“The #MeToo movement has brought significant attention to the widespread nature of sexual misconduct, harassment and abuse,” says Karen Baker, Raliance managing partner and CEO of partner organization the NSVRC. “Now the conversation is shifting to prevention. We’re proud to support these ten innovative projects with concrete strategies that support survivors and make communities healthier and safer.”
Raliance, a Washington D.C.-based national partnership dedicated to “ending sexual violence in one generation,” recently awarded ten grants worth a total of $470,000 to organizations working to prevent sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse.
The grants were in three focus areas: services or advocacy for people who have been sexually victimized, strategies for reducing the likelihood of people to sexually offend, and organizational, systemic or community-level prevention strategies. Each organization received an award of $40,000 or $50,000.
Among the organizations receiving grants were the National Organization of Sisters of Color Ending Sexual Assault (a Windsor, CT-based group leading a national project on safe housing and healing spaces for female sexual violence survivors of color), Prairie View A&M University in Texas (which is working with student athletes and targeting campus events like homecoming and spring break in preventing sexual violence), and the YWCA of Southern Arizona in Tucson (which offers a bilingual awareness and prevention program to help Latinx victims of sexual abuse seek help and report abuse). Other grant recipients were The Center for Hope and Healing (Lowell, MA), Catholic University of America (Washington, D.C.), the Arab-American Family Support Center (New York, NY), Visioning B.E.A.R. Circle Intertribal Coalition (Greenfield, MA), Hollaback (Brooklyn, NY), and PhilaPOSH (Philadelphia, PA).
The ten grantee organizations’ members and missions encompass an array of ethnic, religious, gender and occupation-based identities. Along with these ten new initiatives receiving grants, Raliance has awarded $2.8 million to 52 projects over the last several years.
Raliance was formed in 2015 through a multimillion-dollar seed investment by the National Football League (NFL). It aims to combat sexual violence by funding prevention programs, advancing research, and influencing public policy. Raliance partners with three major national organizations in this area: the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), which is the nation’s leading nonprofit in providing information and tools to prevent and respond to sexual violence; the National Alliance Ending Sexual Violence, the voice in Washington for the 56 state and territorial sexual assault coalitions and 1,300 local rape crisis centers; and PreventConnect, a national online resource to prevent sexual and domestic violence.
The grants were announced in early April to coincide with a day of action in conjunction with the NSVRC-sponsored Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The campaign’s theme, “I Ask,” advances asking for consent as a healthy, normal, and necessary part of everyday interactions.
Raliance’s solutions to ending sexual violence include the role of sport, which is particularly relevant for an organization receiving funding from the NFL. As Raliance notes, “Sexual and domestic violence (SV/DV) is a pervasive problem throughout the United States. As a central component of American society, sport is an influential system that can contribute to the pervasiveness of SV/DV AND can be a powerful part of the solution to ending SV/DV.”
The NFL has attracted negative publicity for its seeming lax position on sexual misconduct which includes failing to adequately discipline star players engaged in sexual violence and turning a blind eye to the harassment of women working for or with NFL teams. Moreover, the stepping stone to the NFL, National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I football programs, have also been dogged with allegations of sexual misconduct, as have a number of high school football programs.
Raliance compiled a report in 2017 entitled “How Sport Can End Sexual Violence in ONE GENERATION.” Raliance partnered with the Center on Gender Equity and Health at the University of California, San Diego on the study which consulted with 49 experts, engaged in a comprehensive literature review, and developed recommendations for using sport as a tool to end sexual violence. In the report, Raliance noted that sport can play a powerful role as an avenue to prevent sexual violence/domestic violence, and as a platform to spread values to end SV/DV. In other words, efforts can be made at the highest levels of sport, like the NFL, as well as throughout the sports pipeline (high school and collegiate athletics) to change attitudes and practices surrounding SV/DV.
The top levels of the sports pyramid are also an ideal platform to advocate against sexual violence, as millions of people watch professional sports, and prominent athletes are held in high esteem by many boys and young men. Finally, sport can work in conjunction with other institutions, movements and associations in preventing sexual abuse and misconduct, as demonstrated by the ten recent Raliance grants.