The Lauren Dunne Astley Memorial Fund is pleased to announce its 2023 mini-grant recipients!

For ten years now, the Lauren Dunne Astley Memorial Fund has awarded seed grants to support innovative and creative initiatives working in the three areas of its mission: Effective Teen Relationships & Violence Prevention, the Arts, and Community Service. We are proud to announce funding for a total of 19 projects this year, all of which carry Lauren Dunne Astley’s spirit and memory into their important work. Congratulations to this year’s award winners!

Arts Wayland Foundation (Robyn Gray): Musical Programming at First Parish.This grant will support Arts Wayland in expanding its live music offerings to the local area. A series featuring both classical and jazz performances will take place at the First Parish Unitarian Universalist church in 2023.

Wayland High School (Scott Parseghian): Safe Bae Partnership. This grant will help to bring a program by SafeBAE, a national leader in sexual-violence prevention work, to visit junior Wellness classes. SafeBAE works to empower teens with the tools, knowledge, and confidence they need to be effective peer leaders, upstanders, and agents of change in their own school culture, a perfect addition to the WHS curriculum.

Children’s Recovery Center (Rebeca Doherty): “Body Safety and Consent Comic”. This project will develop a comic book educating older children and younger teens on the fundamentals of body safety, consent, and knowing when it’s time to tell an adult. 

Melrose Alliance Against Violence (Crystal Johnson): “Expect Respect Support Groups”. This school-based support group curriculum, evaluated by the CDC, is intended to serve children and youth who have been exposed to violence at home or in their own teen dating experiences and aims to prevent further harm and promote healing.

Wakefield Alliance Against Violence (Amy Chiaravalloti): Violence Prevention Club. Grant to help WAAV start a violence prevention club at Wakefield High School and hire an advisor to guide its efforts.

Wayland Cultural Council (Jane Pursur and Rachel Sideman-Kurtz): Utility Box Art and Art on the Rail Trail.  Two efforts by the WCC will bring added vitality and beauty to Wayland’s outdoor public spaces. The first will add to the growing number of curbside utility boxes transformed into original works of art around town. The second, part of the “Go Out Doors – Neighbors” public art campaign, will commission works by local artists to be painted on actual wooden doors to be featured in a temporary installation along the town’s rail trail. 

Dedham School of Music (Jody Pongratz): The Harmony Fund. The Harmony Fund of the nonprofit Dedham School of Music provides funding for programs reaching the underserved and financial aid to individual students who are unable to afford music lessons or classes.

White Ribbon Group of Lincoln, Wayland, Sudbury (Colm McGarry): Presentation of Watching Dad – what we learn from our fathers about being parents and partners. Funding in support of The White Ribbon Group’s annual public presentation as part of its mission to increase awareness of violence against women and girls and to promote new ways of expressing masculinity that counter these problems in society. 

Golden Tones (Deborah Lee Marion): Intergenerational Collaboration. This project is a collaboration between two choirs from different generations, high school students and retirees, connecting with and learning from one another through a shared love of making music. 

Plymouth Schools Music Association. (Beth Lopes): Summer Camp Scholarship Fund. PSMA, a 501©3 organization, will use funding to offer scholarships to students with demonstrated financial need so they can attend the Plymouth Public Schools Summer Visual and Performing Arts Camps.          

The Second Step (Suzanne Wakefield): Student Partnerships for Violence Prevention and Awareness. This grant will support work with student-led high school clubs in the area that are focused on increasing local teens’ understanding of relationship violence, healthy teen relationships, and resources for support. It will also help The Second Step to initiate a parenting group series to raise awareness and share resources on healthy relationships and violence prevention with parents in their programs.  

Christine McKenna Lock: Growing Boys into Gentle Men. This project will host screenings of “The Mask You Live In” in September for parents and caregivers of Wayland Middle School and High School students, followed by parent panels discussing how to foster healthy masculinity in the community and in our families. September events will be followed by monthly book talks for parents/caregivers from October through May. 

Opera del West (Eve Budnick): A Night of Concert Arias. Opera del West will present four Solo Concert Arias at The Center for Arts in Natick. These particular short works, by composers Beethoven, Ibert, Lee Hoiby, and Samuel Barber, are usually only performed in the context of a non-staged recital, but in this case, four local opera singers will be able to present them in a real performance, with staging, costumes, and props.

Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Westport (Nathan Pawelek): Appalachia Service Project. Funding will support the high school youth group of the UUCW as they embark upon an eight-month learning journey of planning, fundraising, and preparing for a week-long service trip to northeast Tennessee. Working as part of the nonprofit Appalachia Service Project, the youth group will rebuild dilapidated houses for those in need.

Prana Yoga (Amy Williams): Dialectic Behavior Therapy Skills Group for Teens. DBT Skills Group for Teens is an in-person, 13-session group therapy curriculum designed to teach Dialectical Behavior Therapy skills, which include mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness. This grant will allow this demonstrably effective program to be offered at a reduced cost to young people seeking strategies to feel more power and control in their lives.

Jewish Family & Children’s Service (Dipanwita Bhattacharyya): TeenSafe. Through leadership, skill-building, and education, TeenSafe gives teens the language and tools they need to recognize abuse in a dating relationship and know how to respond if they see, hear about, or experience it. The goal is both to prevent domestic violence and to help young people cultivate the skills and confidence to become leaders of cultural change.

Girls’ LEAP (Lynn Carberry Masterson): Advanced Leadership Empowerment Awareness Program Curriculum Expansion. With this support, Girls’ LEAP will further refine and pilot its 10-part Advanced Leadership Empowerment Awareness Program (LEAP) which includes a focus on healthy relationships. The curriculum is designed for middle and high school girls and gender-expansive youth who are enrolled in the Advanced LEAP program.

Women of Wayland Podcast (Yamini Ranjan). The Women of Wayland Podcast strives to connect and inspire women in the community by telling remarkable stories that otherwise might never be heard or come to light. This funding will help the podcast to continue to broaden its reach and to expand its team of people helping to find and develop important stories.

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