Posted on Wicked Local on Dec. 14, 2020
Author: Erin Brown/Correspondent, Wicked Local
The Parents Forum, a Cambridge-based organization that supports families in their communities, has received a $7,500 grant from the Gannett Foundation’s “A Community Thrives” program. A Community Thrives invests in projects across the United States that strengthen local ties and focus on social initiatives.
The Cambridge Chronicle is a member of the Gannett/USA TODAY network.
According to co-founder Eve Sullivan, the Parents Forum aims to help parents improve relationships by teaching family members to improve communication and express feelings effectively. Sullivan said the organization was started in the early 1990s at a time when she, as a parent, needed support from others. “It was one of those ‘life gives you lemons, so make lemonade’ stories,” she said. “Other parents in my circle helped me learn how to be present with myself and with my children on an emotional level. This emotional awareness I acquired through peer support was so important, I wanted to pass it along.”
The program is based on a curriculum that focuses on eight questions about family life issues, to help parents improve their communications skills. The approach is outlined in Sullivan’s book “Where the Heart Listens,” which she self-published in 2001. She says the idea has been somewhat of a hard sell because “it’s hard to get people to look honestly at the challenges they are facing in their own lives.”
Still, the Parents Forum has gained traction. Sullivan, who now partners with co-director Djamel Bekkai, says they’ve been able to raise money via crowdfunding, and they’ve also started working with an agency in Ohio that is training members of its community on the principles of the program. With the funding from A Community Thrives, Sullivan says they will invest in marketing to raise the visibility of the project and continue to spread the word to communities and agencies nationwide.
“We have started talking with the National Parents Union, based in Somerville, to help us connect with interested parents and activists,” said Sullivan. “We want to do more projects with agencies that we can support and that also can support us.”
The National Parents Union focuses on childhood education, equity, and social justice.
Now in its fourth year, A Community Thrives awards grants to worthy causes in communities across the U.S. to help create positive change. Supported by the Gannett Foundation, the program also enables non-profits to promote their ideas and efforts on a national platform from the USA TODAY NETWORK, inclusive of USA TODAY and Gannett’s hundreds of local media outlets, including the Cambridge Chronicle, to drive further support through donations.
After receiving more than 900 submissions from organizations across 45 states, A Community Thrives is awarding $2.3 million in grants: $1 million in National Project Grants and $1.3 million in Local Operating Grants. The program’s crowdfunding effort through MightyCause has raised an additional $3,341,000. A total of $5.6 million will be distributed to these non-profits from the Gannett Foundation and the program’s fundraising efforts combined.
“At Gannett, we take pride in supporting community-building initiatives. Through A Community Thrives, we lend financial support to that purpose and rally communities to champion good and meaningful causes. Congratulations and best wishes to these outstanding grant recipients and their amazing projects,” said Gannett Chairman and CEO Mike Reed.
The Gannett Foundation selected the 2020 national grants recipients based on the proposed projects’ viability, sustainability, community need and community building properties and service to historically marginalized and/or under-resourced groups.
The Parents Forum is one of six Massachusetts organizations to receive grants from the organization this year. To learn more or to get involved, visit parentsforum.org. The group also has a Facebook presence @ParentsForumGlobal.