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Maura Clarke - Ita Ford Center (MCIF Center)

Award Recipients - 2000

Sister Mary Burns, Founder and Co-Director

In 1980, El Salvador erupted into civil war when an army coup aborted the results of a democratic election.  Four North American women, including two New Yorkers, were raped and killed by government-backed soldiers for working among the poor.  In 1993, Sister Mary Burns opened The Maura Clark-Ita Ford Center (MCIF) in Bushwick, Brooklyn in honor of the two women.  MCIF is an education and training center by and for women that works on three levels – personal development and education, economic self-sufficiency and community change- to empower women toward economic independence.  MCIF provides opportunities for individual growth, for developing self esteem and for acquiring education and life skills that enable women to realize their potential and contribute to the community.  
The MCIF Learning Center serves about 90 women yearly who take classes in literacy, English a Second Language, GED< sewing, crafts, and leadership training.  In 1998, Sister Burns opened MCIF Works to focus on welfare-to-work training.  This site combines job training, production and marketing in cooking, crafts and sewing and has contracts with vendors for products produced by the program participants.  MCIF Works also patterns with other agencies to provide training in home health care, computers and internships.  MCIF is piloting a small business development project for women ready to form a micro enterprise.  It assists with business plans, technical assistance and loans.

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