This past October, Veatch grantee Make the Road-NY held its “Dignity, Community, and Power Awards” Gala, an annual celebration to honor leaders within our community fighting to achieve dignity and justice for immigrant and working-class communities. This year marks the organization’s 25th anniversary—the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock (UUCSR) has been a proud grant partner of the organization for 20 of those years. 

As part of the celebrations, Make the Road-NY honored the organization’s two co-founders, Oona Chatterjee and Andrew Friedman—who as law students began the organization in a church basement in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Over a period of 15 years, Oona and Andrew co-led and built the fledgling organization into the leading immigrant-led community organizing group in New York. During this time, the two helped design, create, and provide ongoing support to two small public schools catering to immigrant families, built vital student and parent organizing programs within the organization, and supported the creation of citywide and national youth organizing coalitions to advance school reform in the state.

During the gala, Make the Road displayed the impactful video below, which discusses the organization’s 25 year history and Oona and Andrew’s pivotal role growing the organization into one of the most powerful community-based and advocacy organizations in New York. 

Through the Veatch Program, UUCSR has been a steady supporter of Make the Road-NY and its critical work. Our program’s unrestricted, long-term, general operating support provided Oona and Andrew the freedom to conduct the time-intensive work to build Make the Road-NY into a powerful, statewide operation. Last year we were thrilled to invite Make the Road-NY’s current co-director, José Lopez, to co-deliver the sermon for Veatch Sunday. José was once a teenage member of the organization and is another example of the impact of long-term investment in multigenerational leadership development.  

The Veatch Program also recently made a mini-grant to Make the Raod-NY to join a cohort of  40 organizers—which included representatives from other New York-based Veatch grantees—to Brazil to learn about transformational models for change and to build international bridges with likeminded organizers.

For more on Make the Road’s history and work, read this write up from Nuevayorquinos, who also premiered the above video.