The American Studies Association, as represented by its National Council, embarked on planning period this past year in response to the difficult realities we face as our profession and the fields we share in common are increasingly pressured by neoliberalized college and university administrations, cuts to funding, and federal and state policies that try to limit and even endanger our work.
Against this backdrop, the ASA Solidarity Fund was launched to allow the association to facilitate the transfer of resources – between teachers and students; emerging scholars and more established ones; public practitioners or activists and academics; and (especially) those precariously situated with those employed with greater stability – to support and strengthen our membership.
An immediate goal for 2019 was set to raise enough funds to provide conference travel grants for precarious members who receive little to no professional development support from their institutions or employers.
By July, the association had raised more than $20,000. Initial gifts for the fund were generously provided by past presidents of the association. Through the introduction of the fund, member contributions to the association grew by 200% over the previous fiscal year. Additionally, more lifetime members donated (by sheer numbers) than any other ASA constituency group.
As of October 31, 2019, the Solidarity Fund had received more than 300 donations.
The Solidarity Fund opened this summer for applications by contingent faculty, un/underemployed members, community-based scholars and scholar activists, and undergraduate students. By the priority deadline of July 31, 75% of available travel grants had been filled.
This week in Honolulu, the National Council will review plans for the Solidarity Fund in 2020.
Ahead of their meeting, the Council and its Executive Committee thanks contributing members and friends of the association who have helped materialize the ambitions brought to the Solidarity Fund in Atlanta at this time last year. As a token of their appreciation, the Executive Committee invites contributing members to attend the Lifetime Member Reception, to be held on Friday at 6pm in Wai Lani Waterfall Foyer of the Honolulu Convention Center.
Above and beyond the financial support generated to date, the presence of the Fund has focused the resources of the association toward making the fight against precarity a priority. By organizing to implement the 2019 grant program, the ASA has started to develop an infrastructure to better understand how contingency is impacting early career scholars and teachers – and the field of American studies more generally.
Members and friends of the association who are interested in helping to sustain the importance of the Solidarity Fund beyond the Honolulu meeting are invited to contact the Office of the Executive Director to become more involved.
Donations to the Solidarity Fund can be made online or by texting “solidarity” to 44-321 from any mobile device.
Please note: the ASA is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization chartered in the District of Columbia. All donations are tax-deductible for U.S. taxpayers.
Community announcements and events are services that are offered by the ASA to support the organizing efforts of critical constituency groups. They do not reflect the decisions or actions of the association’s governance bodies, the National Council or Executive Committee. Questions should be directed to the committee, caucus, or chapter that has authored and posted this notice.