Author Archives: Bread Roses

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 Advisory Committee, which will design the fund criteria, as well as the Community Grantmaking Committee, which will review applications and make decisions about which groups will receive grants. Please fill out this form to be considered for either or both committees. 

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.”  

Donor profile: Melissa Melby 

“People in positions of privilege should not have the power to decide where the money goes. Communities should decide.” 

For Melissa Melby, a 2021 Gender Justice Giving Project member, giving to Bread & Roses is about shifting the balance of power. Last year, after the stock market made record gains, Melby’s uncle gave each of his nieces a generous cash gift. “I felt so uncomfortable getting this gift when so many people were struggling because of the pandemic that I immediately started looking for places to give it away,” Melby says. When she learned about Bread & Roses’ focus on community-driven participatory grantmaking, she joined a Giving Project. “I am inspired by Bread & Roses’ vision and process of moving money from communities of donors to communities of people who need it.”   

Her parents were her first “ask” and it led to some pivotal conversations: “My dad had reservations about giving money when the recipients had not already been decided—it was like giving up control over where their money was going. We talked about how people in positions of privilege should not have the power to decide where the money goes. Communities should decide how best to spend the money.” Her parents were so impressed by this community-based approach that they made a gift that was two and half times larger than they planned. Melby went on to raise more money for the Giving Project than she ever expected.  

“Being in a group of people with so many different experiences and perspectives, all working toward the same goal, was a transformative experience. It showed me that together we can achieve so much more than any one individual can achieve.”  

Dobbs ruling will have far-reaching ramifications for gender justice and other human rights  

“Dobbs empowers ideologues to move beyond the abortion context and restrict a broad array of rights…There is a lot at stake.” Reggie Shuford 

The recent Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v Wade and revoke the federal constitutional right to abortion jeopardizes the health and safety of millions of people who need access to safe abortion care. This decision will be felt most acutely in communities of color and poor communities who already face deep inequities in healthcare access. As the dissenting opinion from the liberal Supreme Court justices points out, Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization doesn’t just eliminate the right to abortion, it threatens other legal precedents that establish rights to privacy, sexual intimacy, and bodily autonomy—opening the door to the erosion of gender justice and human rights.  

Dobbs empowers ideologues to move beyond the abortion context and restrict a broad array of rights,” says Reggie Shuford, Executive Director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “We have folks in the courts and elected officials who are committed to revisiting what we believed were long-resolved rights, guaranteed to every American. That includes the right to marry, the right to contraception, the right to gender expression, the right to vote, and the right to learn what you want in school. There is a lot at stake.” 

“We are seeing a very concerted effort to destroy people’s ability to make decisions about their health, their bodies, and their lives,” says Farrah Parkes, Executive Director of the Gender Justice Fund. “It’s not an accident that the two states with the most restrictive anti-abortion laws, Florida and Texas, are also states with some of the most restrictive anti-trans laws. Florida just started denying Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming treatments for trans adults.” 

“We’ve been living in a post-Roe world in Pennsylvania since 1985, when the state implemented a racially and economically unjust law which prohibited Medicaid funding from covering abortions,” says Elicia Gonzales, Executive Director of the Abortion Liberation Fund of PA. “Dobbs is going to make abortion access even more difficult for Black, Brown, and Indigenous folks who are already burdened by poverty as a result of racialized capitalism.”  

While abortion is still legal in Pennsylvania, state legislators are pushing through an amendment to the state constitution that says: “there is no right to taxpayer-funded abortion or any other right relating to abortion.” If the amendment passes, state courts would be powerless to recognize abortion as a right guaranteed by the state constitution. An amendment requires two consecutive votes and a ballot initiative. Legislators passed the amendment in July 2022 and will vote again in early 2023. Pennsylvania voters could decide on the amendment as early as May 2023.  

Movements are fighting back. The Women’s Law Project of PA filed a lawsuit on behalf of Pennsylvania abortion providers challenging the state ban on Medicaid funding for abortions. The litigation, which will be heard this fall, also asks the state Supreme Court to affirm that Pennsylvanians have a fundamental right to abortion under the state constitution.  

“The majority of Americans believe in abortion. Politicians should be listening to their constituencies,” Shuford says. “People need to vote in every election. You have to be in the fight. You cannot win unless you are fighting.”  

Grantee Profile: Why Not Prosper 

In Pennsylvania, women returning from prison often have to wait more than a month to access critical Medicaid benefits. For women with substance use disorder who were receiving medication-assisted treatment in prison, this disruption in care can be fatal, says Rev. Dr. Michelle Anne Simmons, chief executive officer of Why Not Prosper, a Racial & Economic Justice Fund and Phoebus Criminal Justice Initiative grantee that supports women’s re-entry journey from prison back to their communities.   

“When women are released, they’re supposed to get their benefits activated in five days, but it usually takes 32 days,” Rev. Simmons says. “If a woman comes home with opioid addiction and can’t get her medication-assisted treatment, she’ll use and she’ll die. We lose too many women this way.”   

Why Not Prosper is taking its fight to Harrisburg, educating legislators about the healthcare crisis women face inside and outside of prisons. “We want every woman to be released from jail with at least one month of their prescription,” Rev. Simmons says. “That way, if it does take that long to get their benefits, they’ve got a prescription to hold them for 30 days. We want that to be the state law. Women’s lives depend on it.”   

Why Not Prosper has made powerful allies, including PA Senator Art Haywood, who chairs the Health and Human Services Committee, and First Lady Frances Wolf. Mrs. Wolf recently visited Why Not Prosper’s Germantown office to meet with formerly incarcerated women and bring their stories to Governor Wolf.   

Rev. Simmons founded Why Not Prosper in 2001. As a formerly incarcerated woman who once experienced addiction, she brings the lessons she learned to help other women on their re-entry journey. Why Not Prosper offers a continuum of programs that include pre-release mentoring, residential services, job training, and help reuniting with family. “Formerly incarcerated people are human beings first,” she says. “They need to be approached with non-judgment, love, and support.”  

Donor profile: Veronica Rex 

For Veronica Rex, a 2021 Gender Justice Giving Project alum, donating to Bread & Roses is about giving back. Veronica was incarcerated in 2018 and the Philadelphia Community Bail Fund, a Bread & Roses grantee, brought her home through their Mama’s Day Bailout. “As soon as I came home, I started [volunteering] as a core organizer for the bail fund. I had the opportunity to sit in with Bread & Roses for two grants the bail fund received, and it got me curious about where the money comes from. Who has money to just give to help underserved individuals?”  

Then she learned about the Giving Project: “When my group dared to raise $150,000, I was thinking ‘How are we going to do that?’ But once I learned how to ask, I realized that everyone giving a little made the pot grow.” Veronica figured out how much she could give if she budgeted it over a few months and then asked friends and coworkers to donate. “At first, I was afraid of being turned down. I expected to hear no but instead heard yes! The first two people I asked each gave $100!”   

“The Giving Project showed me that people from all walks of life can come together for a common goal. There were people that come from money and there were folks like me that come from poverty, but we were in it together.”   

“It was a great feeling to be raising funds that would help bring people home from incarceration and fight injustice. Part of my journey is giving back.”   

Grassroots community organizing groups fight for housing justice in their neighborhoods and across the country  

The economic fallout from the pandemic and drastic cost-of-living increases are exacerbating Philadelphia’s longstanding housing crisis. A recent Pew Charitable Trusts study found that 54% of Philadelphia renters and 28% of homeowners spend at least 30% of their income on housing. The National Low Income Housing Coalition reports that the Philadelphia region has only “29 affordable housing units available for every 100 extremely poor households”—well below the national average.   

“26% of Philadelphia households earn less than $15,000 a year,” says Nora Lichtash, executive director of Women’s Community Revitalization Project (WCRP), a Neighborhood Equitable Recovery Fund grantee. “Those folks can’t afford housing.”  

Bread & Roses grantees are fighting for housing justice by demanding policy reform, pushing back against gentrification, and filing federal lawsuits on behalf of unhoused people.   

Last fall, WCRP and other members of the Philadelphia Coalition for Affordable Communities won a major victory: They helped pass a bill mandating that the city put .5% of its general fund budget (roughly $26 million) into the Housing Trust Fund to create and preserve affordable housing. In November, Philadelphians voted to change the city charter to include the annual allocation.   

Now, WCRP and other housing allies are fighting for access to vacant city-owned land to build more affordable housing. Currently, developers can get public land for a nominal fee if half the units are considered affordable. But the units aren’t affordable, and they often revert to market-rate prices after a 15-year compliance period, Lichtash says. A proposed bill in City Council would prioritize city-owned land for community land trusts to create permanent affordable housing. “The legislation would level the playing field and give communities control of land,” Lichtash says.   

Germantown Residents for Economic Alternatives Together (GREAT), a Future Fund grantee, is mobilizing neighbors to stop predatory homebuying, which uses high-pressure tactics to convince vulnerable homeowners to sell below market value for cash. Working with Community Legal Services, GREAT created a Stop Predatory Homebuying toolkit and held community meetings to educate neighbors. GREAT is hosting Learning Circles “to understand how the community can have a stronger voice in the development process so we can prevent displacement and gentrification,” says Lindsay Stolkey, a founder of GREAT.   

The Poor People’s Economic and Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC), an Equitable Public Space Fund grantee, is working for housing justice at the national level. In July 2021, PPEHRC filed a federal lawsuit against the department of Housing and Urban Development to hold the Biden administration accountable for the lack of affordable housing in Philadelphia and throughout the country. A Federal judge recently dismissed the case but gave PPEHRC a road map for how to re-enter the lawsuit, says Cheri Honkala, PPEHRC’s director.   

PPEHRC plans to file a new lawsuit this fall that would make cities legally responsible to house unhoused people. “We are taking a national approach to force every city to deal with the crisis,” Honkala says. “Instead of treating homelessness as a crime, not housing people would be a crime.”     

Thank you for an amazing Tribute to Change

Each year the Tribute to Change brings together people who share a vision for justice, equity, and a commitment to moving money to grassroots movements. This year’s theme was “We Have Each Other: uplifting community care, mutual aid, and collective joy!” 

On June 23, 2022 we held our first in-person Tribute to Change in three years and it was a memorable evening. We raised more than $151,000 to support grassroots community organizers in the Philadelphia region–the most we have raised at a Tribute to Change! Thanks to the planning committee, event volunteers, sponsors, advertisers, and attendees that helped make the event a huge success.  

Here are photos of the event and a video highlighting the amazing work of our honorees.

$200,000 in grants announced from the Kensington Community Resilience Fund

We are proud to announce the second round of Kensington Community Resilience Fund grants. The Kensington Community Resilience Fund was a public-private-community partnership between the Kensington community, regional funders, Bread & Roses Community Fund, and the city of Philadelphia. The fund supported organizations in the Kensington, Harrowgate, and Fairhill neighborhoods that are working to build a community in which all residents can thrive.

Grantees, funders, Community Advisory Committee members, and the press—among others—gathered at Harrowgate Park on July 14th to commemorate the first round of Kensington Community Resilience Fund grants.

On March 3, the Community Advisory Committee for the fund announced that $10,000 grants were awarded to twenty grantees:

Beyond The Bars is a student-driven music and career skills program dedicated to interrupting cycles of violence and incarceration while helping students recognize their immense potential. This grant will help Beyond the Bars start weekly programming, skills development, and communal shows for youth and young adults in the Kensington area.

By Faith, Health and Healing focuses on rebuilding community and establishing a foundation for trauma informed care in Kensington. Participants take part in facilitated peer support groups, arts-based healing workshops, and specialized trainings and field trips. The grant will help them provide support programs in processing grief, loss, and trauma.

Centro Nueva Creación has served the community of Fairhill since 1993. Initially their programming focused on providing a safe space for neighborhood youth after school, but has expanded to include arts and culture, homework help, literacy, natural sciences, sports, and more. This grant will help provide educational opportunities and experiences, both in and out of school, to Fairhill’s young people.

Ed Snider Hockey Foundation utilizes ice hockey to help students succeed in the game of life. Snider Hockey programs support the overall development of students from crayons to college, and onto their careers. This grant will go towards their hockey program which immerses students in a wide array of educational, life skills, scholarship, and career development programming.

Fab Youth Philly supports organizations and individuals that work with children and youth, focusing on improving program quality, connecting youth workers to quality professional development opportunities. This grant will go towards Fab Youth Philly quality youth development, afterschool programming, and workforce development opportunities for residents at the McPherson Square Free Library.

Firm Hope Baptist Church’s vision is to meet the spiritual and social needs of their community. They have a community meal service as well as outdoor and indoor space for various neighborhood meetings. This grant will go towards their programming, including hosting a weekly gathering of teens and young adults to address community violence and build social skills.

The Greater Philadelphia Diaper Bank provides over two million diapers, including adult diapers, and period products to partner agencies. This grant will go towards their mission of making the community aware that diapers and period products are basic human needs and that meeting these needs helps individuals and families thrive.

Historic Fair Hill’s goals are to serve as a responsive partner in the revitalization of Fairhill through youth development and education programs, urban farming and fresh food initiatives, and community-building and wellness projects. This grant supports work in the Julia de Burgos Elementary School community.

The Kensington Community Meals group is an anti-hunger collaborative project to organize meal providers. Their activities focus on empowerment, education, training, resource mobilization, and relationship building. This grant will help them purchase and install five information boards at Heitzman, McPherson Square Park, Harrowgate Park, The Butterfly Garden, and McVeigh.

Kensington Voice publishes news stories, resource guides, and personal essays for and by Kensington, Harrowgate, and Fairhill residents in English and Spanish. This grant will help them launch a Digital Media Mac Lab for community members in the spring of 2022.

Klean Kensington’s mission is to connect neighbors, young and old, in renewing their community. They do this through trash cleanup, beautification efforts, block events, kids programming, and by hiring youth/young adults. This grant will help them pay local youth, install more permanent trash-alleviation mechanisms, and build general capacity.

Mad Beatz Philly trains new drummers, ages 13 and older, to perform in the Mad Beatz Philly drumline. The program creates a bridge between the social, emotional, and rhythmic intelligence of Black and Latinx learners within a college preparation framework. This grant will go towards providing weekly programming and launching a second cohort of their workforce development program.

Mother of Mercy House’s  mission is to help everyone experience unconditional and empowering love. This grant will go towards their food bank, nursing care, after school programs, parenting programs, summer day camps, and space for the Philadelphia ID program.

Rebel Arts Movement Center empowers youth & adults through instruction in acrobatics, tumbling, and aerial arts. This grant will go towards developing a performing arts pipeline program that will allow students to engage in expressive arts without the existing financial barriers.

Somerset Neighbors for Better Living is a registered community organization that works as part of the neighborhood to make Somerset a better place to live, work, and play.  This grant will go towards installing trash cans and solar lights on ten target blocks that will be cared for by youth leaders identified through partnership with local high schools.

Stay True is a youth-centered, community building nonprofit, dedicated to fostering brave and safe spaces to unapologetically demand equity in Philadelphia. This grant will help Stay True support young folx in the Kensington neighborhood through its summer programming.

Visitation School has long prided itself on providing for Kensington families both in and outside of the classroom. This grant will go towards the construction of a natural barrier along their existing fence line at Kensington Avenue and Lehigh Avenue, to create a sheltered space with a sustainable raised bed and pallet garden to provide hands-on learning.

We Love Philly’s  mission is to empower students with positive community experiences and essential professional skills through mindfulness, volunteerism, and entrepreneurship. This grant will go towards making their property at 120 Wishart Street a site for a state certified pre-apprenticeship program in collaboration with One Bright Ray Community High School, Jevs Human Services, and Orleans Technical Institute.

Yoga 4 Philly believes that yoga, meditation, and other mindfulness tools should be accessible to everyone. The grant will help Yoga 4 Philly offer free yoga to the students, school administrators, and community members at Elkin Elementary School, which has a large portion of students with behavioral issues.

Zerbe Artz provides a space for the community to engage in conversations about social issues through art. This grant will go towards their current work of beautifying a blighted space at the McVeigh Rec center where residents have been working diligently to create a safe, beautiful, and clean space for their children.

Grantee Profile: Galaei

Kelly Burkhardt

Galaei, a Gender Justice Organizing Fund grantee, was founded in 1989 to provide education and advocacy to the Queer Latinx community during the HIV/AIDS crisis. Last year, Galaei expanded its mission to serve all queer, trans, Black, Indigenous, and people of color (QTBIPOC) communities.   

“Throughout our history, Galaei has evolved to meet the most pressing needs of the most marginalized in our community,” says executive director Ashley Coleman, who joined Galaei in February 2021 to lead its transformation. “We are evolving the organization to embrace all folks of color, staying rooted in our past while extending our arms into the future.”   

Galaei is dedicated to creating access, opportunities, sexual empowerment, and economic development for all QTBIPOC individuals. It continues to provide HIV testing, counseling and education, and linkages to queer- and trans-competent health care. TINGS (Trans, Intersex, Non-binary, and Gender non-conforming Services) provides peer coaching and life skills development and youth drop-in programs. Gender 101 through 301 trainings help participants navigate uncomfortable conversations at work, school, and home to combat patriarchal systems and implement change. Galaei partners with high schools to teach a comprehensive Gender and Sexuality Curriculum.  

New initiatives include a summer camp for QTBIPOC 8-12-year-olds and a winter swim camp for kids and adults. The CDC reports that Black children are 5.5 times more likely to drown in pools than white children. “This is about gate keeping. It’s not just about access to a pool but also access to swim lessons,” Coleman says. “We want to create a safe space for all different bodies.”