We are proud to announce that Bread & Roses made $160,000 in grants this October to 16 groups organizing to mobilize women, girls, transgender, and gender-nonconforming people to make change in the Philadelphia region. The money for these grants was raised by the 2019 Gender Justice Giving Project.
Like many grassroots groups, Sappho and LaRoyce Foundation emerged when people got together to share their stories and take action. “I started having conversations with other lesbian women,” says co-founder Sappho Fulton. “They were going through a lot of nonsense in their relationships and they didn’t understand why they stayed, and I said we’ve got to do something collectively to help ourselves.”
The group formed in May 2018 with a mission to “educate, elevate, and empower LGBTQ and women of color to sustain holistic healing,” says Fulton. Sappho and LaRoyce Foundation received a grant from the Future Fund followed by a grant from the Gender Justice Fund. One of their core activities is facilitating support groups. “It is really about community,” Fulton says. “I see it as creating and opening up space for everybody so we can grow together and learn from one another.”
In addition to establishing spaces for mutual support and caretaking, Sappho and LaRoyce Foundation is working on a campaign to pass an updated Violence Against Women Act, which would add protections for transgender people. Because this legislation has stagnated in the Senate since April, Sappho and LaRoyce Foundation is working to push it forward by writing letters, meeting with local representatives, and learning about other advocacy tools.
As the organization grows, Fulton foresees expanding their work to engage trans men and LGBTQ youth in dialogue about domestic abuse. Fulton reflects on the group’s evolving role: “It went from my own personal experience being the motivating factor to addressing community needs from a holistic lens, from a broader lens. So, we have grown up and grown out.”
Bread & Roses board member Farrah Parkes published this guide on medium.com:
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.
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.”