The American Humanist Association is proud to have active humanist groups in forty-six states and the District of Columbia, and we love helping people form new groups. (If you’re a humanist in Hawaii, Kansas, New Hampshire, or North Dakota, we’d especially love to add you to our list!). Our Chapters and Affiliates are always developing creative ways to promote humanism, spread education, and assist communities. One of the many ways AHA is able to support these activities is by providing the Harvey Lebrun Chapter Grant Fund. Here are the eleven 2020 grant awardees:
• Black Nonbelievers of DC: One of our local Washington, DC, affiliates was excited to become an AHA chapter for the opportunity to apply for our grants. The Black Nonbelievers of DC will use the funding to hold a two-day symposium entitled “Legacy” in late spring/early summer 2020. Legacy will uncover a lineage of Black nonbelief throughout American/African-American diasporic history and connect it to the values and lived experiences of Black nontheists today.
• End of the Line Humanists: This AHA chapter, located outside Chicago, will initiate an annual essay contest for high school students in the Oak Park, River Forest, and Forest Park area of Illinois. Because the competition will be in conjunction with their Darwin Day program, the topic will encompass Darwin’s evolutionary biology and its relevance today. “We feel that this contest will promote accurate science education, introduce humanism to young people in our area who may not have knowledge of us, and by way of advertising and promotion, give us more visibility in the community at large.”
• Florida Humanist Association: This group will receive support to attend the Florida Leadership Summit, an event that brings together “energized leaders from local organizations [including other AHA groups] who are interested in exchanging ideas, networking with other groups, learning from one another, and sharing what they have learned to benefit other groups around the state.” We look forward to sharing videos of the summit to encourage similar group collaboration in other states.
• Humanist Forum: This South Bend, Indiana, group wants to attract people in the area by offering more programs with visiting speakers, including Susan Sackett to present “Humanism and Star Trek” in September or October this year. (There are some great recommendations in the AHA Speakers Bureau and the Center for Freethought Equality’s secular elected officials list.)
• Humanists of Greater Portland: Recognizing the many obstacles that asylum seekers face, the Humanists of Greater Portland is growing a donation to Al Otro Lado (AOL), a San Diego organization with a branch in Tijuana that serves refugees. AOL teaches people about their rights, helps them build their cases, provides child care during consultations, and offers lunch during visits. The grant will go to leasing a heavy-duty copy machine and needed office supplies for the project. “Copying cases for clients keeps the copier running all day, with cases sometimes totaling 500 pages or more, and AOL’s machine frequently breaks down. This is just one way we can help in the fight for immigrant justice.”
• Humanists of Linn County: The Humanists of Linn County requested funds to support their annual education symposium in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, which has previously focused on secular death and dying, parenting beyond belief, and street epistemology. This year’s grant will be used to help secure a higher-profile speaker, enhance marketing efforts, reduce admission costs, and offer scholarships.
• Humanists of West Suburban Chicagoland: In order to better communicate science to the general public, the Humanists of West Suburban Chicagoland have developed a program called “Sidewalk Science.” Their members talk to passersby at local parks and festivals about the wonders of science and how it’s a cornerstone of humanism. To expand this program, they plan to use the grant to produce banners, a new website, videos, and guides for other groups to use. They’re even offering to schedule video conferences with other groups to assist with program development.
• Jefferson Humanists: This Colorado chapter plan to attract more new members by using their grant towards a Colorado Public Radio sponsorship. Knowing many of their current members listen to CPR, they believe it’s a good way to reach more humanists in the Denver area.
• North State Humanists: In Concord, North Carolina, the North State Humanists have ambitious goals that their grant will support, including updating their outreach equipment (e.g. tent, table, chairs, and tablecloth), growing their community street pantry, and improving science and art activities for kids (such as their “Science on Sundays” and “Art in the Park” events). “In 2020 we will focus on botany, ornithology, habitat conservation, and amateur astronomy.”
• Pittsburgh Freethought Community: This humanist chapter is using their grant to support immigrant and refugee rights by expanding their partnership with the Casa San Jose community resource center. “CSJ supports and advocates for Latino communities on issues related to local integration and self-sufficiency, so that they can access legal and social services for children, youth, and families.” At a PFC lecture co-sponsored by the Carnegie Mellon University Humanist League, CSJ will educate attendees about the challenges facing our immigrant neighbors and the help they need. PFC will also partner with CSJ on two new programs: supporting Pennsylvania legislation enabling all residents to apply for drivers licenses and working with local police agencies to determine current practices and promote best policies with regard to their interactions with ICE.
• Stanislaus Humanists: Knowing that they need to become more visible within their community, the Stanislaus Humanists are using their awarded grant funding to participate in a variety of festivals, parades, and farmers’ markets in the Modesto and Turlock area in California. They’re planning on games, swag, and educational materials to promote their group and humanism to more people.
Thank you to all who applied for a grant and congratulations again to our winners! We look forward to opening the 2020-2021 Chapter Grant Application in August 2020 and supporting more of our groups’ great ideas. Stay tuned for more on these programs and other activity from our AHA groups throughout the year.