This summer, the American Friends Service Committee continued its tradition of engaging youth by sponsoring freedom schools in the South Region.
AFSC has a rich history of organizing alternative education dating back to the Civil Rights Movement, when volunteers helped to arrange placement for African American students who had been locked out of schools that refused to desegregate.
Great work is happening across the South Region! From dismantling destructive narratives surrounding mass incarceration, to expanding free school meals for kids, to addressing deepseated issues in New Orleans through and past Hurricane Katrina's 10th anniversary, we support our programs in their mission for peace.
On June 22nd, 2015, a group of young people and AFSC staff from the DC Peace & Economic Justice Project and West Virginia's Appalachian Center for Equality (ACE) gathered for a week in order to discuss human rights and prepare for a day of meeting with elected officials. The DC Youth Human Rights Summit, a weeklong event now in its third year, was supported by Bethesda Friends Meeting as well as the Barrett Foundation.
In 1922, Friends Drew Pearson and Walter Abel visited West Virginia in response to appeals for emergency relief. AFSC was young—barely five years old—but it had already amassed an impressive record in relieving human suffering.
The results of their investigation were published in an AFSC pamphlet titled Personality and Coal in West Virginia. They reported that "We are satisfied by our investigations that there is widespread destitution, and much need of relief, among the families of the miners.”
The Appalachian Center for Equality, AFSC’s youth leadership program in the southern coalfields of West Virginia, is thrilled to introduce Liz Brunello as its new program associate.
Liz came to West Virginia as an Americorp VISTA and has since led a girls’ empowerment program in Logan County and overseen multiple mini-grantees around the state who are working on healthy lifestyle initiatives in their community.
In a tough political year in West Virginia, young people from the Appalachian Center for Equality program rose to the challenge.
In the wake of the 2014 elections, control of the WV legislature passed to Republican hands for the first time since 1932. Many legislators who had championed the statewide Our Children Our Future campaign to end child poverty were either no longer there or were not in leadership positions. Many legislators were newly elected and largely unknown.
West Virginia Economic Justice Project program coordinator Beth Spence began working for AFSC in WV in 2002, but her connection goes back decades farther. A Logan, WV native and longtime collaborator with the AFSC program there, she did pioneering work on rural homelessness. She also helped the new Economic Justice Project get started in 1989.
Our Children Our Future, West Virginia’s campaign to end child poverty, is gearing up for the 2015 legislative session. This coalition of coalitions, of which AFSC is an active member, has won over a dozen policy victories over the last two years, including prison reform, Medicaid expansion, raising the minimum wage, and restoring funding for family programs. While most of these victories take place at the capitol in Charleston during the 60 day legislative sessions that typically last from January to March, the campaign works statewide and year-round to build momentum.
AFSC’s West Virginia Economic Justice (WVEJ) program won a major victory in the 2014 state legislative session with the passage of a measure establishing a Future Fund, a permanent mineral trust fund created from a portion of natural resource severance taxes. “This is a campaign we’ve worked on with key allies for about four years,” WVEJ Director Rick Wilson said. “The bill is not perfect because it was amended and weakened late in the session, but we hope to strengthen it next year.
AFSC is a Quaker organization devoted to service, development, and peace programs throughout the world. Our work is based on the belief in the worth of every person, and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice. Learn more
Where we work
AFSC has offices around the world. To see a complete list see the Where We Work page.