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Seth Otto, recent Masters of Social Work graduate and former Social Justice Fund Intern, shares his experience participating in the winter Immigration Reform Giving Project. The Immigration Reform Giving Project is an abbreviated version of a Giving Project which focuses on supporting organizations committed to immigrant rights and helping move Comprehensive Immigration Reform forward during this critical time. Here, Seth shares his reflections and lessons learned.

I found out about Social Justice Fund at school and I was so impressed by the mission and ambition of this organization that I decided to incorporate it into my practicum work while finishing my Master’s Degree at the University of Washington. For the most part, I didn’t think I would be able to fit a Giving Project into my schedule but when the Immigration Reform Project came along, I jumped at the chance to join. While the Immigration Reform Giving Project was a shorter version of a Giving Project, it was a lot of work. And I’m glad I did it.

I grew up poor and white, so although I understand and identify with the struggles of poor folks and those living on the economic margins, I was sheltered from the marginalization that people of color experience. As part of a Giving Project my social justice analysis and understanding was challenged, broadened and strengthened in ways that I didn’t expect. I developed a strong analysis of racism, classism, and how they intersect in society and in my personal life. Joining a Giving Project has been a powerful opportunity to face my fears and my discomfort in areas of engaging across difference and to
take a chance on my community to stand up to injustice.

Money has been such a powerful force in my life. It’s uncomfortable to think about what I have and don’t have and how I can manage it all. The biggest challenge during my project was my own discomfort around fundraising. The idea of asking folks for money just seemed so daunting. After some practice, some support, and lots of encouragement, I found that fundraising was awesome way to open up conversations in myself and among my friends and family. Finding a new framework to think about
money, in a community with others who are in a range of places on this topic has been liberating. Volunteering to serve as part of a Giving Project is an opportunity that I still can’t believe I had the privilege of experiencing.

I’m more optimistic now more than ever that empowerment is not only possible but it’s happening all around us. I feel an overwhelming sense of joy for the current and future friendships that have come through my time here at Social Justice Fund. I am so nourished from the process of giving my time, energy and resources to something so much bigger than myself.

The winter Immigration Reform Giving Project engaged 149 donors and raised over $34,000 over the course of only ten weeks! The group was able to deliver grants to three organization organizing for dignified Immigration Reform. Learn more about the grantees of this project