportunity to participate in the 5-Day Equity Challenge.

For more information on the Human Rights Commission visit,