The Bread & Roses Community Fund has opened applications for the one-time Gender Justice Fund, a $10,000 grant to be awarded to organizations working to elevate the lives of women, girls, transgender or gender-nonconforming Philadelphia-area residents.
The deadline to apply is May 25.
An informational meeting May 8 brought a full house of nonprofit representatives to the offices of Bread & Roses, which organizes donors to fund community-based groups.
In the mix was Phoebe Jones, coordinator of the nonprofit Women in Dialogue, which runs the Crossroads Women’s Center in Germantown that focuses on child welfare.
“We deal with whatever issues people come to the center with, and it all boils down to poverty,” said Jones. “Mothers are having their kids taken because of poverty, not because of abuse and neglect. And almost everyone has some interaction with the criminal-justice system.”
Crossroads’ community engagement illustrates the type of work Gender Justice Fund is looking to award money to: community organizing around issues such as reproductive justice, gender-based violence, workers’ rights, mass incarceration and health care.
Rana Fayez, founder of YallaPunk, a Middle-Eastern and North-African culture festival, is also planning to apply for the grant. Fayez is seeking funds for this year’s festival.
“We’re looking at Bread & Roses because traditional funding does not really fund organizations like ours,” she said.
“We had an event last year that was very successful. But we’re all just punk-rock kids, right? So, we were turned down for funding from a number of organizations last year.”
Fayez hopes the reputation of Bread & Roses as a “not-so-traditional” foundation will give YallaPunk a fair shot.
Although YallaPunk’smission speaks to the Gender Justice Fund’s guidelines, “providing an intersectional space free of transphobia and queerphobia,” a Bread & Roses representative said healing- and arts-based work constitutes “gray spaces” in community organizing.
During the information session, Director of Programs Aarati Kasturirangan urged arts and healing groups to sell their work at a community level.
“There are organizations that we have funded doing that work and others that we have not. We’re open to it, but I think you have to really crystalize that for people.”
Applicants such as ArtWell, whose community engagement is entirely arts-based, or the Transequity Project, which offers support for trans individuals, will have to make the argument for how they’re benefitting not just their members but also their neighborhoods.
Kasturirangan advised that the best bet for winning the competition is to show how work over the coming year represents an organization’s potential progress.
“We’re not funding specific projects; we’re funding you. You get this grant; you decide what to do with it. You can use it to pay your rent, you can use it to keep the lights on, you can use it to pay stipends, you can use it for whatever you want to. What we need to know is that you as an organization are committed to using community organizing to make a change.”