Author Archives: Bread Roses

Donor Profile: Erika Aaron

“There’s a wide range of grassroots organizations that Bread & Roses supports and each one of them is amazing!”   

For Erika Aaron, a 2023 Racial & Economic Justice Giving Project alum, volunteering with Bread & Roses has been a transformative experience. Erika, a lifelong Philadelphia resident, has been involved with Bread & Roses since the 1970s “I first heard of Bread & Roses as a community-based organization that was working for radical change. I immediately felt like Bread & Roses represented my values and my political beliefs.”   

The Giving Project gave Erika a unique opportunity to engage with other members of the Bread & Roses community on a deeper level. “The Giving Project’s goals represent what’s dearest to me: using an anti-racist, class-conscious lens to support social justice movements. We all had to address our own racism and classism, it was done in a very thoughtful and intentional way and included some uncomfortable conversations. I strongly believe that uncomfortable conversations are the root of all growth and learning. Being in the Giving Project helped me better understand and work on my own prejudices.”   

Through the Giving Project, Erika was able to see Bread & Roses’ theory of “change, not charity” in action. “There’s a wide range of grassroots organizations that Bread & Roses supports and each one of them is amazing! When we interviewed groups seeking grants, they all said that Bread & Roses allowed them to do what they believed in and that they didn’t feel like they had to change any goals or objectives. Throughout the grant-making process, it was made clear that the people in the community know best about what the community needs, and they should make the decisions, not us.”   

“I got a chance to meet unbelievably remarkable people who are doing revolutionary work. I left the project feeling so hopeful about the future. That was important to me, especially during this time of despair.”    

Racial & Economic Justice Fund makes $290,000 in grants to fund grassroots organizing for racial and economic justice in the Philadelphia Region  

“Especially with the uncertainty that the coming year brings, funding the organizers doing the hard work of fighting to change unjust systems of oppression is critical.” -Casey Cook

In June of 2023, Bread & Roses Community Fund’s Racial & Economic Justice Fund and Future Fund made $290,000 in grants to thirty-four grassroots groups working to promote racial and economic justice in the Philadelphia region. This marks the largest amount of money raised by a Giving Project at Bread & Roses in recent history.  

The unprecedented amount of funds raised by members of the 2023 Racial & Economic Justice Giving Project is an example of what can happen when people from different backgrounds come together under the banner of justice. The record-making effort of our Giving Project members, the generosity of our donors, and the tenacity of our grantees is a true testament of Bread & Roses’ community-driven grantmaking model, where the people most affected by the issues are the ones making decisions about where money is needed most.  

 “Especially with the uncertainty that the coming year brings, funding the organizers doing the hard work of fighting to change unjust systems of oppression is critical,” says Bread & Roses executive director Casey Cook.  

For groups like Juntos, grants from Bread & Roses support the expansion of their community organizing efforts to protect the rights of immigrants in the Philadelphia region. “The growth of our membership…and the continuation of our youth development [work] are critical areas we are focusing on for the future. There’s a real need in the community and our work is necessary. Juntos is about keeping the community supported and thriving and we just need to be the strongest organization that we can be to better respond to the challenges that we’re facing,” says Erika Gaudalupe Núñez, executive director of Juntos. 

For Native American House Alliance the grant goes towards a greater goal of state recognition. “When we first reached out to Bread & Roses, we were trying to start a Native American Commission here in Philadelphia. Federally recognized Indians have the Bureau of Indian Affairs, but currently we have nobody to go to for help. With the new city administration, in 2024 we hope to establish a commission locally and eventually statewide,” says executive director Cornelia Dimalanta.   

For Unique Dreams, grant funds help to build power in communities in Frankford. “Coming into an election year, our work is more important now. The communities we serve are hard to reach unless you live there. Since we are based in the community, the funds go directly towards initiatives to help community members.  We were able to host a large community carnival and resource fair that allowed us to have the voter commission come out to set up a table. Because of that initiative, we were able to be a polling place for the election. We opened our doors to people that probably wouldn’t vote otherwise, that was huge for us,” says chief executive officer and founder Angenique Howard. 

Howard further asserts, “Nonprofits led by Black women are in a very difficult arena when it comes to funding. Bread & Roses streamlines the process and allows us to focus on the work.”  

Donor Profile Drick Boyd

“Through Bread & Roses I’m not only able to contribute to an organization with strong values, but I’m also able to learn about organizations I would not have found otherwise.”  

For Drick Boyd, a longtime Bread & Roses sustaining donor, giving to Bread & Roses is not just a way to support grassroots movements for justice, but to learn about them as well. Drick first found Bread & Roses when researching social justice organizations.

“I was interested in giving money to social justice organizations, but my funds were limited. I was looking at several organizations, but when I found Bread & Roses, I looked at the work the organization was doing, and it seemed to be a good fit, an organization with a clear social justice focus and a long history of grassroots funding.”

Drick realized that Bread & Roses was unique in how it funds and encourages new grassroots groups. “Through Bread & Roses I’m not only able to contribute to an organization with strong values, but I’m also able to learn about organizations I would not have found otherwise.”

“I have worked pretty much my whole life in the nonprofit world and have known a lot of groups over the course of my time here in Philly that are doing amazing work but were not as well-known and didn’t have the capacity to go out and have someone be a full-time fundraiser. Bread & Roses not only gives to long-established organizations, but also to organizations you might not otherwise hear about, unless you were involved with them, or you lived in a neighborhood where they are based. It is impressive that Bread & Roses organizes organizers that are just getting started.”

Grantee Profile: Juntos

“There are new immigrants arriving every day and they’re being met with a city that does not have adequate resources to address their needs. They are essentially alone.”    

Navigating Philadelphia as a new immigrant can be daunting, says Erika Guadalupe Núñez, executive director of Juntos, a community-led, Latinx immigrant organization and Racial & Economic Justice Fund grantee. “Philadelphia is classified as a sanctuary city, but we still have community members who come in every day and say, I was in court, and I couldn’t get language interpretation, or the police hung up on me because I don’t speak English.”

Founded over 20 years ago in response to the growing wave of migrants arriving in Philadelphia, Juntos responds to the needs and issues that immigrants face, guided by the principle that everyone has the right to quality education and the freedom to live with dignity regardless of immigration status. Says Núñez, “There are new immigrants arriving every day and they’re being met with a city that does not have adequate resources to address their needs. They are essentially alone.”

As an organization, Juntos has seen significant growth in the last few years. They are currently developing a youth leadership development pipeline through Fuerza, Juntos’ youth leadership committee. “Fuerza members can apply to be ambassadors, which are 12-week paid positions where they learn organizing skills like public speaking, canvassing, and political education around campaigns,” says Núñez.

Juntos takes community leadership seriously. This January they ratified a membership model in which the governance of the organization has essentially been passed to its members. Members assemble monthly and vote on major organizational decisions. Says Núñez, “We have a growing membership, which shows that there’s a need in the community and that our work is necessary, and that we need to be the strongest organization that we can be to better respond to the challenges that we’re facing.”

Closure of immigrant detention facility marks a big win for grassroots organizing

“It has been a long 8-year campaign where many people, most importantly those who have directly suffered imprisonment at Berks—Black and Brown families and women—have organized and lifted up their voices against the shameful practice of imprisoning immigrants.” -Adrianna Tores-Garcia

In November 2022, the federal government announced that Berks County Residential Center would be closing after twenty years of operating as an immigrant detention facility. The closure is a significant victory for the Shut Down Berks Coalition, comprised of several Bread & Roses grantees and other immigrant rights advocates who have long fought against the inhumane treatment of people detained at the Berks County Residential Center.

“It has been a long 8-year campaign where many people, most importantly those who have directly suffered imprisonment at Berks —Black and Brown families and women— have organized and lifted up their voices against the shameful practice of imprisoning immigrants,” says Adrianna Torres-Garcia, deputy director of Free Migration Project, an organizational member of the Shut Down Berks Coalition and a Racial & Economic Justice Fund grantee.

The Berks County Residential Center became a federal immigrant detention facility in 2001, and in 2014 it became one of three immigrant family detention centers in the United States used to detain mothers and children, finally transitioning to a women-only facility. Throughout its history, Berks County Residential Center was fraught with allegations of human rights abuses including lack of access to basic medical care, denial of legal representation, and assault and exploitation. Because of these harms, the Shut Down Berks Coalition focused on an abolitionist model rather than working with an eye on reform.

“It was important to always make clear that our demand was to shut it down, not just create better conditions. For years, people from Berks County asked that the building be turned into something that provides health and human services or educational services, and not be used to detain people who are in this country trying to make a better life for themselves,” says Torres-Garcia.

The coalition used various tactics to keep pressure on the state and federal government to close the facility. “We did a lot of work to make sure the issue was in front of the media, such as writing op-eds, letters to the editor, and ensuring the press was there to capture our actions. We collaborated with artists to create signs for protests and to run art programs for the detainees when we were allowed inside. These programs were not only therapeutic but were also an opportunity for the women to radicalize and organize themselves,” says Torres-Garcia.  

The Shut Down Berks Coalition’s campaign spanned three presidencies, each with its own deficiencies when it came to the treatment of migrants and asylum seekers. The Obama administration expanded family detention in response to an increase in Central American migrants seeking refuge in the United States. The Trump administration enacted an infamous zero-tolerance policy that resulted in the separation of families and the detention of children.

Erika Guadalupe Núñez, executive director of Juntos, a Shut Down Berks Coalition organizational member and Racial & Economic Justice Fund grantee, says, “Under Biden, there are more people in physical detention centers than under Trump. Biden has also kept many of Trump’s policies in place regarding the southern border.”

While the closure of Berks County Residential Center and the subsequent release of the remaining women detained there was a resounding victory, it also marked the end of the coalition. However, member organizations continue the fight for immigrant rights, such as ending the practice of medical deportations, lobbying for driver’s licenses regardless of immigration status, and ensuring that immigrants have equal access to city programs and services.

Donor profile: Sara Giraldo 

“I love the work of Bread & Roses! They fund grassroots projects by regular people, like you and me. Building from the ground up like this totally changes the power dynamics.”   

For Sara Giraldo, a 2021 Gender Justice Giving Project alum, giving to Bread & Roses is rooted in her passion for racial and gender justice: “As an immigrant and a person of color, I see how immigrants struggle. Because I had the opportunity to live in different cities in the U.S., I know there are not as many resources for the Latinx community in Philadelphia as in other places, like California. And because I’m fortunate to speak English, I feel called to get more involved in connecting people to resources.”  

Sara works with Comadre Luna, a Bread & Roses grantee and feminist collective that organizes to build a network of support for Latinx women in Philadelphia. Through her work with the collective, she learned about the Giving Project.   

“The Gender Justice Giving Project was a transforming experience for me. As a person of color, I think of myself as someone who is not so privileged, but in terms of gender, as a heterosexual, cis-gender woman, I am a privileged person. Working so closely with trans and non-binary people in the Giving Project and seeing their struggles was eye opening for me. I really appreciated all the conversations we had around ‘what is my privilege’ and ‘what is your privilege’ and ‘how do we come together and work this out to create a more just world?’”  

“I love the work of Bread & Roses! They fund grassroots projects by regular people, like you and me. Building from the ground up like this totally changes the power dynamics.”   

Grassroots community organizing groups address gun violence in their neighborhoods

“True safety can’t come from outside—from police who occupy our neighborhoods or judges who send people to prisons hours away. The thing that’s going to keep us safe is each other.” -Kris Henderson, Executive Director of Amistad Law Project

Last year, 562 people were murdered in Philadelphia—the highest number on record—506 died   in shootings. Gun violence takes its heaviest toll in communities of color. The majority of shooting victims and people charged with violent crimes in Philadelphia are young Black and Brown men. Grassroots movements are organizing to reduce violence by addressing its root causes.  

“There’s an illusion that suddenly there’s a spike in violence, but there’s been decades of disinvestment and starving communities of resources, so now we’re at a crisis point,” says Kris Henderson, Executive Director of Amistad Law Project, a grantee since 2018. “What we need are a lot more resources for things like libraries, recreation centers, afterschool programs, and jobs programs for young people.”  

“Poverty, lack of access to education and healthcare, and the hopelessness that comes from those things has rendered young people powerless in so many aspects of life to where the only currency they have left is violence,” says Felix Rosado, Program Coordinator of Healing Futures at Youth Art & Self-empowerment Program (YASP), a grantee since 2011.  

“Young people don’t feel safe walking the street, not even going to school, so they feel like they have to carry a gun just for protection,” says Don Ike Jones, Re-entry Coordinator for Youth Sentencing and Re-entry Program (YSRP), a grantee since 2015.     

Movement leaders say more police and prisons are not the answer. “There is a wide body of research showing that other factors reduce violent crime just as much, if not more, than increased policing and incarceration,” Henderson says. That includes increased income, decreased unemployment, and community-based efforts addressing violence, addiction, mental illness, housing, and education, Henderson says.  

“We have a system that, instead of asking the question ‘Why doesn’t this young person feel safe?’ and ‘How do we support them in creating safety?’ puts them in cages and separates them from their community supports and then expects them to do something different when they come out,” says YASP Director Sarah Morris.  

“I would argue that prison is a cause of violence,” Rosado says. “Prison itself is violent but it also produces the kind of anger, frustration, and trauma that continues the cycle of violence.”   

YASP’s Healing Futures program works to interrupt the cycle of violence by diverting young people and survivors away from the criminal justice system and into a community-based restorative justice process where youth take responsibility for their actions and work toward community healing.  

YASP and YSRP are leaders of the Care Not Control campaign, which seeks to end youth incarceration in Pennsylvania and reallocate resources from the carceral system to schools and health care. In May, YASP helped introduce a landmark bill into the Pennsylvania Senate that would eliminate the practice of prosecuting youth as adults.  

“True safety can’t come from outside—from police who occupy our neighborhoods or judges who send people to prisons hours away,” Henderson says. “The thing that’s going to keep us safe is each other.” 

Grantee Profile: Driving PA Forward 

“This is not just about the ‘privilege to drive,’ it’s literally denying that we exist.” – Luis Larin, Statewide Coordinator for Driving PA Forward

Currently, Pennsylvanians must provide proof of their legal status in the United States to apply for a driver’s license or learner’s permit. For the estimated 200,000 undocumented immigrants living in Pennsylvania, not having a driver’s license makes picking up children from school, shopping for groceries, or getting to work a daily risk. “A minor traffic stop can easily lead to deportation,” says Luis Larin, Statewide Coordinator for Driving PA Forward, a Racial & Economic Justice Fund grantee that is leading the fight to expand access to driver’s licenses to all Pennsylvanians, regardless of immigration status.  

“Our community has been called ‘essential workers,’” Larin says. “We keep the agriculture industry going. We put food on the table across the country during Covid, and yet we can’t get driver’s licenses. This is not just about the ‘privilege to drive,’ it’s literally denying that we exist, that we have a name, that we are human beings.”  

Driver’s licenses also provide critical identification people need to pick up medicine at the pharmacy or cash checks, Larin says, adding: “You are very limited in where you can rent and the kind of job you can get without some form of identification.”  

Driving PA Forward is an immigrant-led coalition of community and faith-based organizations, businesses, farmers, and labor groups that began working together to change Pennsylvania law in 2013 and became a formal coalition in 2019. Working with state legislators, the coalition recently introduced a bill that would extend the right to a driver’s license to all Pennsylvanians regardless of residency status while also ensuring strong privacy and data protections for all licensed drivers.  

To push the bill forward, the coalition is organizing across the state—educating legislators about the issues, holding rallies, circulating petitions, and going door-to-door in key legislative districts to garner support. “We are grateful to Bread & Roses for their support in helping us to keep our community and our families together.” 

New partnership established to move money to grassroots groups of parents and caregivers organizing for change 

We are excited to announce a new collaboration with Philadelphia Health Partnership, Vanguard Strong Start for Kids, and Bread & Roses Community Fund to create a fund to move money to grassroots groups of parents and caregivers organizing for change. 

The fund will focus specifically on early childhood. Like all our funds, community input will drive the design of the fund and distribution of the grants, and the fund will focus on issues prioritized by parents and caregivers.  

The fund will also be a platform for building community among its grantees and creating opportunities for them to support and learn from each other. After the first grant cycle, Bread & Roses will also convene grantees to identify common barriers and challenges, and to make recommendations to funders and policymakers on how to continue, adapt, and expand support for family voices and leadership. 

Bread & Roses is currently recruiting parents, caregivers, and allies to serve on the Community Grantmaking Committee, which will design the fund criteria, review applications, and make decisions.

You can read more about the fund process in this interview with Lauren Wechsler, Program Director of Philadelphia Health Partnership.

Grantee Profile: Teamsters for a Democratic Union 

“They were afraid, but they learned that they have power and they can win.” –Liana Kallman

For the last decade, housekeepers at the University of Pennsylvania were trapped in a two-tier wage structure that kept half of them in a permanent bottom tier, earning $5 less per hour than coworkers performing the same work. In June, Philadelphia Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU), a Racial & Economic Justice Fund grantee, helped the 500+ housekeepers defeat the two-tier system and win raises for all 550 members of Teamsters Local 115, which also includes groundskeepers and truck drivers.  

“The five-year contract puts every Teamster at UPenn on a progression to top pay,” says TDU staff organizer Liana Kallman. “This year, the first tier is making $25.12 and the second tier is at $20.90, but by the end of the contract every housekeeper will get $28.68.”   

TDU is a worker-led organization that mobilizes Teamsters to fight for higher wages, build power on the job, and win new leadership and new direction for their union.   

Longtime Teamster Local 115 members contacted TDU because they felt the two-tier system was destroying their union, Kallman says. TDU helped them organize the housekeepers, many of whom are East African immigrant women whose first language is not English. TDU created a bargaining survey, which was translated into Amharic and Spanish, and helped plan a rally outside the university president’s office that drew 70 workers, community members, and press.   

“Housekeepers had never rallied on campus,” Kallman says. “Some of the Ethiopian women were told, ‘You’re not allowed to rally, not in your uniform. You could get fired for this.’ They were afraid, but they learned that they have power and they can win.”   

TDU is currently organizing UPS workers, whose contract expires next year, staff organizer Paul Prescod says: “UPS Part timers, who are disproportionately workers of color, are in the union but it’s almost like another tier of workers—they’re paid very low, sometimes less than Amazon part timers. We want to create more full-time jobs and raise wages.”