Any donation to this project on paypal should be earmarked IWEAP.

Femspec's Intergenerational Women's Education and Advocacy Project

PRINCIPAL DIRECTOR: Dr. Batya Weinbaum
1610 Rydalmount Road
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118
batyawein@aol.com
216 233-0567

Request Total: $1,480,000

Abstract: The purpose of this grant is to provide employment in publishing and the arts. 7-10% of student loans go into default after graduation from college, and women graduating with degrees in English and Women's Studies are unable to find employment after months of job searching even after obtaining college degrees. Over half of American families are now living with at least one individual receiving support from social services, the highest ever in the history of the US. This program will provide a service not only in creating jobs for women, but by preparing them to go on to positions with experience which immediately after graduating from college, they are not able to offer.

Femspec's Intergenerational Women's Education and Advocacy Project

PRINCIPAL DIRECTOR: Dr. Batya Weinbaum

Request Total: $1,480,000.00

Funding is sought for an Intergenerational Women's Education and Advocacy Project (IWEAP) to be organized and operated under the auspices of Femspec (see Femspec.org). To be located in Cleveland Heights, OH, where Femspec is already incorporated and registered with the state, the project will initially be receiving funds fiscally sponsored through the non-profit channel of the Federation of Intentional Communities. Our mission and proposed projects, outlined below, are supported by complete time line and budget. If interested in supporting or helping to find support for this project, in any way, please contact femspec@aol.com.

I. Mission.

The primary mission will be job creation in publishing and the arts. At this moment, according to the Department of Labor Statistics, unemployment among women has reached alarming proportions, as has unemployment among recent literature graduates, many of whom have returned to college during the recent recession hoping to emerge with marketable skills able to obtain employment. Though women have excelled in their academics and earned the majority of degrees conferred in recent years, the likelihood of job placement in any reasonable amount of time is dismal. In the publishing industry today, there are only enough jobs held by women to account for just 7% of the approximate 2.7 million women who have graduated with related degrees since 1970. Gender disparities in the workplace and a diminished economy makes earning a living and accommodating debt responsibilities difficult for all women, but especially so for vulnerable groups of women such as recent graduates, women returning to the workforce after extended leave, women over age 55, single mothers, and women in Academe. Our project can attempt to offer a solution. Although reaching only a limited number of women, perhaps 16 in the first three years, perhaps we can offer a model of a half-way house system that could be offered by universities and colleges to increase the ability of placing its recent graduates, especially women, who seem to be glutting the market and spending long months on the job market with no success.

Rationale: As an online instructor at Empire State College Center for Distance Learning of State University of New York, nearly every semester students ask me to serve as references as they graduate and seek employment. Sometimes I ask to see the materials these students submit to prospective employers. I discover that although they have just graduated with skills, they do not have sufficient experience to obtain interviews. After several semesters of agreeing to serve as a reference but never being contacted, I began to offer internships on the journal that I founded and edit giving women the opportunity to improve the possibility of employment. I also currently offer positions as course assistants in two courses, Myth and Modern Life, and Image of Women in Western Civilization.

Situated as the editor of Femspec, a journal I founded in 1997 and sustained and nourished as the editor-in-chief since its first publication in 1999, I intend through the expansion of the infrastructure of IWEAP to

1) provide more sustainability to Femspec's internship program by offering payment for the work;

2) offer advice in how to name skills interns are acquiring so they might better market themselves;

3) provide support in that marketing process;

4) use the training of those who come in as interns to get paid services performed to operate the journal;

5) develop a series of paid positions to offer an increasing number of stable jobs to those whose skills and competency are evident but after a period of training with us are still not successful in external job search;

6) offer employment to women in their 50s who are not getting the interviews in the job market, or the offers suitable to the level of their levels of achievement and skills.

7) offer re-entry training and assistance, as in working with many of the older returning women now thrust into the frightening role of needing to be the family's primary earner, ill-preparedness in inability to take direction and to have a realistic understanding of the nature of work after coming from volunteerism and privilege have impeded success in work even as their husbands have become unemployed and needdd them to work.

My ability to foster such a program stems from my years of editor of the journal, in which I worked with students as interns, graduate students, and work exchange students as well as designing special courses for students who wanted credit for working on the journal, through Cleveland State University, Kenyon College, and the Honors Program at Kent State University.

In addition, I worked as Director of Developmental Research of Project Chance, a FIPSE project of the Women's Studies Program and Women's Center of Brooklyn College; and as a job-readiness counselor in a CETA line at the Women's Liberation Center in Manhattan.

In 2010-11, I utilize the skills of two recent Empire State graduates who were my former students, and have noticed the intergenerational mentoring process at work that clearly bringing a new dimension into the vitality of the journal as they each brought new ideas and people on board. I wish to capitalize on that dynamic, but need support to do so. One of those interns has gone on to a job and all but one of the interns are also employed meaning they are volunteering their labor for the journal, two in addition to completing their doctoral work.

My prior experience in start-up of a Angel Fish Press, a poetry chapbook publishing house I initiated and ran with state funds in Vermont in the early 1990s, provides me with some of the entrepreneurial skills to offer contests and publishing projects we intend to run. In addition, I initiated Red Serpent Arts, a start-up company in which I took women's art to Indonesia and India and located women's cooperatives to put the designs onto handmade products such as silk or journals, and imported the wearable arts and accessories made in this process to sell at booths at festivals and fairs for a number of years. I developed this enterprise with the input of COSE, and learned some of the mechanics of small business start-up including import/export, inventory management, advertisement, and promotion.

When working with this project, I was creating work for women who were wives of migrant rice workers in Indonesia, who would otherwise have to leave their children to go work as domestics in the United Arab Republic; or for women in Varanasi, India, who were HIV positive. Simultaneously, I was creating income to support the production and publication of the journal Femspec.

At this juncture, I wish to create jobs to work on the journal and offshoot products here, because the need for jobs, given the proportion of our economic crisis, has come home. Cleveland is now the second poorest city in the US, and the project will attract more women to move here to work, as well as to employ women here who will not have to leave the city to seek work, contributing to the well-known problem of brain-drain.

II. Projects.

In order to work, the project must be able to expand beyond the journal although keeping the successful journal afloat will be an initial building block, giving women the experience of coming into something with ten years of successful functioning. The components that we aim to develop are listed below.

A. Ongoing publication of the journal Femspec. We currently publish twice a year and are completing our eleventh volume. Already widely read, with an international board of scholars, activists and writers, the journal is indexed and abstracted as well as made available in full text in various academic library data bases such as EBSCO, GALE, PROQUEST, HB Wilson which just merged with EBSCO, the MLA Bibliography, the Humanities Index, and all the Science Fiction and Fantasy search engines and indexes.

We have been written up in numerous Cleveland papers, and are mentioned in literary magazines, librarians' periodicals, and in tenure reviews for academics; our articles are used in academic studies. We are widely recognized for having made a major impact on the field in terms of especially increasing awareness of writings by women of color in fantasy and science fiction.

The journal has many more special issues in process--on divination, myth, motherhood, aging and disabilities.

As tenure lines have diminished to about 20% of all the academic workforce, the percentage of faculty who are working without the sort of institutional support which used to come along with a funded position--e.g. the funding of one's projects by the institution--has gone up to 80%; no institution I have worked in has given money to the journal since I left my tenure-track job when the line in multiculturalism was eliminated at Cleveland State in 2003, although we have just received an organizational grant from Science Fiction Research Association and have continuous private donors..

B. New start-up of the publishing imprint Femspec Books. So far this imprint has published a trial run of one full-length novel in the genre that Femspec usually publishes and a small how-to book also in the transformational arts. Already, we have authors expressing interest in publishing books. The journal is starting this press because after ten years positioned in the publishing business, bringing out 600 plus newly developing authors, we have been approached numerous times with full length manuscripts. Thus we feel are uniquely situated to bring out people who will already have an audience with us (our readers) and to whom critics and reviewers will already turn, on our recommendation.

Not only will we increase our profits, but we will enlarge our impact on the literary universe, which was our goal in the first place--to broaden the understanding of the speculative genre, to make it more inclusive, which most feel we have done.

With book sales having gone down 17% in the last year, jobs in publishing are down. We have the capacity to pursue ebooks and wish to take advantage of this in the market as well as to create the jobs that are dwindling in the publishing world as people go into self-publishing.