Bread & Roses Community Fund, which supports community-based groups pursuing racial and economic equity, recently made $160,000 in grants to 16 local grassroots groups dedicated to supporting women, girls, trans and gender non-conforming people in making societal change.
The $10,000-a-piece awards stem from the group’s Gender Justice Fund, which gave its inaugural grants in 2018. A cohort of 16 people of varying race, class, age and gender were trained around systems of oppression and grassroots fundraising to raise money for the initiatives. The team, with support from Bread & Roses staff, then decided on organizations to receive the grants.
“We believe that by supporting grassroots organizing often ignored by conventional funders, we can overcome systems of oppression, including transphobia, homophobia and sexism,” said Bread & Roses Executive Director Casey Cook. “Many of the Gender Justice Fund grantees are doing work in intersectional LGBTQ spaces that is vitally needed and too often ignored.”
This year’s recipients include Sisterly LOVE, a Mazzoni Center program for and by trans women; the Womanist Working Collective, a group of Black women and gender-nonconforming folks identifying grassroots solutions to community problems; and Sappho and LaRoyce Foundation, which creates a space for LGBTQ folks and people of color to build community and change language in Pennsylvania’s domestic violence laws to include queer couples and gender-nonconforming people.
Sappho Fulton, CEO and executive director of the Sappho and LaRoyce Foundation, founded the nonprofit in 2017 and has received the Gender Justice Fund grant two years in a row. Fulton, who is a lesbian, said Bread & Roses “sees things that no other organization tends to see” and gives folks striving to make a difference a chance to succeed.
“It was bigger than getting a form from the government saying, ‘You’re an official nonprofit. … It was like ‘You believe in me, I believe in me,’” she added. “It was so rewarding to just have that support.”
With the 2018 grant, Fulton buckled down on organizing panel discussions and events for women of color and LGBTQ folks to discuss abusive relationships they’d experienced and learn about setting boundaries and creating healthy interactions with partners.
This year, Fulton is using the funds to take her organization to the next level.
The nonprofit recently opened a four-bed crisis drop-in center in West Philadelphia for women experiencing domestic violence — dubbed Harriet’s Sisters as an ode to Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad — which the grant will help support, Fulton said. The group is also working on an initiative to explore how the LGBTQ community overlaps with Juneteenth, the June 19 holiday that commemorates the abolition of slavery.
“LGBTQ people weren’t called LGBTQ people at that time. They were there, but we didn’t have all the labels and the spaces and the freedom to be who we are today,” Fulton told PGN. “So LGBTQ Juneteenth is a first in history and it is happening June 2020 at the William Way Center.”
Fulton is in the process of registering her nonprofit as a philanthropic foundation in order to provide financial support to other community changemakers. She also has plans to meet with politicians including State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta and Sen. Sharif Street in 2020 to discuss the push for more inclusive and effective Pennsylvania laws against domestic violence, Fulton said.
Cook told PGN the grant made to the Sappho and LaRoyce Foundation supports its “ongoing work hosting safe, holistic healing spaces for lesbian, queer, transgender, bisexual” folks and women of color.
“The oppression of women is too often ignored by our movement, even though it is inextricably bound up with the systems of white supremacy and extractive capitalism that we are struggling against,” Cook added. “The Gender Justice Fund grantees are working to address these struggles in substantive ways.”
Those experiencing domestic violence can contact Harriet’s Sisters crisis center at 610-492-0590 or Fulton at 267-756-0400.