Executive director Casey Cook elected to the board of Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia

On April 10, Bread & Roses Community Fund executive director Casey Cook was elected to serve on the board of directors of Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia, a network of more than 140 diverse organizations that invest more than $500 million annually in the Philadelphia region.

The Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia board of directors is composed of leaders representing the region’s diverse funders. “Part of our mission at Bread & Roses is to advance social justice philanthropy and to encourage our colleagues in the philanthropic sector to support work at the community level and to make more grants to organizations engaged in advocacy, civic engagement, and community organizing,” says Casey Cook.

Bread & Roses Community Fund has been an active member of Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia for 20 years. “I’m honored to be elected to serve,” says Cook. “I look forward to supporting the leadership of executive director Sidney Hargro and to advancing the organization’s commitment to diverse, equitable, and inclusive philanthropy.”

Two people standing facing the camera smiling holding a framed certificate

Executive director Casey Cook (left) with Philanthropy Network’s board president Jennifer Pedroni, Vice President of Administration, HealthSpark Foundation. Bread & Roses received a certificate recognizing 20 years of membership in Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia.
Credit: Jim Harris Studios

 

Mourning the loss of Bread & Roses co-founder Molly Frantz

Person looking at the camera, outdoors

Molly Frantz passed away on April 25 at age 75.

We are very sad to announce the passing of Molly Frantz, a co-founder of Bread & Roses who remained active and dedicated to the organization throughout her life. She was a wonderful person, extraordinarily independent and thoroughly committed to the issues of racial and economic justice at the heart of Bread & Roses.

Molly grew up in the western suburbs of Philadelphia and graduated from Rosemont College in 1964. She received a Master’s in Social Work from Bryn Mawr College in 1970.

In the early 1970s, Molly joined with a small group of people in Philadelphia who wanted to create an alternative to the United Way that would fund a new generation of groups focusing on racial and economic justice, anti-war efforts, and other community organizing work. They founded The People’s Fund in 1971 and became Bread & Roses Community Fund in 1977.

Two people indoors laughing together

Molly Frantz (right) with Lenore Cooney at the first office of the People’s Fund at 13th and Sansom.

Molly’s impact at Bread & Roses is profound. Over the decades, she consistently pushed for a focus on racial and economic justice and a preference for funding new, small, community-based groups. She helped create Bread & Roses’ culture of consensus, encouraging people to work with one another to figure out how the organization would be shaped.

Molly enthusiastically served on committees and on the board of directors, showed up for events, and sustained her commitment for more than 40 years. She was also very supportive of each of the executive directors and she acted as an informal mentor to emerging leaders within the organization.

“Molly had a no nonsense demeanor and a generous heart,” says Casey Cook, executive director. “She always spoke her truth. She believed that a better, more just world was within reach. None of us would be at Bread & Roses without her.”

Black and white photo of four people standing and smiling

At a Tribute to Change event during the 1980s. From left to right, Steve Gold, Harvey Finkle, Molly Frantz, and Richard Baron.

Richard Baron, another co-founder of Bread & Roses, remembers Molly as “the nicest person most of us ever got to meet.”  He recalls her as an “intelligent, practical, pleasant partner to the people she worked with, and always interested in what other people had to say, but very clear about her own opinions and ambitions.”

Molly spent her career advocating for patients’ rights within the mental and behavioral health systems. In her private life, she enjoyed spending time with her devoted friends and family, going to the theater, and traveling all over the world.

Person sitting in a dark room looking down at paper

Molly Frantz in the early years of Bread & Roses

We invite you to share your remembrances of Molly in the comments section below — click on “Leave a reply.” We will be compiling these remembrances to share them with Molly’s family. Thank you for taking time to celebrate and honor Molly with us.

Grantee Profile: Women’s Medical Fund

People in a park holding up signs about crisis pregnancy centers

Women’s Medical Fund members raise awareness in October about manipulative tactics used by crisis pregnancy centers

“We strongly believe that taxpayer money should go towards actually benefiting our communities instead of just trying to control people’s bodies.”

— Tabitha Skervin

Women’s Medical Fund was started in 1985 to protect and increase abortion access for people with low incomes. “Last year, we expanded our work to include both direct service and community mobilizing,” says executive director Elicia Gonzales. “We applied for a grant from Bread & Roses to do that initial base-building work and create what is now called the Philadelphia Reproductive Freedom Collective.” The collective has been meeting every other week to learn community organizing skills and deepen their understanding of power and privilege. “Bread and Roses’ support really allowed that group to come to fruition, to cultivate their leadership,” Gonzales says.

The collective determined that their inaugural campaign would focus on crisis pregnancy centers. “We see crisis pregnancy centers as a barrier to abortion because they’re designed to intentionally deceive people, primarily poor people, [to prevent them] from having an abortion,” Gonzales says. “They have names that are very woman-centric and family-friendly, but when a person goes in, they are given misinformation, such as ‘abortion causes cancer.’ They even go so far as to lie about whether or not a person is pregnant.”

There are 18 crisis pregnancy centers in the city of Philadelphia but only six clinics where abortions are performed. “In Pennsylvania we give millions of dollars in taxpayer money to crisis pregnancy centers, specifically Temporary Assistance to Needy Families money,” notes Tabitha Skervin, community mobilization coordinator at Women’s Medical Fund. “We strongly believe that taxpayer money should go towards actually benefiting our communities instead of just trying to control people’s bodies.” Skervin adds that they aim for the city be free of any crisis pregnancy centers, and are building a base to raise awareness and support.

For Women’s Medical Fund, abortion access is a racial and economic justice issue. “Systemic oppression differently impacts communities,” Gonzales says. “The vast majority of people who get abortions in the country are white people, but the vast majority of people who call our helpline are people of color. We’re also continuing to grapple with ways to engage with our callers and really have people with lived experiences be part of the fabric of our work so that the work is not transactional but transformational.”

Meet donor Polly Pillen

Why I give:

“Because Bread & Roses centers and trusts the people that are most impacted by systems.”

Person smiling wearing a hatPolly Pillen moved to Philadelphia in October 2016 and joined a Giving Project at Bread & Roses just two months later. “It was a really special way to enter into my time in Philadelphia and hear about organizations on the ground that I would never have known about,” Pillen says. “Also, I was very recently learning about my owning class background and what I could move and starting that process. It felt like a serendipitous moment to think about what my role was in movement building.”

Pillen is a therapist at Women Organized Against Rape, a local rape and sexual assault crisis center. “My work is doing individual healing,” she says. “In my personal life, my community is doing work around movement building and thinking critically about our class and race privilege and trying to use those in ways that are important.”

For Pillen, participating in the Giving Project was one of the first steps, and she says it was transformative to hear the experiences and perspectives of people of color from different class backgrounds. “Being part of a democratic process where we got to learn about all of the work that was on the ground and mull over the decisions about how to give was really important and powerful and made me think more critically about giving,” she says. “The community aspect and being around other people doing that work really pushed me through some walls I had built up around giving. The Giving Project supports cross-race, cross-class community building, and I want to support that.”

Movements for gender justice find power in inclusivity

Women marching

Photo by Harvey Finkle

Following closely on the heels of the inauguration, the January 2017 Women’s March galvanized throngs of people into the streets to demonstrate power, rage, and commitment. The year that followed held dire threats to longstanding civil rights coupled with unprecedented moments of accountability, such as the explosion of the #MeToo movement.

“I think people are aware of gender justice on a level that they had not been before, a level of attention that has been given to #MeToo and to even more subtle and complex issues of power and relationships between men and women,” says Farrah Parkes, director of education, technology, and job readiness at ‎Lutheran Settlement House.

But today’s movements for gender justice are not our grandmothers’ movements, and they are gaining strength from understanding the interconnectedness of different forms of oppression.

“On a mass scale, more people are being encouraged, pushed, and challenged to have more of an intersectional analysis,” says Sara Zia Ebrahimi, program director at Leeway Foundation. That analysis addresses how people experience multiple forms of oppression — such as racism, sexism, classism, ableism, homophobia, and transphobia — simultaneously.

“Ten years ago, Leeway made the transition to fund not just women artists but women, trans, and gender-nonconforming artists, because feminism is about self-determination and trying to address people who are marginalized because of their gender, and so we’re looking beyond he or she and to a wider spectrum,” Ebrahimi says.

Nora Lichtash, executive director of Women’s Community Revitalization Project, works at the intersection of gender justice and economic justice. “It feels like now people can see a reality that has been so present for so many of us for a long time,” Lichtash says. “Sometimes people do see it but feel scared to say it. I think people are speaking out in the context of class, which is very important because as poor women, the vulnerability as far as the horrors of sexism and violence is unbelievable.”

Social change happens when communities organize together, and the spring 2018 Giving Project will raise money for a specialized Gender Justice Fund. “I’m looking forward to the gender justice project as a way to engage a lot of people on this issue,” says Parkes, a Giving Project alum. She notes that every person who contributes to a Giving Project, at any amount, is a part of sustaining change and building movements.

“The time is always right to do what’s right,” Parkes says, “but it’s the right moment because people are energized, people are waking up, people want to do something.”

Bread & Roses profiled on CityWide Stories

Bread & Roses Community Fund: Striving for Racial Equity and Economic Justice
Excerpted from CityWide Stories article published on February 19, 2018

Seven people outdoors smiling

Bread & Roses staff in December 2017

Casey Cook, Executive Director, has been at Bread & Roses Community Fund for over ten years. She told me she feels privileged to be a part of that history and to work with an amazing team of staff, volunteers, and organizers who work every day to create real change in the Philadelphia region and beyond. “The work we do together is shifting the balance of power in our region, lifting up the voices of those who have been silenced, and creating equity for all of our communities. We do that through collective action, driven by a sense of mutual accountability. We are in the midst of creating a world that has yet to be imagined,” said Cook.

In 2016, Bread & Roses launched the Giving Project, an innovative model for building leadership and moving money for real change in the Philadelphia region.

Read more at citywidestories.com.

In memoriam: Libby Harman

Person with glasses smiling, looking at camera

Credit: Jacques-Jean Tiziou

Libby Harman, a member of the spring 2017 Giving Project and longtime supporter of Bread & Roses, passed away Feb. 22 in hospice care at home.

“Libby was a vibrant person with a real zest for life, and I was lucky to know her,” says executive director Casey Cook. “When she believed in something, she gave it her all. She brought her whole heart to the Giving Project because she wanted to make racial and economic justice a reality.”

Libby was a skilled and compassionate women’s health nurse practitioner who worked for 38 years at Womencare OB/GYN in Abington. She was a dedicated member of congregation Mishkan Shalom, an avid dancer, and a talented quilter and fabric artist. Libby is survived by her spouse, Sharon Coulson Downes; her daughter, Grace; her sister, Janet; her brother-in-law, Cesar; her nephews Danilo and Emilio; and her mother, Liz.

Giving Project member Julie Zeglen writes about young people, generosity, and activism

Millennials are mad as hell and they’re not afraid to do something about it
Excerpted from Philadelphia Inquirer article published on February 9, 2018

The Center City-based Bread & Roses Community Fund is one of about seven social justice-focused funding organizations in the county that runs Giving Projects, a fund-raising initiative that asks a cross-race, cross-class, intergenerational cohort of citizens to fund-raise from their peers (and donate themselves) to a collective pool, which the cohort then grants out to local activist groups working for racial and economic justice. This past winter’s cohort of 17 — which, full disclosure, included me — raised $154,801.

Executive director Casey Cook said that interest in the project surged after the 2016 election — and that overwhelmingly, it was young people who responded to the call over their older peers. This matched Giving Project trends around the country.

“In Philly, we’ve had to make an effort to create an intergenerational environment,” Cook said. “We are overwhelmed with applications from young people, and that’s actually why we’re increasing the number of Giving Projects we’re running every year, in order to accommodate that need. And from my colleagues around the country, I am hearing similar things — that applications from young people are the largest in number.”

Read more at Philly.com.

Director of programs Aarati Kasturirangan wins social innovation award

Four smiling people look at the camera

From left to right, Bread & Roses staff members Casey Cook, Aarati Kasturirangan, Nigel Charles, and Lexi McMenamin at the Philadelphia Social Innovation Awards on January 24

Aarati Kasturirangan, director of programs at Bread & Roses Community Fund, was awarded first place in the Foundation category of the Greater Philadelphia 2018 Social Innovation Awards at a ceremony on January 24.

This award recognized Dr. Kasturirangan’s work launching and growing Bread & Roses’ Women of Equity program, a peer-led support group for women of color working in the nonprofit sector who are addressing diversity and inclusion efforts. “We are all thrilled for Aarati to be honored for her leadership in organizing communities of changemakers at Bread & Roses and beyond,” says executive director Casey Cook.

Aarati Kasturirangan poses with other honorees at social innovation awards ceremony

Aarati Kasturirangan (in blue) at the awards ceremony on January 24

Join us in recognizing Aarati as a steadfast champion of racial and economic justice by leaving a comment below or sharing this post on social media.

Grantee UrbEd in the news

Student-run advocacy nonprofit UrbEd is ‘reclaiming our school system’
Excerpted from Generocity.org article by Ebonee Johnson

UrbEd was founded in 2016 when Harper joined forces with former SLA student and now-UrbEd’s deputy executive director and program director, Luke Risher, to envision an organization devoted to the improvement of urban education. The pair began reaching out to other organizations for funding and support, and in June of 2017, was given a $6,000 grant by Bread & Roses Community Fund.

Bread & Roses’ Future Fund, designed to assist agencies “working on emerging issues or developing new approaches to social justice activism,” provided UrbEd the boost it needed to focus on branding and development.

“They took a chance,” Harper recalled.

Read more at Generocity.org.