Make the Road New York

Award Recipients - 1999

Oona Chatterjee, Andrew Friedman, Co-Founders


Make the Road by Walking was founded by lawyer-activist Oona Chatterjee and Andrew Friedman to support organizing among the unemployed, undocumented and working poor in Brunswick, Brooklyn.  In 1997, when federal welfare law changes went into effect in New York, hundreds of the poor immigrants had food stamps cut or shapely reduced because they were mistakenly ruled ineligible.  In response, Ms. Chatterjee and Mr. Friedman held legal rights workshops at a Brooklyn church.  By 1998, Make the Road by Walking had its own location, creating an important neighborhood center where residents go for services, training and social activism.  
At Make the Road by Walking, a legal clinic provides information, advocacy, representation and referrals about emergency food, shelter and assistance with public benefits.  Residents attend legal rights training sessions on welfare, disability benefits, immigration, housing, domestic violence and the criminal justice system.  They develop advocacy skills, promote collective action and hold local institutions accountable by organizing campaigns that address issues ranging from lack of translation service in neighborhood welfare center to abuses of undocumented immigrant workers.  Residents also organize for a healthier community targeting high asthma and lead poisoning rates in children as well as the need for parks and other open spaces.

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