STATEMENT: GALA FOR GUN REFORM RAISES OVER $12,000
SALT LAKE CITY, UT -- On Saturday, April 6th, March For Our Lives Utah hosted its inaugural Gala for Gun Reform. The night included a silent auction featuring student art and donations from local businesses, a selection of local food and desserts, awards to legislators that fought for common-sense gun legislation during the 2019 session, and speakers Mayor For Our Lives Jackie Biskupski, Lauren Hogg (youngest co-founder of March For Our Lives), and Jordan Harb (co-founder of March For Our Lives AZ). Through donations, ticket sales, and the silent auction, our organization was able to raise a tentatively confirmed net $12,523.28.
The money raised will be going towards educational efforts, community outreach, leadership building, and legislative work. The primary purpose for this fundraising will be to support efforts to end the number one source of gun violence for Utah youth: death by suicide. March For Our Lives Utah is planning to train student activists on suicide prevention, and provide education and resources for people fighting to end youth suicide.
Other uses for the money raised will include: subsidizing costs of activities for student organizers, such as transportation and providing food, which allows the organization to open events to a broader population; advertising costs, educational events, and having a presence at community events; doing more direct action community service, such as going out to Stansbury Island to clean up shotgun shells; paying for administrative costs like the organization’s website and P.O. box; and funding a scholarship for student activists in need. All of these things will allow for greater leadership development within the March For Our Lives Utah team and the broader youth community, especially with in-depth training and resources to ensure students that get involved are gaining concrete, measurable skills. The organization also plans to host its own campaign days, where canvassers will receive materials and information. Lastly, it is extremely important that March for Our Lives build a stronger legislative presence in order to affect a greater change on the Hill, so part of the funds raised will go toward training and empowering student lobbyists.
Additionally, $500 of the proceeds will be going towards Art Access, an organization that plays a significant role in helping to eliminate the barriers around disabilities and to create an inclusive world for everyone through art. As our teenage team chose a venue for Saturday’s gala, we failed to ensure the event would be ADA-accessible. For that reason, they will be partnering with Art Access to raise awareness and provide training on how to make events accessible to everyone. Disabilities within the gun violence discussion are often stigmatized as a cause, rather than the consequences of gun violence. This partnership will work to remove this hurtful stigma and help to better support victims of gun violence.
On this partnership, Shandra Benito, Executive Director of Art Access said, “I am so proud of the young activists of March for Our Lives Utah and their response to realizing their event was inaccessible, and publicly and proactively holding themselves accountable. As the Executive Director of Art Access (an arts and disability organization) and a disabled woman, I frequently struggle with events and organizations being inaccessible in my personal and professional life. Additionally, I myself have made many mistakes around accessibility for other people with disabilities in my communities. None of us are immune to making mistakes, making assumptions and not knowing enough. March for Our Lives Utah is making a very generous donation of $500 to Art Access for our advocacy efforts around improving accessibility in our arts and cultural sector and I will be holding training on making your activism and advocacy accessible for their chapter. I hope that others will see their response and leadership around this issue and use it as a model for when similar mistakes are made.”
March For Our Lives Utah is indescribably grateful for the support of the community. Said Jeniel Zimmerman, Orem High School student and member of the 2018-2019 Executive Committee, “It’s humbling and inspiring to see the community come together and support us like this -- i never even imagined that we’d be able to raise this much, so we’re all incredibly grateful. Since we’re completely a volunteer organization, every cent will help us directly fund causes like suicide prevention and domestic violence prevention, and we want to put a special emphasis on inclusivity as it related to these causes.”
Our group is looking forward to continued outreach and training activities as the school year ends, and passing the torch to a new set of student leaders for the 2019-2020 school year.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank our sponsors and donors, without whom this event would not have been possible:
Mayor Jackie Biskupski
Utah House Democrats
Gun Violence Prevention Center of Utah
Dick & Elsa Gary
Big O Doughnuts
Sweet Tooth Fairy
Ken Sanders Rare Books
Hip and Humble
Visit Salt Lake
Salt Lake Film Society
Pig & A Jelly Jar
Utah Pride Center