Author Archives: Bread Roses

Grantee Profile: Agape African Senior Center

The Agape African Senior Center, a Black-led, Black-centered Organizing Fund and Immigration Justice Fund grantee, was founded in 2000 by immigrants and refugees of African descent. Their mission, in the words of founder Rev. Dr. John Jallah, is to “organize to help aging refugees and immigrants cope with life.” In the beginning, Agape members met once a week to develop an understanding of how government worked in Philadelphia. A 2004 grant from Bread & Roses Community Fund was the Center’s first source of funding.

Elderly African and Caribbean immigrants and refugees living in Philadelphia face economic, cultural, social, and language barriers. The Agape African Senior Center’s English as a Second Language classes, residency and citizenship assistance, skills trainings, and peer support group aim to build a base to take collective action.

“The first win has been to get senior citizens out of their homes and to participate,” Jallah says. The Center’s programming enables community members to independently navigate the city, addressing the isolation often experienced by elderly immigrants and refugees. 

The Center’s inclusion campaign calls on the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging to re-direct funding to community-led organizations that meet the specific needs of aging African and Caribbean immigrants and refugees, who face discrimination accessing health care and other services available to seniors. The campaign hopes to ensure that the “10,000 aging African and Caribbean immigrants are treated like other aging Philadelphians,” says Jallah.

Members of the Agape African Senior Center advocate for their needs at the city level by serving on the newly formed African Caribbean Advisory Body as well as the Mayor’s Commission on African and Caribbean Immigrant Affairs. “Our community already has organizations,” says Jallah. “Our community should be empowered to serve our people and our refugees.” 

Welcoming Susan Schewel and Caitlin Quigley

New Board Member: Susan Schewel

When Susan Schewel moved to Philadelphia 30 years ago, Bread & Roses was the first place she volunteered. Her continued support has been motivated by her belief in the power of Philadelphia grassroots organizations to create change. A women’s health activist, she was as an OB/GYN nurse, a women’s health nurse practitioner, and the executive director of the Women’s Medical Fund from 2003 to 2017. Susan has worked in patient care, research, policy, management, and fundraising. She served on the Philadelphia Board of Health, the National Women’s Health Network board, and the Congregation Mishkan Shalom board, and is excited to bring her knowledge and skills to the Bread & Roses board.

New Staff Member: Caitlin Quigley

Caitlin Quigley joins the staff as director of communications & development. She started volunteering at Bread & Roses in 2012 and served on staff in 2014 and 2015. Caitlin co-founded the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance, and in 2016 she was named a winner of the Knight Cities Challenge for her project 20 Book Clubs → 20 Cooperative Businesses, which organized 180 people to study economic cooperation and then form their own cooperative businesses. Caitlin holds a bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University and a Master of Arts in social justice and community organizing from Prescott College. She is delighted to return to staff and would love to talk to you about moving money to movements for change.

Independence Public Media Foundation forms partnership with Bread & Roses for media justice

We are delighted to announce a new partnership with Independence Public Media Foundation (IPM)! IPM made an $800,000 gift to establish a fund at Bread & Roses to support grassroots media and media making across the region.

IPM was founded in 1981 as a public broadcaster operating WYBE Channel 35 in the Philadelphia market. In 2017, it relinquished its broadcast license as part of the Federal Communications Commission’s Broadcast Incentive Auction and began transitioning into a private foundation. It seeks to fund media and related programs that strengthen and connect diverse voices and foster greater understanding across the Philadelphia region.

IPM announced its first round of grants on July 9. These grants, it says, represent a key step toward “advancing the foundation’s strategic goals, which were designed through a detailed community listening and engagement process.” Including the gift to Bread & Roses, it will make grants totaling $5.3 million to 11 organizations.

Read about the grants here:
Learn more about IPM’s history and mission:

Anthony Marqusee: Using the Racial Wage Gap To Support Anti-Racism

Anthony (left) at a Giving Project session

After participating in the 2018-19 Immigration Justice Giving Project, Anthony Marqusee wanted to keep the momentum going. “I started thinking about other ways I could contribute resources to social change while also finding meaning for myself,” says Anthony. Below, we’re sharing a reflection Anthony wrote about this challenge.

by Anthony Marquesee

Participating in the Giving Project this year was an energizing and educational experience for me. After my project ended, I started thinking about other ways I could contribute resources to social change while also finding meaning for myself. Back in May I was mulling this challenge over and thought about the racial wage gap (the differences in earnings across racial groups in the US). What if I took the gap between what employers pay Black and white workers, and donated that amount to causes promoting racial justice?

I decided to try it, using my income for the one month period ending on Juneteenth (the holiday celebrating the emancipation of slaves in the US). I figured that donating through this method would both support a worthy cause, and also help “bring home” the true size of the wage gap. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the average Black American worker receives 73.3% of the average wage for a white worker, so I multiplied (100%-73.3%=26.7%) by my income for the month.

I donated the money to two community groups based in my neighborhood (Human Rights Coalition PA and Black & Brown Workers Co-op), and two one-time fundraisers that I heard about through acquaintances (BLISS Meadows and Let’s Help Uwizeyimana Angelique Finish College!).

In the end I felt that taking on this challenge was very fruitful. I learned more about the many Black liberation efforts that are ongoing today, and I was able to more deeply feel the reality of the racial wage gap. Like many people, I am inundated with facts and statistics about social issues, and I realized I had become numb to some of the reality behind the numbers. If you had told me before, “the wage gap is 26.7%,” I would have said, “that’s a lot.” But it wasn’t until I was actually giving up my own money that I realized, “wait, that actually is a lot.” I felt the injustice more deeply, and simultaneously felt I was doing something to support people working to end it.

I will share more about the process I used to choose the 26.7% number, and I also welcome any feedback on this project idea (and would love it if anyone felt inspired to try it themselves, on whatever scale works for them). Happy Juneteenth!

Note: see Anthony’s original post for footnotes on how they applied the wage gap numbers to their own income.

Seeking Input From Philly-Area Organizers on Self-Care Strategies

Image credit: Sarah Pflug for Burst

Self-care, healing, and personal development are essential to the strength of our movements, but they are often sidelined as low priorities.

As the hub for movements for change in the Philadelphia region, Bread & Roses is gathering information about how local organizers take care of themselves and prevent burnout and how we might better support individual people in movements. We are now offering organizers two ways to provide their input: by filling out a survey or attending a focus group.

The five-minute survey on personal development and self-care is designed to give Bread & Roses a better sense of the knowledge base, assets, and needs of the organizing community and its access to personal development and self-care resources.

Organizers can also attend a two-hour focus group in Center City, led by Erica Atwood of First Degree Consulting. Participants will receive food and a Visa gift card. Bread & Roses offers two dates to choose from:

      Monday, July 8, 5:30 to 7:30 pm
      Thursday, July 11, 5:30 to 7:30 pm

We ask those interested to RSVP by text to 215.688.5073 or email to

Grantee Profile: Pennsylvania Domestic Workers Alliance

Pennsylvania Domestic Workers Alliance members celebrate in April after the first City Council hearing on a Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights

“I thank Bread & Roses for their generous support, which we will use to keep fighting for our rights to win respect, dignity, equality, and identity through our domestic workers’ bill of rights.”

—Maria del Carmen Diaz

Domestic workers have been excluded from nearly all the landmark federal laws protecting workers’ rights. There is no minimum wage for domestic work, nor any guarantee of time-and-a-half pay for overtime. Housekeepers, nannies, and caregivers don’t have a right to unionize. But in recent decades, domestic workers across the country have organized to win victories that make their work safer and their lives richer. Now, a new organization, the Pennsylvania Domestic Workers Alliance (PDWA), joins the national fight.

PDWA members at a press conference outside City Hall

“We represent the 16,000 domestic workers in Philadelphia,” says Maria del Carmen Diaz, a member of PDWA. The worker-led organization launched as a joint project of Philadelphia Jobs with Justice and the National Domestic Workers Alliance late last summer after a yearlong discernment process. They received a grant from Bread & Roses’ Immigration Justice Fund this spring.

Nicole Kligerman, director of PDWA, explains their strategy: “We’re bringing together women workers across language, race, and immigration status and fighting for a domestic workers’ bill of rights that will expand worker protections. We’re pushing a big campaign in city hall, but we’re also building community and developing leaders among domestic workers who are by nature of their work isolated.”

The majority of domestic workers are women of color, and many are immigrants. Diaz is one of 15 workers on the organizing committee. “On behalf of all of us, I thank Bread & Roses for their generous support, which we will use to keep fighting for our rights to win respect, dignity, equality, and identity through our domestic workers’ bill of rights.”

Announcing the 2019 Tribute to Change Honorees

The Tribute to Change planning committee has selected a terrific group of honorees this year. We are pleased to introduce these world builders, disruptors, inventors, and creators.

2019 Tribute to Change Honorees

Francisco Cortes

Emerging Leader Award

Francisco Cortes is a Mexican immigrant and out gay Philadelphian. He intentionally and passionately advocates for immigrant and queer issues, and he currently serves as interim executive director of Galaei, a queer Latinx social justice organization.

Nancy Dung Nguyen

Trailblazer Award

Nancy Dung Nguyen is co-founder and executive director of VietLEAD, a grassroots group that organizes community and youth through a lens of social justice and anti-violence, health promotion and navigation, civic engagement, and community building projects.

Ron Whitehorne

Paul Robeson Lifetime Achievement Award

Ron Whitehorne advances education justice, workers’ rights, racial equity, and more through his commitment to groups like the Rainbow Coalition, Transport Workers Union, Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools, Youth United for Change, and 215 People’s Alliance.

Kara Tennis

Robin Hood Was Right Award

In 2016, Kara Tennis started on a journey of learning that redirected her focus to racial justice. Her work now includes paying direct reparations, fundraising for Bread & Roses, coaching other privileged people about white supremacy culture, and making and selling artwork through Justice Jewelry. She was a member of the 2018 Gender Justice Giving Project.

Philadelphia Coalition for Affordable Communities (PCAC)

Victory is Ours Award

PCAC is a citywide coalition of 65 community, disability, faith, labor, and urban agriculture groups that successfully organizes to win land and money for affordable, accessible housing, and green space.

Photo credit: Austin Horton

Urban Creators

Victory is Ours Award

Urban Creators, a diverse group of young students, artists, activists, organizers, and entrepreneurs, transformed a 2-acre garbage dump in North Philadelphia into Life Do Grow urban farm, a sanctuary and platform for organizing and nourishment.

These determined, imaginative organizers and grassroots groups are leading the way towards our shared vision of an abundant, just, and equitable future. Learn more about the 2019 Tribute to Change here.

Start Where You Are: A guide for Philly folks who want do more to support reproductive freedom

Art by Devon Bragg for Amplifier Art

Bread & Roses board member Farrah Parkes published this guide on

In recent weeks my social media feeds and in-person conversations have been dominated by folks horrified by the recent attacks on abortion access who feel powerless to do anything. I found myself thinking, “If only I’d already started my new gig, I would know what to say, what to do.”

But would I? I don’t really know. What I do know is that the patriarchy is counting on us feeling powerless; but we’re not. In that vein, I asked around and put together a few ideas for how folks can support those on the front lines nationally, join with those doing the work locally, and generally get more involved. Further suggestions welcome.

Read the full guide here.

Meet donor Kara Tennis

Why I give:
“I give because for me it would feel unconscionable not to work towards redistributing unearned wealth now that I have a sense in my gut — as well as a privileged white person can — of what it means to be a marginalized person who suffers from generations of oppression.”

Person indoors smiling wearing scarfKara Tennis became a donor after finding out about Bread & Roses from a neighbor, then wanted to get more involved. “I knew I really wanted to do a Giving Project just to challenge myself and to do that work in a group of people. My focus has always been about racial justice, but I did the gender justice one because it was the first one available, and I was so keen to do it,” she says. “As it went on, I realized it was the same work all along.”

“The Giving Project gave me a chance to practice my job as a privileged person, which is to keep listening, listening, listening, and learning from the experiences of marginalized people, rather than believing my own opinions and default reactions, centering my responses, or thinking I know what is needed or what should work,” she says.

Tennis recently began selling her mixed-media wearable art under the name Justice Jewelry. She donates all proceeds to anti-racist organizations including Bread & Roses. In October Tennis signed up to be a monthly donor to Bread & Roses. “I understand that it’s really helpful for the organization, knowing what it can count on,” she says. “I’ve been really behind supporting operating costs, because it’s harder for the organization to get those less sexy parts of funding done.”

Welcoming three new board members

Three headshots of new board members

Please join us in welcoming Yahya Alazrak, Farrah Parkes, and Nina Wong to our board of directors.

Yahya Alazrak’s experience growing up with one wealthy parent and one poor one has instilled in them a commitment to building a world where all people have three things: enough resources, power over their own lives, and community. They see Bread & Roses as having a key role in nurturing those things in the Philadelphia area, and they couldn’t be more grateful to serve that work. Yahya has been with Resource Generation since 2015 as a National Organizer and Coordinator of POC programs, organizing young people with access to wealth towards the redistribution of wealth, land, and power. They live in West Philadelphia and are a member of the Life Center Association cooperative land trust.

Farrah Parkes has spent her entire professional career in the non-profit sector working to address societal imbalances in resources and opportunities. She is inspired by Bread & Roses’ commitment to “change, not charity.” She previously served on the board of the Women’s Medical Fund and is currently the chair of the Board of Trustees of the Valentine Foundation.

Nina Wong is a lifelong Philadelphian always in search of new avenues to contribute to a collective, holistic vision of equity in the community she loves. Whether in her day-to-day roles as an operations consultant or trauma-informed yoga and mindfulness instructor, she is passionate about helping individuals and organizations alike align intention with action – while doing so ambitiously and sustainably. Nina was a member of Bread & Roses’ Spring 2017 Giving Project and considers it one of the most thought-provoking and paradigm-shifting experiences of her life (and she thinks you should join one as well!).