Social Justice Alliance of Cass County to become nonprofit

CASSOPOLIS — A newly formed group in Cass County will be working to achieve nonprofit status.

Thursday, the Social Justice Alliance of Cass County voted to apply to become a 501c3 organization, which would make the organization recognized as a tax-exempt charitable organization by the Internal Revenue Service. The designation would also allow the organization to solicit funds.

“This is just a good thing to do,” said Skip Dyes, chair of the alliance. He also serves as a Cass County commissioner. “We will be looking to solicit some grants, so this will benefit that and also put the board into perspective.”

The Social Justice Alliance of Cass County began meeting in early June following the death of George Floyd, an African American man from Minneapolis. Floyd was killed after former police officer Derek Chauvin, a white man, held a knee to his neck for nearly eight minutes.

In response, the group hopes to provide Cass County residents with education regarding racial issues and social justice. Its statement of purpose reads: “to elevate social justice and understanding in Cass County.”

The alliance hosts public meetings at 9 a.m. Thursdays at the Cass County administration building, 120 N. Broadway St., Cassopolis. In addition to these meetings, the alliance plans to host community discussions on many topics related to race, including slavery, bias, white privilege, housing, education, criminal justice, economic opportunity, health, youth and reparations.

To facilitate these discussions, the group plans to bring in experts to discuss these topics, while also encouraging community input. Members also plan to invite the schools, churches, civic groups, medical groups, law enforcement, businesses and more to discuss racial equality in Cass County.

Dyes said the funds the alliance would be able to acquire as a 501c3 would help the organization cover the costs of speaker fees and other expenses associated with hosting events. He said the group plans to have initial paperwork for the 501c3 ready for review by its next meeting and hopes to have everything in place in the coming weeks.

Now that the group is fully formed with a name, purpose and plan forward to becoming a 501c3, Dyes said he is excited about the work it can do, and is hopeful that the community will begin to participate in with the group.

“I’m feeling really good about the alliance,” Dyes said. “We are going to have a nucleus of people working together, and I think we can get a lot done here in the county. I think it is going to be great.”

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