**Announcement** 540WMain Transitions to A Virtual Organization

540WMain is excited to announce its transition to a virtual organization effective August 1, 2020

Dear Community,

After months of operating remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 540WMain, Inc. is embarking on a new era of growth and development by becoming a virtual organization. This pivot will allow the organization to grow its reach as a regional, national, and global antiracism education brand while simultaneously continuing to serve the historic Susan B. Anthony district located in Rochester, NY.  We are in the process of vacating our founding location and physical building at 540 West Main Street. 540’s new administrative office will be located within Douglass Auditorium at 36 King Street as 540WMain transforms into a virtual global operation.

says Calvin Eaton, founder and director, 540WMain, Inc.

“The entire 540Team has been blown away by the quantity and quality of the work that we have been able to accomplish remotely throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to embarking on this new era of growth and development as a virtual organization.”

540WMain will continue to offer in-person classes and events in collaboration with its numerous community partners inside and outside the West Main corridor.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why is 540WMain becoming a virtual organization now?

As a Black-led organization equity and ownership are very important to us and we had been in a robust contract negotiation process to purchase our founding building from the current owner since 2019 with the support of local law firm Harter Secrest and Emery LLP. These negotiations carried on for many months and continued through the COVID-19 pandemic however in the end we were unable to reach a fair and equitable agreement that was in the best interest of the organization and its future.

Will 540WMain stop in-person classes and events?

Absolutely not! The shift to virtual during COVID-19 has confirmed for us that over the last four years we have successfully created an education brand without borders as well as a community of supporters that are not confined to any specific location. 540WMain will continue to offer in-person classes and events in collaboration with its numerous community partners inside and outside the Susan B. Anthony neighborhood. Of course, as we work through COVID-19 in-person classes will be contingent on the safety of our team and the community as well as aligning with state and local regulations on social distancing.

What does this shift to virtual mean for 540WMain’s mission?

540WMain will continue to serve the West Main corridor and historic Susan B. Anthony neighborhood. We will continue to create and curate dynamic educational programming based on the needs of the local Rochester community and beyond. Not much will change about how we carry out our mission except that we will no longer have a physical address at 540 West Main Street.

How will this shift help 540WMain grow?

Being remote over the last four months has allowed exponential growth in all areas and allowed our team more space and time for fundraising, DEI consulting, grant writing, program design, staff development, and board development. We are currently working on a website redesign, a digital online forum for members, and creating two full-time staff positions. This virtual transition will allow us to connect with more communities around the country and world.

Will 540WMain consider purchasing another building? 

For sure. If and when an opportunity to purchase a property arises we will consider that opportunity.

How will members be affected by this change?

Our monthly sustaining members will receive more engaging and dynamic digital content as well as the perks that are available to those that support at the highest tier. We are working on a redesigned website that will include additional ways to connect and build a community for our members.

Will 540WMain still work with volunteers and interns? 

Yes. 540WMain will continue to seek the support of community volunteers and paid interns. Many of these opportunities will exist remotely but we will also continue to work solicit in volunteers for in-person neighborhood events and outreach.

What is happening with the 2020 Gentrification Conference?

The 2020 Gentrification conference is being re-imagined in the wake of COVID-19. We will be releasing details about the conference to the community in the coming weeks.

How can I support 540WMain during this time? 

Your support goes directly to providing new, dynamic & affordable class content, the planning of a rigorous antiracism facilitation training program, and the hiring of a grant writer.

1) Join our growing membership base at patreon.com/540wmain
2) Contribute to our ongoing annual fund at rally.org/540wmain

  1. Visit our blog for over 700 social justice focused posts from our Founding Director, contributing writer Chris Thompson, and various guest writers.
  2. Morethanisms podcast a series created by Calvin Eaton that unpacks social and cultural issues that impact black and non-black millennials of color.
  3. Discuss books relating to antiracism in our Unpacking Book Discussion Series. Join at facebook.com/groups/540unpacking
  4. Check out our on-demand class library to learn about structural racism, environmental justice, and more.

Do you have more questions about our virtual transition? Submit a question below or via email info540westmain@gmail.com

Published by Calvin Eaton

(he/his/him) Calvin Eaton is a disabled community educator, content creator, and social entrepreneur, whose area of expertise includes antiracism, equity, justice, instructional design, and program development. In 2016 Mr. Eaton founded 540WMain, Inc. a non-profit online and community-based organization for accessible education and events that promote justice for all.

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