Says Board Member Mickey Hart: "Rex is all about finding ways to make a better world where others don't really go."
The Rex Foundation, a non-profit charity established in 1983 by friends and members of the Grateful Dead, announces its latest awards and grants to organizations totaling $78,000. Since its inception, Rex has awarded $8.2 million in grants to over 1,000 organizations throughout the world.
Rex announced the 2006 recipients of the Jerry Garcia, Ralph J. Gleason and Bill Graham Awards, presented in memory of the late Grateful Dead guitarist, rock critic and concert promoter:
Jerry Garcia Award - Los Cenzontles Mexican Art Center (LCMAC) $10,000
LCMAC, located in San Pablo, CA, provides a quality education in Mexican art forms and works to promote and present unique, culturally valuable arts and artists in Mexican genres. They sponsor cultural exchanges between the U.S. and Mexico, with an emphasis on youth, and develop community awareness and responsibility through the traditional arts. They promote a strong technical approach to music and dance. www.loscenzontles.com
Ralph J. Gleason Award - New Old Time Chautauqua $10,000
Port Townsend, Washington's New Old Time Chautauqua builds community through laughter, entertainment and education. They aim to delight, educate, amaze, and provoke the imagination of adults and children alike via their Summer Tours, which include vaudeville shows, workshops, and parades. This entirely volunteer organization serves diverse communities with a focus on underserved areas and promotes interaction within these communities. www.chautauqua.org
Bill Graham Award - Innocence Project $10,000
The Innocence Project provides post-conviction legal assistance to people in prison whose claims of innocence can be proven through DNA testing.. They serve all those affected: the wrongfully convicted and their families, crime victims and their families, and criminal justice professionals. They work to bring reforms to the criminal justice system. The Rex Award specifically supports an Innocence Project program to help newly exonerated people re-settle into their homes and community. www.innocenceproject.org
The recent 2007 grant recipients are:
Art in Action is an Oakland, CA-based community-building social justice camp that helps young people utilize their creative talents and passions to pursue social change. Participants create music, spoken word poetry, hip-hop/rap, art and theatrical dances to speak out against and build alternatives to issues they see negatively impacting their lives and communities. www.artinactioncamp.org
BAYCAT of San Francisco educates, empowers and employs students using digital media arts as the vehicle to engage them positively in their lives, in school and in society. BAYCAT's mission is to inspire underserved youth and young adults to develop their unique talents and to create enriching and productive futures for themselves and their communities. www.baycat.org
- Creator's Art Productions $3,000
Berkeley, CA's Creator's Art Productions produces and distributes a free video to low-income people at community health clinics to demonstrate Jin Shin Jyutsu's self-help exercises for managing the side effects of medical treatments for cancer and other conditions. Jin Shin Jyutsu is an ancient Japanese practice that balances the body's energy to eliminate stress, relieve pain and alleviate acute or chronic conditions.
- Destiny Arts Center $5,000
Destiny Arts Center; located in Oakland, exists to end isolation, prejudice and violence in the lives of young people by providing financially accessible dance, theater, martial arts, violence prevention and youth leadership classes to diverse groups of youth ages 3-18. Classes are taught year-round by professional instructors, at the main site as well as in outreach programs at local schools and community centers.www.destinyarts.org
New York City based HeadCount's mission is to encourage participation in democracy among music fans through organized voter registration efforts, education and activities that point young people on a path toward activism. The organization has three objectives: to register voters; to stress the importance of voting, and to give the activists of tomorrow an organized structure through which they can make a difference. www.headcount.org
- Military Families Speak Out – Gold Star Families Speak Out Chapter $2,500
Gold Star Families Speak Out of Jamaica Plain, MA, is a support, advocacy and resource group comprised of families who have lost a member during military duty. They have been effective in lobbying military leaders for better conditions for soldiers in the field, including improved communication, training and equipment, and for changes in policies and procedures, such as repeat tours of duty. www.gsfso.org
- Mineral Policy Institute $2,500
MPI is an Australia-based grassroots research, campaign and advocacy organization working to ensure that the minerals and energy cycle operates on principles of human rights, social justice and ecologically sustainable development. MPI has campaigned successfully on mining issues in Australia and overseas including the successful campaign to prevent the development of the Jabiluka uranium mine in Kakadu National Park. www.mpi.org.au
- Monroe Elementary After-School Arts Enrichment Program $5,000
The Rex Foundation grant specifically supports an after-school comprehensive arts and enrichment program at Monroe Elementary School in San Francisco, which serves approximately 475 mostly immigrant K-5 students in the Excelsior neighborhood of San Francisco. The grant will boost an existing program to include a comprehensive after-school arts and enrichment program that will be accessible to all families at Monroe. www.Monroeelementaryschool.com
- Port Townsend/Bay Saint Louis Sister City Project $2,500
The Port Townsend/Bay Saint Louis Sister City Project in Port Townsend, Washington, is a long-term effort to rebuild Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. To date over 100 Port Townsend volunteers have gutted houses, cleared debris, helped rebuild homes and a day care center, provided books, tools, building supplies, computers and other necessities to lend a hand to the citizens of Bay Saint Louis. www.sistercitysupport.net
- Rainforest Information Centre (RIC) $2,500
RIC's current project in central Africa involves research, investigation and documentation throughout the Congo Forest Basin. The organizations raises awareness of environmental and social realities in Central Africa; empowers indigenous people to protect the environment and protect their forest and aquatic landscapes; builds grassroots alliances; and promotes international policies to support Central Africa. www.rainforestinfo.org.au
826 Valencia in San Francisco, supports students aged six to 18 in writing skills, and helps teachers get their students excited about writing. Their work is based on the understanding that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success and that great leaps in learning can be made when skilled tutors work one-on-one with students. Teams of volunteer tutors work with students to fill the gap of overcrowded classrooms. www.826valencia.org
- Youth Movement Records (YMR) $5,000
Oakland, California's YMR is a youth-directed recording company and youth development project, engaging disadvantaged youth through music production to reduce violence, develop critical thinking skills and create community change. Students take classes and workshops designed to develop fundamentals, and then produce their own music on CD compilations and perform at YMR-produced events. www.youthmovementrecords.org
As former Grateful Dead drummer and current Rex board member Mickey Hart stated, "Rex is all about finding ways to make a better world where others don't really go. It's one of those in-the-cracks kinds of organizations. It was always meant to do things that we considered important but weren't necessarily mainstream or popular."
The Rex Foundation supports groups and individuals doing vital work in local communities, service organizations and the arts, especially those that can serve as models and inspiration elsewhere. From the beginning, grant recipients have been grassroots efforts too small to register on the radar of large-scale charitable foundations.
"With 23 years of grant-making history, there are many examples of how support of grassroots organizations makes a positive difference," says Sandy Sohcot, Executive Director. "Now, as we build an ever-expanding grassroots philanthropic community, we enthusiastically further what the Grateful Dead started to benefit people and communities far and wide."
The Rex Foundation's commitment to the grassroots extends to its fundraising, a key component of which is local benefit concerts around the country, known as Black Tie-Dye Balls. They bring together musicians, fans, and local community groups, building philanthropic synergy in a fun and creative environment. And, in contrast to charities that focus on courting big donors, Rex fosters broad community participation with the Rex Community Caravan, a program that welcomes donations of $5 or more.
In a time characterized by a frequent sense of darkness and gloom, the Rex Foundation works to provide an antidote by rekindling hope, optimism and a sense of community, encouraging people to engage in vital civic and community activities, such as voting, participating in local government, neighborhood associations, and social action efforts — as Gandhi said, "to be the change they want."