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A Decade of Daring: Access Strategies Fund Celebrates 10 Years

by Talia Whyte

The Access Strategies Fund celebrated its tenth anniversary Nov. 10 with a gala at the Villa Victoria Center for the Arts. The organization’s mandate is to “provide non-partisan funding and technical assistance to 501 (c)(3) organizations to build the civic participation and power of people of color, diverse women, low-income people, immigrant communities, and other groups that have been denied power in Massachusetts communities.”

Some of the groups honored at the gala were Oiste, Union of Minority Neighborhoods and the Chinese Progressive Association. Oiste, a Latino political action group, was instrumental in challenging redistricting throughout the state, which ultimately led to former House Speaker Tom Finneran being found guilty of obstruction of justice. The Union of Minority Neighborhoods played a role in CORI reform, which finally passed this year, ending limitations on public housing, loans and employment for people with criminal records. The Chinese Progressive Association has helped mobilize Asian American voters and achieved bilingual voting ballots for Boston's Chinese & Vietnamese community.

"We don’t endorse candidates," Bates said. "We do, however, fund programs that increase voter participation in underserved communities and produce trainings to help people of color run for office. More people of color are voting and running for office, and many are winning with support from people of all backgrounds."  While Bates said her organization couldn’t take full credit for President Obama’s win, the fact that he is in office, according to her, shows progress nationally and the potential for people of color within the political arena to be agents for change.