Now that we’re a year into the COVID-19 vaccine and unemployment numbers are decreasing, life is looking a little better than it did in November 2020. But the nation still faces a host of challenges, from a potential winter virus surge to the assault on voting rights. Here are some worthy causes and charities to consider while celebrating #GivingTuesday on Nov. 30.
Of course, giving in any one of these areas can also have a positive ripple effect. “We need to see each other as working together as opposed to working separately or in silos,” said Carmen Garcia, the executive director of legal advocacy group Root & Rebound. “We are responsible for the narrative of the communities we serve.”
Even as kids start to get vaccinated and boosters become available to all, anti-vaccine sentiment still abounds across the nation, contributing to the ongoing public health crisis. Heart to Heart International has taken what it learned from dealing with natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes and applied it to the pandemic. It has provided medical supplies such as personal protective equipment and hygiene kits to those in need and worked with the International Medical Corps to send doctors to New York and Chicago to help with staff shortages. It has also hosted youth vaccination drives across Kansas City to get the shot to kids before the holiday season.
LGBTQ+ rights continued to come under assault in 2021, including with the October passage of Texas’ anti-trans bill. The Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice seeks to make life easier for LGBTQ+ youth, amplifying their voices across races and genders to make sure they’re welcomed and heard, whether in the smallest towns in the U.S. or the largest cities abroad. The group has provided more than $31 million in grants to LGBTQ+ activists across the world who promote racial, social, and economic justice, and in 2019, it launched the Acey Award, which honors lesbian, trans, and queer women of color.
Native American tribes have faced some of the highest rates of COVID-19 in the nation, according to Johns Hopkins University. First Nations Development Institute seeks to help give tribal members a chance at a better future. Since 1980, it has awarded more than $46 million in grants across 42 states and regions to help increase development and learning opportunities. Some of its programs include strengthening Native tribes’ economic development, improving access to Native lands and increasing their environmental sustainability, and creating language immersion programs for Native youth.
The year 2021 held one of the most tragic records: the largest single-year increase in overdose deaths. The Partnership to End Addiction is seeking to remove the stigma surrounding addiction as a mental health issue, working with policymakers and healthcare professionals to provide treatment and recovery options, including individualized texting services and resource guides, to both teens dealing with the disease and the parents guiding them through the process.
A study examining domestic violence during COVID-19 found increased rates in Atlanta, Georgia, already the 10th state in the nation for women killed by men. Partnership Against Domestic Violence is the largest nonprofit domestic violence organization in the state, working with local partners to provide victims with legal resources, emergency shelters, and workplace training. The organization reaches about 20,000 people annually, according to its website.
Life is about second chances, and Root & Rebound tries to provide those to communities and individuals affected by mass incarceration. The legal advocacy group is based in California, though it expanded to South Carolina this year. It works to provide legal options such as community lawyers and re-entry opportunities like in-person preparation courses to those affected by mass incarceration. It also provided extra support such as rent relief to those afflicted by the dual challenges of incarceration and the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 16,000 children and teens in the U.S. each year are diagnosed with cancer and only about 4 percent of the federal budget for cancer research goes towards treating childhood cancers, according to the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation. CURE Childhood Cancer aims to tackle the issue head-on, providing tens of millions of dollars in grants to research into various forms of childhood cancer, such as leukemia and aggressive brain tumors. It also provides support services and meals at hospitals to families going through treatment.
The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU’s law school has made a name for itself in its fight to uphold democracy and free and fair elections. That mission has taken on increased salience this year, as new gerrymandering in states poses a risk to minority voters already disadvantaged at the ballot box due to either their race or ID requirements. The organization has conducted research into potential legislative solutions to improve voting rights, such as the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, and constructed policy proposals to explain how the Supreme Court contributed to racial turnout gaps in southern states.