Mission & Action

20100903_lauren_astley_235-3The Lauren Dunne Astley Memorial Fund’s mission is to promote dynamic educational programs, particularly those in the areas of the development of healthy teen relationships, the arts, and community service.

Mission in Action.  The focus of the Lauren Dunne Astley Memorial Fund has been on funding educational initiatives in the Boston area. Breakup violence continues to be a priority with efforts directed at increased awareness and prevention education. Our promotion of healthy teen relationships also reflects themes of the arts and community service.

The Lauren Dunne Astley Memorial Fund is pleased to announce the results of its fifth annual mini-grant program to promote dynamic projects in the three areas of its mission: Effective Teen Relationships & Violence Prevention, the Arts, and Community Service.

In Lauren’s spirit and memory, small grants have recently been awarded to individuals and groups with innovative project ideas in the above areas.

A total of 13 project proposals were awarded mini-grants this year:

  • A new counselor-in-training program for Dot Art, a Dorchester-based summer program focused on art as social activism and public art installations for their community.
  • For Turners Falls High School, enabling the presentation of The Yellow Dress, a dramatic one-woman play based on the stories of young women who were victims of dating violence.
  • In support of a local Community Day for Puerto Rico raising funds for programs supporting youth and families and boosting awareness for the continuing challenges still faced in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
  • Surviving in Numbers:  Tools for Teens – development of a toolkit for young survivors of sexual assault and dating violence, aimed at responding to violence and preventing the violence with distribution throughout Massachusetts.
  • Girls’ LEAP Summer Teen Mentor Program providing leadership training, empowerment and self-defense programs for at-risk teenage girls in Greater Boston.
  • In support of the creation of intergenerational connections through The Golden Tones’ collaboration with area high school chorus singers.
  • A production of Opera del West, honoring Leonard Bernstein’s centennial (potentially Candide), mixing of opera and musical theater.
  • In support of Remembering Lauren, Weston Friendly’s reprisal production of “Annie,” acknowledging Lauren’s legacy and honoring her memory (Lauren performed the title role in 2006).
  • Bobby Mendes Peace Legacy Back-to-School BBQ bringing neighbors together to build community and to promote peace and forgiveness in Upham’s Corner.
  • Expansion of community service opportunities for students at Methuen High School associated with the MVP program.
  • Support for The Second Step’s Youth and Prevention Programs working with youth survivors providing tools to change the directions of their lives
  • Production of an educational animation film, by an educator at Lesley University, based on the role of the active bystander in teaching the bystander to recognize behaviors leading up to relationship and breakup violence.
  • For students at Wayland and Wellesley High Schools, the development of a collaborative effort for a choral festival and master class led by an internationally recognized conductor.

In the 6 years since Lauren’s murder, the Lauren Dunne Astley Memorial Fund has undertaken ten important initiatives in promoting healthy youth relationships and preventing violence including:

  • Collaborating with CBS 48 Hours on production of the video Loved to Death focused on the murder of Lauren Dunne Astley and the issues of dating and break-up violence and violence prevention.
  • Speaking and collaborating at over 125 universities, schools, and corrections, police, religious, medical, civic, service and governmental organizations regarding approaches to promoting healthy relationships and violence prevention.
  • Partnering with the One Love Foundation to sponsor in Massachusetts their nationally-promoted Escalation Workshop targeting high school seniors and mature juniors. The workshop consists of a 40-minute film following the relationship of a young college couple from the earliest exciting stages as it escalates to a tragic end.  The film is followed by a 45-minute peer or adult facilitated discussion focused on helping students to understand the warning signs of abuse, while also gaining clearer understanding of healthy versus unhealthy relationships and skills for safe intervention and referral when necessary.  Training through the workshop is now in process for 15 Massachusetts high schools which we are financing with your help. We believe this film-based workshop is the most powerful tool yet to motivate and educate our high school students about relationship violence, and to empower them to help themselves and their friends.
  • Supporting Massachusetts state funding for 10 pilot school system programs in healthy relationships and violence prevention, grades 5-12.
  • Supporting the development and publishing through UMass Lowell of posters for healthy relationship and violence prevention campaigns for schools and other organizations. The posters are available through the website for only the cost of shipping.
  • Participating in deliberations and planning with the Governor’s Council on Sexual Assault and Violence Prevention.
  • Developing and publishing of a classic comic book focused on healthy relationships and violence prevention, targeted at grades 6 through 12. Samples and ordering procedures will soon be available through the website.
  • Collaborating with the Attorney General’s Game Change initiative in tandem with Robert Kraft and the Patriots Charitable Foundation, Northeastern University, and Jane Doe, Inc. Staff teams at 100 of the 350 public high schools in Massachusetts have been trained in Mentors in Violence Prevention program through Northeastern University and will in turn train student teams for school action and comprehensive and long term initiatives.
  • Establishing a lectureship supporting annual talks and workshops at Elon University, where Lauren Dunne Astley was to attend, on understanding and preventing violence.
  • Sponsorship of an annual mini-grant program supporting projects in all three areas of our mission: healthy relationships and violence prevention, the arts, and community service.

Specific actions for 2011-2017 are posted here.