The Class of 2010-2011

2010 Annual Report (PDF)

Davis-Putter honors the memory and legacy of Marilyn Buck, political prisoner, poet, civil rights and anti-imperialist activist and a 2003 and 2004 grantee, who died August 3, 2010. She wrote the following words of support for our grantees and all student activists…

‘Delights me to see all the folks studying, working for social justice. No matter what occurs politically, even the worst, there will always be those who will rise to resist injustice and to imagine a world where humanity lives in harmony with nature and itself, quite an undertaking which requires immense imagination and creativity. Carry on!’ — Marilyn

Grantees imagine a world where all are free

Davis-Putter grantees work creatively each day to break the chains of economic injustice, racism and all forms of oppression and repression. They imagine a world of true liberation, equality and peace and are building movements for systemic change.

Photo of Ari Lev FornariAri Lev Fornari organizes foreclosure eviction blockades, works to redevelop brownfields into affordable housing in Boston, and leads a chapter of Taanit Tzedek, Jewish Fast for Gaza, which creates solidarity between Jewish leaders and the people of Palestine while continuing rabbinical studies.

Photo of Valerie FranciscoValerie Francisco creates international solidarity and works for the rights of Filipino immigrant workers as a leader of GABRIELA USA, an alliance of progressive women’s organizations in the Philippines, and conducts participatory research with Filipino domestic workers toward completion of a PhD at CUNY.

Photo of Melissa GilbargMelissa Gilbarg is an economic and racial justice organizer who builds power for systemic change with the Coalition Against Poverty through housing, education, living wage and voter empowerment campaigns, while seeking a master’s in social work at Boston University.

Photo of Fnann KeflezighiFnann Keflezighi builds multi-ethnic student coalitions to create accessible education for poor students and students of color and to challenge institutional, racist policies and actions while working on a bachelor’s degree in Ethnic Studies at UC San Diego.

Photo of Felipe MatosFelipe Matos was a key organizer and participant in the 2010 “Trail of Dreams” walk from Miami to DC, and continues to mobilize support for immigration reform, access to education and an end to student deportations while studying economics at St. Thomas University.

Photo of Rachel MattesonRachel Matteson works in coalition on campus and in the community against US occupations in the Middle East, and is committed to building a mass movement challenging the exploitation of workers and the environment while studying Global Security at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Photo of Alberta NellsAlberta Nells began speaking out at the age of 14 with the Save the Peaks Coalition and then co-founded Youth of the Peaks to educate about the negative impact of ski resort expansion on Navajo land, and will begin a degree in Indigenous Liberal Studies at the Institute of American Indian Arts.

Photo of Claudia O'BrienClaudia O’Brien mobilizes support for immigrant and worker rights with unions and community grassroots groups, and is part of a growing democratic and participatory student movement demanding a public education for all while studying Political Science at Hunter College.

Photo of Silvia Rodriguez VegaSilvia Rodriguez Vega organizes for immigrant rights and mobilizes weekly protests against oppressive conditions created by Sherriff Joe Arpaio and the state of Arizona, created Teatro Nopalero, a Theatre of the Oppressed inspired project, and is beginning a master’s degree in Arts Education at Harvard University.

Photo of Heron RussellHeron Russell, who created coalition between her high school Peace Club and community peace groups to organize civil disobedience at recruitment centers, educate students about alternatives to the military and mobilize protests against the war on Iraq, is beginning Peace and Justice Studies at Wellesley College.

Photo of Mayuran TiruchelvamMayuran Tiruchelvam is a film student at Columbia and storyteller of struggles, bringing lessons of grassroots activism to the filmmaking world while supporting Domestic Workers United through Regeneracion, a movement education project that he co-founded for children of activists.

Photo of Alicia ViraniAlicia Virani organizes to dismantle the prison industrial complex through campaigns to end police violence and disproportionate imprisonment of LGBT people, communities of color and youth, and co-founded INCITE! LA and Imprenta Transgender Law Project while completing a law degree at UCLA.

Photo of Shunya WadeShunya Wade is a spoken word artist who challenges racist actions and policies, organizes for affordable accessible higher education and works in coalition with the Native American Student Alliance on repatriation issues while studying English at UC San Diego.


This year the Fund awarded a grant to a six-person college education committee at Lakeland Correctional Facility in Michigan, established and maintained by prisoners. The group advocates for educational opportunities within the prison system and encourages fellow inmates to participate – “promoting real freedom through academics”. As many of our grantees work to abolish the prison industrial complex, we also support the efforts of these men to radically change the system from the inside.

Photo of Donald Bolton Donald Bolton studies Sociology and Criminal Justice while assisting fellow inmates with writing legal challenges.


Photo of Robert Coleman Robert Coleman is committed to building the prison college program while completing a degree in Sociology.



Photo of Matt Martone Matthew Martone seeks to transform the prison from “a warehouse for men into an academy that empowers them” while studying Psychology and Business.



Photo of Jamie Meade Jamie Meade is involved with community groups seeking prison and judicial reform while pursuing a degree in Sociology and Criminal Justice.


Photo of Bruce Micheals Bruce Micheals is writing a book on college in prison and leads the College Education Committee while studying Sociology and Business.


Photo of Ahmad Nelson Ahmad Nelson is seeking a Sociology degree hoping to gain more knowledge in conflict resolution and dynamics of race, class and gender to be more effective in providing mediation with fellow inmates.