Dear Friends,

We live in a world of stark contrasts. 

Military spending has doubled over the last decade. Wealthy people and powerful corporations benefit from federal tax rates that are lower than they have been in 60 years. With less money coming into federal coffers and more going to the military, education and other community needs are increasingly underfunded. Recent census data show a rise in extreme poverty – more than 20 million people living on income that is half or less of the federal poverty line. Economic injustice is reaching further into mainstream America than at any time since the Great Depression.

This historic level of income inequality has prompted thousands across the US to create the Occupy Together movement. At the American Friends Service Committee, we are heartened by this movement’s potential to bring change through nonviolent actions. You can read more about our support for Occupiers in many cities—providing offices as places for respite, helping with supplies, and giving trainings in nonviolent tactics.   

As during past social movements, AFSC is proud to support those working for universal rights and justice, challenging a broken economic system that puts profit before human rights and dignity. We have a long history of supporting communities through crises. We know how critical it is to maintain the safety nets that carry good people through hard times.

AFSC is lifting up the voice of youth through the second If I Had a Trillion Dollars Youth Film Festival. Along with our partners at the National Priorities Project, we invite young people to offer alternative visions to the distorted economic choices that come from spending nearly $1 trillion every year on the US military, more than $1 trillion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and giving more than $1 trillion in tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans.  The deadline for submissions is January 15, 2012 and we urge you to share this opportunity with anyone who may be interested in this exciting project.

My colleagues and I are encouraged by your support and confidence in AFSC’s multi-faceted programs that build peace by working for social justice. Please continue to stand with us.

Shan Cretin