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.

Actions

Spring 2016

  • Much of our work now is focused on the formation of an exciting partnership with the One Love Foundation to launch The Escalation Workshop, a 1.5 hour facilitated workshop for high school and college students:
    • The centerpiece is an engaging 40-minute film depicting a young college couple from the earliest exciting stages of their relationship escalating to a tragic end
    • The film is followed by a 45-minute, peer or adult facilitated discussion focused on helping students understand the warning signs of abuse while also gaining clearer understanding of healthy versus unhealthy relationships and learning skills for safe intervention and referral when necessary.

After raising funds last fall to bring this program to 17 Massachusetts high schools, the selection process is now underway. 

MINI-GRANT PROGRAM

We are pleased to announce the recipients of our third annual mini-grant program to fund dynamic projects promoting the three arenas of our 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 dynamic project ideas in the above areas.

A total of 10 project proposals were awarded mini-grants:

  • Production of the 10th anniversary of Opera del West, the opera in residence at the Center for Arts in Natick
  • The Akaa Project’s creative arts programming and upcycled library furniture construction for its small village school in rural Ghana, an area previously lacking access to education
  • Collaboration with Jane Doe, Inc. and others supporting the traveling exhibit “Displays of Character:  Men Reimagining Manhood” toward ending gender-based violence
  • Girls’ LEAP Summer Mentor Program in Dorchester focused on leadership training and effective relationships
  • In support of the creation of intergenerational connections through the Golden Tones’ collaboration with area high school chorus singers
  • Development of a teacher’s guide and curriculum materials on teen dating violence prevention using a comic book format to reach teenagers
  • Support of Wayland High School Innovation Realization Lab, the new makerspace where students in a class pursue creative functional art projects
  • Sponsorship of a student-initiated, professionally-produced album by all three A Cappella groups at Wayland High School
  • Funding for two college students from Wayland to produce a documentary film about a Bolivian wildlife refuge and its environmental and social impacts
  • Support for The Second Step’s residential and community-based programs:  a ground-breaking initiative to provide adolescent men and women impacted by domestic violence with tools to change the direction of their lives

Winter 2015-16

  • The Lauren Dunne Astley Memorial Fund is proud to be linked on an on-going basis with Attorney General Maura Healey’s Game Changer Initiative, carried out in tandem with Bob Kraft and the New England Patriots; Jane Doe, Inc.; and the Mentors in Violence Prevention Program (MVP) developed through the leadership of Dan Lebowitz and Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society.  Staffs at 100 of the 350 public high schools in Massachusetts will receive training in MVP so as to provide on-going training to students in dismantling cultural messages that promote dating violence, in recognizing the signs of at risk relationships and break ups, and in learning to take safe steps to intervene and prevent violence.  30 high schools will also receive additional in-depth leadership training the better to address these matters in model programs.  
  • Malcolm also participated in talks at Wellesley High School initiated and organized by a student-staff team to include brainstorming with counseling and support staff, and then talks to parents, school staff and finally students on the challenges of dating and break up violence and their prevention.
  • In November, Malcolm spoke to parents, staff and students at Maynard High School on dating and break up violence, effective relationships and violence prevention and talked about the Sudbury-Wayland-Lincoln Domestic Violence Roundtable at the Thanksgiving Interfaith Service in Wayland.
  • In December, Malcolm took part in a State House launching of a display commissioned by Jane Doe, Inc. The display’s theme is Reimagining Manhood and highlights the work in this area of 13 White Ribbon Ambassadors, Malcolm having been included as one.
  • He attended two open meetings of the Governor’s Council on Sexual Assault on Domestic Violence, joining their year-long conversation and planning of the creation of comprehensive efforts to address the related matters, provide support and intervention to victims and perpetrators and to build effective preventive practices.
  • Later in December he took part in the Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School In-House Summit on effective relationships and violence prevention.
  • Malcolm spoke to about 70 associates of the Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni’s office including corrections officers, sheriff’s personnel, victim witness advocates and other service providers on the topic of dating and break up violence, its indicators, causes and prevention.  The talk was filmed for cable TV use.
  • Malcolm is also scheduled in late February to speak to students at Southbridge High School and to seniors in health classes at Andover High School.

Fall 2015

  • In October, Lauren’s father, Malcolm, through the coordination of Leonard DeBenedictis, organizer of Massachusetts General Hospital Men Against Abuse, spoke with physicians and other Hospital personnel about the prevention of boys’ and men’s violence against girls and women and against other boys and men.
  • Malcolm spoke in October to the students and staff at Xaverian High School which has been working with a student peer group, Young Men For Change, to understand and work on the prevention of boys’ and men’s violence against girls and women and against each other.
  • At Bates College, he spoke on the same topic with student activists, and at the end of the month Malcolm was the keynote speaker at the Dove Gala and fundraiser.
  • On September 15, Mary and Malcolm joined state attorney general Maura Healey and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft to announce a major new initiative to educate high school students about dating violence prevention. “Game Change: The Patriots Anti-Violence Partnership” aims to stop domestic violence and sexual assault by helping young people spot warning signs of unhealthy relationships.
  • Mary spoke at the Garden of Peace Memorial Walkway in Boston during their annual dedication of new names.
    Mary has organized two teams of volunteers to work at Wayland’s
  • Habitat for Humanity project on Sept 26, in Lauren’s honor and in the spirit of her volunteer work after Hurricane Katrina.

Summer 2015

  • Malcolm worked for several days in August at Xaverian High School in Westwood with Chris Vasta, Assistant Principal, and Jennifer Bolton of Dove as they reflected with student leaders in an organizing group, Young Men 4 Change, on the causes of boys’ and men’s violence against girls and women and how they might work on prevention in their school community as well as the rest of our society. They are planning a comprehensive effort over the year involving student peer leaders in guiding community planning. Malcolm will speak in October as part of the campaign involving a wide variety of activities including tapping regular theology classes so that all students can reflect on the issues and develop effective action steps aimed at prevention.
  • Malcolm also began planning work on a campaign with Assistant Principal Andrew O’Brien of Central Catholic High School. Plans include Malcolm’s speaking there in the fall where they are also working on a comprehensive effort at coping with the challenges involved in understanding preventing boys’ and men’s violence against girls and women and against each other.
  • Early in August, Malcolm received training as a facilitator for the viewing of and reflection on the movie, Escalation, depicting a powerful and realistic picture of a fictitious college abusive relationship. The film was developed through the One Love Foundation, and has had highly positive impact at over 300 colleges and 100 high schools across the country. Malcolm will be involved with others first locally in helping the film be used well in high school education campaigns on the understanding and prevention of boys and men’s violence against girls and women and against each other.
  • In June, Malcolm joined forces with Think Peace, an organization and movement created by Denise Tavares, the mother of Andrew Tavares, killed in neighborhood violence. The evening event focused on steps toward peace was organized with the help of Sarah Mausner. Malcolm spoke about some of the core issues leading to violence, and remarks were also made by Bill Richard, father of Martin Richard who was killed at the Marathon bombing and father of Jane Richard who was injured, yet still did cartwheels that night to the delight of many.
  • Through much of the summer we worked with Associate Professor of Design Karen Roehr of the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. The result of a mini-grant funding her students’ design and publication of visual materials to support campaigns in middle schools, high school, colleges and other organizations across the United States. To support campaigns they will soon be on sale for the cost of shipping through the website.
  • Malcolm worked with the Program Committee of the Sudbury-Wayland-Lincoln Domestic Violence Round Table this summer to follow up last December’s forum focused on the question of how communities can take better steps to prevent violence. The program for the year will involve three special community presentations focused on priority steps that came out of the forum. The first presentation will involve a panel of experts discussing how to help youth cope with the “normal” challenging trauma of life, the better to develop resilience in the face of normal experiences with shame, loss, failure and rejection that we all need to support each other in learning to face. The following two programs will focus on engaging boys and men in prevention and helping students going to college to be prepared for the social challenges there.
  • In May, Malcolm spoke at a conference at Curry College on New Directions in Violence Prevention and took part in a panel there, all launched through Dr. Jennifer Balboni.

Spring 2015

  • On May 27th, Malcolm was teamed with Scarlett Lewis, mother of a first grade victim at the Newtown shootings, and they spoke as part of the Opening Ceremony of the conference at the State House hosted by the Social Emotional Learning Alliance for Massachusetts. Educators, clinicians, legislators, service providers and other governmental officials joined in a day of education regarding best practices to promote the development of the social emotional thinking and skills of young people in the interest of their proficiency in relationships, career and engaging and safe communities. Keynote speaker Tim Ryan, Representative from Ohio (D) noted: “But if you don’t have the social-emotional skills to function in the world – self-control, resiliency, focus – you’re not entirely free.  We have an obligation to help our young kids be as free as possible in this world by teaching them SEL skills.”
  • Malcolm spoke to a wide variety of corrections educators and practitioners and other educators and clinicians at their conference on New Directions in Violence Prevention. He also took part in a first of its kind efforts in meeting in a Newton home through Second Step with a group of seniors and their parents from Gann Academy in Waltham.  Discussion was engaging and lively in the small group informal setting.
  • Also in May, Malcolm spoke to several hundred students at Swampscott High School where again peer leaders assisted with the program and planned follow up.
  • Mary Dunne and Malcolm Astley visited Elon University in late May where Lauren was remembered as part of the baccalaureate ceremony by Chaplain Fuller. She went on to inspire graduates to take on the challenging matter of boys’ and men’s violence against girls and women and to take action to reform our society in every way possible to prevent such violence and get at its roots.The Lauren Dunne Astley Memorial Fund board voted enthusiastically to support in Lauren’s memory the establishment of an annual lecture or workshop at Elon to focus with students or faculty dynamically on current issues, research or practices related to gender issues and the matter of violence prevention, especially violence by boys’ and men against girls and women and the related challenge of boys’ and men’s violence against each other.  Final details for the initiative are being worked out between Elon University and the board.
  • In April, Malcolm spoke to nearly 1,000 students and staff members at high schools in Medfield and Gloucester with the help of guidance counselors, English teachers, peer student leaders and with the involvement of school and central office administrators, a police chief and mayor. The impact stands to be strong with such coordinated efforts and messages.
  • In late March, Malcolm had the honor of introducing the Geiger Crisis Center White Ribbon Breakfast keynote speaker Dan Lebowitz, Northeastern’s head of the Center for the Study of Sport in Society and home of the Mentors in Violence Prevention Program.  Lauren’s memorial fund has sponsored training for a number of school teams in that program, and the program has been well received at Wayland High School and Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School.

Winter 2014-15

MINI-GRANT PROGRAM

We are pleased to announce the recipients of our second annual mini-grant program to fund dynamic projects promoting the three arenas of our 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 dynamic project ideas in the above areas. 

A total of 15 project proposals were awarded mini-grants:

  • Creation of a webinar on resources for augmenting high school curricula in relationship awareness, communication, being an active bystander and standing with your friend
  • Promoting awareness in and education of young males on how to Stand Up against dating and break-up violence
  • Girls’ LEAP Summer Mentor Program in Dorchester focused on leadership training and effective relationships
  • Funding for a new production by Wayland High School Theatre Ensembles’ graduating seniors, as well as enhancing the Spring musical
  • The purchase of tools for a new medium – 3D printing pens for Wayland High School art classes’ creation of 3D sculptures
  • Campaign and art contest on healthy relationships for Middle School and High School students on Cape Cod
  • The Golden Tones’ Chorus musical outreach program to homeless shelters
  • Mentors in Violence Prevention Training for staff and administrators at Wayland High School
  • The Courage to Care Healthy Relationship Summit for High Schools – at Lincoln-Sudbury High School taking place on March 13
  • Sponsorship of a Wayland teacher’s Boston Marathon run benefitting Embrace a Family in Natick
  • Think Peace Benefit Concert in Memory of Andrew Tavares – violence prevention performance in Dorchester includes music, dance and the launching of an original violence prevention comic book
  • A college student’s thesis project – working on a farm and the creation of a documentary film on sustainable agriculture and impactful daily actions
  • Documentation of the resources and assets now in place in the Wayland Public Schools that support emerging areas of focus from the Wayland School Committee Summit Health and Wellness Group — including self-regulation, stress management, resilience, moral development and character, and other areas of the Health and Wellness Curriculum.
  • Support for REACH Beyond Domestic Violence, a non-profit organization providing safety and support to survivors of abuse while engaging communities to promote healthy relationships and prevent domestic violence.

  • Mary Dunne spoke to the board of directors of the Second Step which partners with adult and child survivors of domestic violence to enhance supportive community and identify pathways to physical and emotional healing, housing, and financial security.
  • Mary also spoke to two large assemblies at Newton North High School and will speak at Dana Hall in March.
  • In March Malcolm spoke in Dr. Emily Rothman’s class at the BU School of Public Health. He also was one of the speakers at the annual White Ribbon Ceremony organized by Jane Doe, Inc. at the State House. He will also help open the second Courage to Care Conference involving about 250 students from 15 area high schools gathering at Lincoln-Sudbury High School on March 13.
  • In February, Malcolm spoke to several hundred students, educators and other professionals associated with schools and support agencies affiliated with the Jersey Battered Women’s Service in Rockaway, New Jersey. Students went on to begin to design campaigns to prevent violence in their own schools.
  • Later in the month Malcolm spoke to students, parents and staff connected with student Mentors in Violence Prevention initiatives at three Cape Cod high schools in Barnstable, Falmouth and Dennis-Yarmouth and associated with Independence House’s work on dating, break up and domestic violence prevention. The evening involved an art contest focused on violence prevention and also dance performed by students from A Lovely Studio.
  • In January, Malcolm spoke to about 600 students and staff at Tabor Academy in Marion, Massachusetts and met with students selected and trained to serve in an innovative peer counseling program which can serve as a model for other schools interested in improving access to support for all students and particularly around issues related to pain, confusion and risks arising around break-ups.
  • In October, Malcolm spoke at the Re-Entry Conference sponsored by the Norfolk County Sheriff Michael Bellotti and his staff.
  • The LDAMF board was involved in judging dating and break up violence prevention campaign materials creatively designed by students at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, in Associate Professor Karen Roehr classes. Three sets of campaign materials were selected for publication.
  • Malcolm spoke to several hundred Melrose High School freshmen and seniors about the challenges of dating and breakup violence and approaches and skills for preventing them. He took part in the walk organized by the Melrose Alliance Against Violence. The community of Melrose has been in the forefront of efforts to build openness and awareness about these matters and preventive practices.Malcolm also spoke to students, parents and staff at Sharon High School under the auspices of HUGS, Help Us Get Safe, a community organization there focused on violence prevention.
  • Malcolm continued brainstorming and planning work with the Lincoln-Sudbury Mentors in Violence Prevention Program coordinated by Lori Hodin as they planned their second annual Courage to Care conference on March 13 for interested high school student and staff teams from Massachusetts.

Fall 2014

  • Joining in September with authors Randy Susan Myers and Marianne Leone when they launched their books respectively, Accidents of Marriage and Jessie: A Mother’s Story, with themes of significant challenges within relationships at Newtonville Book Store.   Malcolm spoke about the challenges of dating and breakup violence.  The bookstore owners and authors kindly donated a portion of their book sales to the memorial fund in Lauren’s memory.
  • Mary Dunne was the keynote speaker at the 16th Annual Teen Symposium by Hope’s Door, held at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY. More than 300 Westchester County teens participated in a diverse, educational day with various speakers and performances. The organization itself provides a vast array of services including a hotline, shelter, safety planning, counseling, support groups, legal referrals, teen dating abuse prevention and community education.
  • As part of a mini-grant funded by the Lauren Dunne Astley Memorial Fund, Malcolm Astley spoke at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, to a graphic design class preparing to create a variety of public campaigns to raise awareness of and prevent dating and break up violence.  Foundation board members will form a jury to review the proposed campaigns and choose one for implementation, thanks to the work of Associate Professor Karen Roehr.
  • After a year of planning, on September 27, Lexington’s Munroe Center for the Arts presented its program of mixed media of artistic presentations to a filled auditorium of over 340 interested and concerned citizens. The program was underwritten by the foundation and supported by several other organizations including Emerge and REACH. Break the Silence, was an Evening of Drama, Poetry, Dance and Music aimed at airing, addressing and preventing boys’ and men’s violence against girls and women.   The program was featured beforehand in a Globe West article and was featured on WBZ TV news that night.  Several towns inquired afterwards about the possibility of the show being reproduced in their locations.  Lex Media is producing a DVD of the event as a possible educational tool and the program was recorded also through foundation funding for the possible creation of a useful documentary.
  • On September 13, CBS 48 Hours rebroadcast Lauren’s story through the documentary on dating and break-up violence entitled Love to Death. The program was also aired on the Discovery Channel.  The program may be viewed through the 48 Hours website.
  • Malcolm spoke at Casa Myrna’s fundraiser at Sandy Burr Country Club along with Casa Myrna Director Stephanie Brown. Casa Myrna provides shelter and services to abuse victims in the Boston area.
  • We have taken initial steps to consult with a film production agency around the possibility of the development of a dynamic video portrayal of an inspiring explanation of just what factors contribute to create boys’ and men’s violence against girls and women and what we might do as a culture the better to address and prevent it. An advisory committee composed of noted scholars and practitioners is in formation, and funding sources are being pursued.
  • In July and August, Malcolm took part in planning meetings with the Program Committee of the Sudbury-Wayland-Lincoln Domestic Violence Round Table focused on developing community gatherings for 2014-15 on domestic violence and the comprehensive new law, the landscape of services available to address domestic and dating violence, brainstorming the ideal components of community response and prevention, and engaging boys and men in the prevention of boys’ and men’s violence against women. The first panel discussion, “Understanding the Landscape for Preventing and Addressing Domestic Violence” took place on October 14 with five panelists.  (see domesticviolenceroundtable.org)
  • Malcolm took part in three different week-long workshops at Boston University for high school students from around the world on Investigative Journalism on the topic of Teen Dating Violence. Students interviewed him after he gave a talk and used the material as part of their research leading to articles on the issues involved.
  • Malcolm worked with Wayland Youth and Family Services staff member Dossie Kahn to review what is in place to support students during the summer, especially seniors who are likely to be experiencing break-ups and are facing the challenges of transition from home. Announcements and flyers sent out to students informed them of available services and phone numbers.  These matters will continue to be reviewed in coming months for next year.

 

Summer 2014


We are thrilled to announce the establishment and funding of a new statewide initiative to pilot programs on effective relationships and violence prevention in 10 Massachusetts schools, grades 5 through 12. This groundbreaking measure was included in the state budget by the state legislature and signed by Governor Deval Patrick. This is a major milestone for Massachusetts, certainly a big step in the right direction.

Malcolm and Mary personally visited many state representatives and all state senators’ offices to offer education on the problem of dating violence and urge support for the program. We see it as a vital step moving toward fulfilling one of our top priorities, appropriate instruction in effective relationships and violence prevention in all Massachusetts schools at all grade levels.

Highlighting this initiative in his formal remarks on the budget, State Senator Stephen M. Brewer, Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, observed that it was supported by nearly all members of the Senate. He also noted that that “when we sent the budget to the clerk yesterday, I made one call. I didn’t make it to my constituents; I didn’t make it to the press; I made it to Malcolm Astley. I had my staff track him down to let him know that…because of the terrible things that happened to their beautiful, only child, Lauren Astley, that $150,000 will be taken around to make sure that young people, when relationships break up, will have better coping mechanisms…so that their daughter would not have died in vain.”

In addition, before ending the legislative session, the legislature passed a comprehensive landmark bill to address and prevent domestic violence through various sectors of our government (see https://malegislature.gov/Bills/188/Senate/S2334.) We are pleased to have been part of the network steadily gaining momentum to address these important and challenging matters regarding violence, and especially boys’ and men’s violence against girls and women, in our society.

    • Mary Dunne has joined the advisory board of REACH, a non-profit organization based in Waltham providing safety and support to survivors of abuse while engaging communities to promote healthy relationships and prevent domestic violence.
    • Malcolm’s recent speaking engagements include addressing hundreds of students on Liberating Boys and Men from Violence: Looking Under the Anger. Appearances at the Rivers School in Weston, Andover High School, and Millbury High School. He also spoke at First Parish Unitarian Universalist church in Sherborn.
    • Malcolm participated in the Casa Myrna Breakfast at the Omni Parker House. Casa Myrna is a Boston-based nonprofit delivering solutions to end domestic and dating violence. He also participated in Jane Doe Inc. Men’s Leadership lunch meeting.
    • Involved in collaborative meetings with The Munroe Center for the Arts, Lexington, MA, in planning for their evening arts presentation through drama, poetry, and dance at 7:30 on Saturday, September 27, Break the Silence for middle, high school, college, young adults, and their parents, teachers, and counselors.  The performance will be on Saturday, September 27, at 7:30 pm, at the Clarke Middle School Auditorium in Lexington.  Visit http://www.munroecenter.org/next-msn-performance.html for information on ticket reservations (which are strongly encouraged).
    • Collaborative work with town agencies, Wayland Youth and Family Services and Wayland Cares on outreach for young people under stress during the summer and particularly high school seniors.
    • Mary and Malcolm were interviewed by Bella English of the Boston Globe for June 5 article.
    • Participated in television and radio interview programs with Jim Braude, Margery Eagen and Emily Rooney focused on dating and break up violence and education for prevention
    • Malcolm was interviewed by students in BU course on investigative journalism with a focus on teen dating violence.

Prior Actions (Fall 2011-Spring 2014) are posted here.