Digital Commonwealth

Economic Research and Action Project (New Haven, Conn.) Records, 1965

University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries Special Collections and University Archives

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The Economic Research and Action Project (ERAP) was a community organizing project sponsored by the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Begun in 1963, SDS activists began working in low-income urban neighborhoods to help residents come together to identify and agitate for shared needs. While practical goals included education and advocacy for welfare rights, youth programing such as free school lunches, and increasing minority participation in local politics, the program as a whole had grand aspirations of abolishing poverty and ending racial inequality through an interracial and community organized movement of the poor in America. The largest and longest lasting projects were located in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, and Newark, but multiple cities had ERAP groups. While none achieved an ongoing interracial movement of the poor, all had lasting effects in bringing minority and urban resident voices to the SDS platform, in teaching the skills, obstacles, and possibilities of community organizing, and in encouraging individuals, both from SDS and local neighborhoods, to participate and engage with diverse people in seeking social change. New Haven ERAP Records are a small but rich collection, mainly consisting of three summer of 1965 issues of the ERAP Newsletter from the New Haven Project. Additional materials include a clipping from the April 30, 1965 Life issue featuring photographs of New Haven ERAP members working in a "slum called The Hill;" two printed photographs from LIFE not used in the article; and a written report and supporting research interview on the failure of a New Haven corporation, Community Progress, Inc. to provide good services and comply with the requirements of the Economic Opportunity Act and the Community Action Program Guide.

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