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$450,000 in grants announced in round one of Neighborhood Equitable Recovery Fund

We are proud to announce 30 new grants to grassroots organizations made through the first round of the Neighborhood Equitable Recovery Fund, a partnership between the City of Philadelphia Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity (CEO) and Bread & Roses Community Fund to support community-based nonprofit organizations that serve communities of color and those with low incomes, which have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

We are accepting applications for the second round of funding through October 1.

Neighborhood Equitable Recovery Fund Round One Grantees

African Cultural Alliance of North America supports newly-arrived Caribbean and African immigrants in their resettlement process by connecting families with social, health, and economic services. This grant will support the expansion of ACANA’s food assistance nutritional education program to provide their communities with culturally sensitive nutrition information and greater food security. 

Agape African Senior Center helps at-risk elderly African and Caribbean refugees and immigrants linguistically, socially, culturally, and economically. This grant will support the opening of their new in-person Office of Health Advocate that was created to address the impact of COVID-19 and its aftermath by helping victims’ families who lost breadwinners and sponsors. 

ArtWell supports young people and their communities through multidisciplinary arts expression, education, and creative reflection to celebrate their strengths and help them thrive while facing complex challenges. This grant will help pay their staff and provide students with art supplies. 

Big Picture Alliance’s mission is to engage, educate, and empower Philadelphia’s youth whose stories have traditionally been under-represented through filmmaking & digital media arts. This grant will support their digital media programs that provide youth with access to digital media tools, 21st-century skill development, professional mentorship, creative community, paid work experience, and career pathways. 

The Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia strives to improve the quality of life of Cambodian-Americans in the Philadelphia area through direct service, advocacy, and cultural education. This grant will expand their capacity to provide social services, including health education and elder engagement, to address needs as their community makes steps into the post-pandemic phase. 

Center in the Park is a nationally accredited nonprofit senior community center located in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia. This grant will support their operating expenses including social services and housing programs serving low-income older adults. 

Cradles to Crayons collects gently used and new, donated children’s items and re-distributes them to families unable to afford them. This grant will help them purchase school supplies, diapers, and hygiene products in bulk quantities for distribution to families.  

Esteem Girls empowers girls underrepresented in STEM by building their self-esteem and confidence to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math fields. This grant will go towards rent, stipends for their Esteem Leaders, four summer camp interns, and will also help offset the costs of their programming. 

Free Migration Project works at the intersection of law and community organizing to promote freedom of movement as a basic human right. They call for the abolition of detention and deportation as well as unjust immigration restrictions. This grant will support payroll and overhead to meet the increased need for reliable and affordable legal representation of low-income immigrant residents of Philadelphia. 

Georgia E. Gregory Interdenominational School of Music is a safe, creative space for youth to experience cognitive, social, and cultural development through music and the performing arts. This grant will help them provide tuition-free music, dance, and drama classes for youth K-12 to address the mental challenges of COVID-19, expand after-school meals, and to continue to support “art-risk” families with education and artistic programming.  

Grands As Parents supports grandparent caregivers and their grandchildren through workshops on financial literacy, legal training related to custody and DHS, and education about nutrition, mental health, and voting. This grant will provide food, clothing, and housing incentives for additional families and individuals within their community. 

The Hunting Park Community Revitalization Corporation promotes the development, welfare, and well-being of all people in the Hunting Park community. Informed by input from residents, HPCRC is prioritizing programs that support energy affordability, housing, and hot-weather resiliency. This grant will support a heat-relief resource giveaway, energy efficiency education at community events, and workshops on weatherization and utility assistance programs, heat health, and heat resiliency. 

The Islamic Cultural Preservation and Information Council – New Africa Center CDC is a nonprofit coalition of university scholars, educators, multi-disciplinary artists, parents, and individuals striving to preserve and elevate the cultural heritage of Islam in America. This grant will go to the costs of their New Freedom District Community Day program, a weekly truck rental to pick up supplies from food distribution centers, and part-time staff to distribute food to the community. 

Kensington Soccer Club is dedicated to providing the Kensington community with high-quality soccer and youth development programs for everybody, regardless of their ability to pay. This grant will help them establish continuity of programming and care and keep both participants and residents drug-free, violence-free, and healthy. 

KITHS is a community-based organization that provides serve Cambodian refugees and other Southeast Asian immigrants with social services using a social justice framework. This grant will support KITHS’ Kitchen, a culturally-affirming food pantry that provides education on nutrition and information about food access.  

Mighty Writers positively impacts the educational crisis in the US by offering free literacy and resource distribution programs to youth. This grant will be used for personnel costs, program expenses, contracted educator fees, facilities and equipment, administrative expenses, and travel. 

Mt. Vernon Manor CDC works to create accessible and safe communities by advancing affordable housing, building green spaces, and encouraging economic mobility and public health. This grant will be allocated toward the salary costs of MVM’s Director of Community Development, which is a position that will allow their staff to dedicate more time to managing long-term recovery projects. 

The Monkey & The Elephant is a nonprofit café on West Girard Avenue that supports young people in the transition from foster care to independence through a holistic employment and life skills program. This grant will provide the funds needed to continue to employ and support the most vulnerable youth during this fragile time and help expand their impact through 2022. 

Native American House Alliance promotes racial, economic, and political justice for Native Americans through media representation, organizing, and advocacy campaigns. They are working to establish the state’s first Native American Commissions. This grant will help build their capacity as Philadelphia’s only Native American community-based organization to take a lead role in the proposed Native American Commission campaign. 

One Art Community Center promotes racial and economic liberation by working towards sustainability, land sovereignty, and against food apartheid in their communities. This grant will go towards the establishment of a Black-owned farm food distribution and recycling program operated through One Art’s Sustainability Training & Education Program (STEP).  

PAR-Recycle Works hopes to support their transitional employees who were formerly incarcerated through payroll and other benefits, encouraging their economic self-sufficiency. Funds will support payroll for these transitional employees. 

Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation (PCDC) supports equitable recovery for Philadelphia’s low-income, limited-English-proficient immigrant community members in the areas of financial, housing, educational, and mental/emotional issues. PCDC will use this grant to help sustain their expanded Housing and Family Services Program to meet the increased needs in the low-income Chinese immigrant community. 

Purple House Project PA works with women who have experienced intimate partner violence and builds a community of women who uplift and support other women. This grant will be used to purchase program supplies, provide incentives for women, pay contractors and staff, and purchase personal care items for women. 

Safe Haven Family Life Center provides a safe environment for the Strawberry Manson Community to obtain healthy meals, youth programs, senior aid, family counseling, and other services as needed. This grant will help to pay staff—which sometimes they are unable to do due to lack of funding—provide outdoor community youth activities, and repair their air conditioner. 

​​The Reawakening Agency assists incarcerated people with a successful transition back into their communities after they are released from prison. This grant will go towards payroll, rent, and other operating expenses incurred from developing their remote/virtual services. 

Tree House Books is a community-based organization that seeks to be part of the North Central Philadelphia neighborhood’s continued renewal and uplift. This grant will help them implement new pre-teen and teen leadership programs, expand their new bookmobile, and assist in the reopening of their Giving Library. 

Unemployment Information Center/Philadelphia Unemployment Project organizes and serves the unemployed and low-income communities of Philadelphia. The grant will go to organizing staff working with unemployed Philadelphians, mostly people of color. 

Unique Dreams empowers and strengthens youth and families in the Frankford community, which consists of 70,000 residents. The grant will allow them to purchase a van and hire staff to facilitate food distribution, transport seniors in the area to fulfill their medical needs, and provide safe travel for summer camp and aftercare students. 

Why Not Prosper is a grassroots organization located in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia that provides women in the reentry process a continuum of programs and services that include pre-release mentoring, residential services, employment help, family reunification, etc. Funds will be used to help support the community’s food security through their Share the Bounty program. 

Women’s Community Revitalization Project (WCRP) is a women-led, multi-racial community development organization committed to social and economic equity for low-income women and their families. This grant will be used to support the organization and their constituents in recovering from the pandemic.

Solidarity Fund for COVID-19 Organizing final report shares impact of rapid-response community grantmaking

We are proud to share our final report on the Solidarity Fund for COVID-19 Organizing, which moved $810,000 to 83 grassroots community organizing groups in one year using a rapid-response community grantmaking process.

View the report below or download it as a pdf.

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

We are proud to announce the first round of Kensington Community Resilience Fund grants. The Kensington Community Resilience Fund is a public-private-community partnership between the Kensington community, regional funders, Bread & Roses Community Fund, and the city of Philadelphia. The fund supports 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 July 14, the Community Advisory Committee for the fund announced that $10,000 grants were awarded to twenty grantees:

Community Center at Visitation provides a safe place to connect residents to resources and a central location for recreation, educational programs, and health services. A grant from this fund will support one year of hosting family-friendly monthly dinners and resource fairs. 

Good Host Plants is a native plant nursery promoting biodiversity in the region by growing open-pollinated, local-ecotype plants. A grant from this fund will help them convert five to ten empty lots into community pollinator gardens. 

Harrowgate Civic Association strives to help the Harrowgate community become a safe and beautiful community. This grant will go toward their plan to help residents with neighborhood cleaning by distributing trash cans and other cleaning supplies. 

Hart Lane Neighborhood Farm is a  group of neighbors and stakeholders dedicated to creating and tending to a healing, safe urban farm in the Kensington community. This grant will help them replace broken sidewalks in their garden and reconnect the space safely to the neighborhood with an ADA- compliant access point. 

Kensington Soccer Club provides high-quality soccer and youth development programming for everyone, regardless of ability to pay. This grant will support their core programming, which includes connecting families to legal assistance, health care, college financial aid, and leadership development.

Papermill Food Hub is an all-volunteer operation that provides weekly deliveries of food, diapers, and other supplies to Kensington, Fishtown, and Port Richmond families in need. This grant will support them in renting permanent space to store and prepare food for their weekly deliveries, launch a garden to grow produce for families, and hire a staff member to lead garden classes with neighborhood children. 

Photography Without Borders teaches young artists to tell their stories through photography to a wider audience. This grant will be used to expand their youth photography program to Kensington Health Sciences Academy in an after-school setting. 

Power Street Theatre is dedicated to connecting multicultural and intergenerational communities through the performing arts by sharing original stories that innovate and inspire. This grant will support their programs, including free bilingual performance and playwriting classes.

Providence Center provides children, teens, and adults a safe space to overcome trauma and grow to their full potential. This grant will be used to hire former Trauma Ambassadors in the recruitment and training of a new cohort. 

Ride Free provides Kensington- area youth with opportunities for creative self-expression, skill-building, and mentorship that help them envision a positive future and avoid or build pathways out of cycles of trauma, violence, and incarceration. This grant will complete their new studio’s fit-out with professional-grade instruments and equipment. 

Rock Ministries directly addresses many of the needs of the Kensington neighborhood: youth activities, addictions treatment assistance, homelessness, GED education, street cleaning, beautification, and more. This grant will fund a subscription to medical record software that tracks patient treatment and a mini-split heating/cooling system to operate their Wellness Center year-round. 

Sisters Returning Home help women returning from prison to re-establish connections to family and community and build and develop self-esteem, self-respect, self-confidence, and self-sufficiency. This grant will support ongoing programming and beds and bedding for clients transitioning into long-term housing. 

The Sisters of Saint Joseph Welcome Center offers immigrants and others opportunities to access education, support and free legal services, and programs leading to self-sufficiency. This grant will improve their ESOL and Citizenship Test Preparation Classes and expand their Outreach program that provides food and gift cards to students.

Taller Puertorriqueño is a community-based cultural organization whose primary purpose is to preserve, develop, and promote Puerto Rican arts and culture. This grant will support investments in staff, upgrading data entry technology capacity, general operations, and educational arts programming. 

Team NAS is a volunteer group of resident leaders that elevates neighborhood voices, connects residents to resources that promote wellness, and addresses inequities through advocacy and local action. This grant will support them in creating a cooperative neighborhood-wide block initiative through ongoing outreach, providing needed equipment, and cultivating platforms for neighborhood exchange and celebration. 

The Block Gives Back targets issues within the Philadelphia community and devises plans to recruit local volunteers, businesses, organizations, and community leaders to help in working toward a solution. This grant will be used to support ongoing programming such as affordable events and services to youth aged 5-24 in the Kensington neighborhood. 

The Salvation Army operates the New Day Drop-In Center, a safe, trauma-informed, welcoming, and non-judgmental space for sex workers and survivors of human trafficking. These funds will be used to maintain staff, cover transportation costs to appointments, purchase supplies for clients, secure increased security measures, and other operational costs. 

The Simple Way supports neighbors in building a neighborhood where everyone can belong and thrive and collaborates locally to increase neighborhood food security. This grant will be used to pay one of their current volunteers, digitize systems, and purchase inventory software. 

Urban Extreme Youth Development helps to rebuild communities by influencing the lives of youth and their families in addressing education, health, economic, and social needs. This grant will help them implement programming for mentoring, youth community engagement, and family engagement and support a third Bold and Beautiful Girls Conference to build power among female Kensington High School students. 

Youth United for Change develops young leaders in Philadelphia with a critical political, historical, and economic understanding of society and empowers them to improve the quality of their lives and communities. This grant will provide stipends for members to participate in community outreach efforts for their upcoming community campaign dealing with trash and litter. 

Grantee Profile: Asian Americans United

In the last year, 3,800 cases of anti-Asian violence were documented across the country—97 of them in Pennsylvania. Experts believe the numbers are much higher but that many incidents go unreported because of language barriers or fear of repercussions. Asian Americans United (AAU), an Equitable Public Space Fund and Solidarity Fund for COVID-19 Organizing grantee, is working to address the rise in anti-Asian violence and expand access to critical services by organizing vigils and online town halls in collaboration with other Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) groups to reach across languages and neighborhoods. 

“There is a long history of anti-Asian violence in this country. COVID is another reason for this violence,” says Wei Chen, AAU’s Civic Engagement Coordinator. “AAU has always been an ally to fight for racial equity and justice for all people of color, not just Asian Americans. We tie our struggle to Black Lives Matter because this fight against racial hate cannot be done without allies. We are seeing huge support at his moment from the Black community.”

“We tie our struggle to Black Lives Matter because this fight against racial hate cannot be done without allies.”

Wei Chen

AAU was founded in 1982 to build community power among people of Asian ancestry in order to challenge oppression and advocate for the needs of immigrants, refugees, and non-English speakers. Their Youth Leadership Development programs engage both Chinese immigrant youth and Asian American youth in community organizing for social justice. 

Early in the pandemic, AAU hosted online town halls with community leaders to discuss the growing violence. They brought together staff from Victim/Witness Services of South Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, and the city’s Department of Behavioral Health to share resources. “It’s very important to talk about mental health resources that are available for people as they are dealing with fear and stress about anti-Asian violence and the pandemic,” Chen says. “It is still hard to access these services because of language issues and because our community is not used to going to therapy or talking about mental health, but we have to start talking about it.” 

Immediately following the March mass shooting that killed 8 people in Atlanta-area spas, 6 of whom were Asian, AAU organized a citywide vigil. “Our community feels tired and angry because this violence is not being recognized as a hate crime,” Chen says. “We wanted to honor the victims who lost their lives and to wake people up about what’s going on in our country.” 

In April, community members gathered at AAU’s vigil against anti-Asian violence following a mass shooting targeting Asian women at several locations in Atlanta, Georgia.

In April, AAU began a series of online teach-ins about the history of the Asian-American experience in Philadelphia. “It’s an opportunity for political education and to understand our struggle in this land. It’s been very inspiring for young people,” Chen says. 

AAU is producing a safety booklet to help the AAPI community respond to hate crimes, including how to protect themselves, report incidents, and access victim services and mental health support. AAU is working with other AAPI organizations, including VietLead and the Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia, to translate the guide into a number of languages. The guide will be available in Summer 2021.

Environmental Justice Fund moves $180,000 to movements fighting environmental racism

EMMA MEDINA-CASTREJON

In March 2021, Bread & Roses Community Fund’s Environmental Justice Fund made $180,000 in grants to 18 grassroots groups using community organizing to promote equitable access to clean and healthy environments for communities in the Philadelphia region most impacted by environmental racism and climate change. Money for the fund was raised and distributed through Bread & Roses’ Environmental Justice Giving Project.

 “When we think about environmental justice, we often think about the melting polar ice caps and changing weather, but where environmental injustice is felt most acutely is in Black and Brown neighborhoods,” says director of donor organizing Nigel Charles. A new study published in the journal Science Advances reports that across the United States, people of color breathe more hazardous air than white people and are exposed to disproportionately more environmental risks. A 2019 report by the Philadelphia Office of Sustainability found that the city’s poorest neighborhoods are as much as 22 degrees hotter because they have fewer green spaces and trees and more exposed asphalt.

Environmental Justice Fund grantees are working across the region to dismantle environmental racism by fighting health hazards, pushing for policy reform, promoting urban agriculture, and expanding access to fresh produce, clean water, and green spaces. Grantees Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living (CRCQL, pronounced “circle”) and Energy Justice Network are collaborating to shut down the Covanta trash incinerator in the city of Chester. The country’s largest and most polluting incinerator, it burns 3,500 tons of trash and industrial waste a day, releasing toxins into the air. Chester’s rate of child hospitalization for asthma is more than three times the state average, says CRCQL chairperson Zulene Mayfield. 

Currently, the two groups are pressuring Delaware County not to renew its contract with Covanta by meeting with public officials, testifying before municipalities, and holding rallies. Four Delaware County municipalities recently issued Zero Waste resolutions. More are being considered. “This is the first time we’ve had municipalities go on record saying they want the county to study alternatives to burning trash,” says Energy Justice Network executive director Mike Ewall. 

Philadelphia sends 42% of its trash to incinerators in Pennsylvania—the majority goes to Chester, Ewall says. The city’s waste contracts are up for renewal in summer 2023. Working with City Council’s Committee on the Environment, Ewall drafted a bill to ban the city from contracting to burn trash or recyclables. 

“Where [Covanta] once had us all thinking we were fighting these battles alone, now we have strength in numbers.” 

Zulene Mayfield, CRCQL chairperson

In Camden, Energy Justice Network and Environmental Justice Fund grantee Camden for Clear Air are gaining traction against the Covanta incinerator there. The two groups helped stop a plan to use the incinerator to power a proposed emergency microgrid for Camden’s sewage treatment plant. In March, the microgrid’s developer announced that it revised its design to run on solar, anaerobic digestion, and battery power. “It went from being the dirtiest way to power the grid to one of the cleanest,” Ewall says. Mayfield adds: “Where [Covanta] once had us all thinking we were fighting these battles alone, now we have strength in numbers.”

Read about all of our Environmental Justice Fund grantees.

Donor Profile: Oona Coy

Why I give:

“This is about how we share power,

not just resources, but power.

Partnering with Bread & Roses

was a way to do that.”

Oona Coy
Oona Coy

When the Merck Family Fund made a grant to support Bread & Roses’ recent Environmental Justice Giving Project, it was the first time the foundation experimented with a community-driven grantmaking process. For Oona Coy, then a Merck Trustee, it was the culmination of three years of research to locate the right partnership that excited her family and aligned with the foundation’s priorities.  

“I believe there should be a lot more decision makers around how money moves and where it moves,” Coy says. “People on the ground know what’s happening on the ground and can see where money is needed, where it will be most useful, and where it will go furthest.” 

“For years I was trying to figure out how to introduce participatory grantmaking to the foundation,” she says. In 2018, Coy and a program officer began meeting with Philadelphia-based grantees of the foundation’s Urban Agriculture program to explore ways to directly involve them in decision making. Several grantees had participated in a Bread & Roses Giving Project and they encouraged Coy to explore that process. “They spoke really highly of their experiences going through it. Following the lead of our grantees felt really important to me.”  

It took some convincing. “My family cares deeply about the planet so one point I really pushed them on is: I don’t think we’re going to solve climate change without looking at racial justice and economic justice and environmental justice.” 

“This is about how we share power, not just resources but power. Partnering with Bread & Roses was a way to do that.”  

Solidarity Fund for COVID-19 Organizing moves $743,000 to grassroots community organizing groups responding to the pandemic

Within weeks of the pandemic erupting, Bread & Roses Community Fund launched the Solidarity Fund for COVID-19 Organizing, a rapid-response emergency fund for community organizing. Since April 8, 2020, the fund has distributed $743,000 to 76 grassroots community organizing groups in the Philadelphia region; over 20 were first-time Bread & Roses grantees.

“As soon as we saw the scale of the pandemic and how its economic fallout was landing hardest on communities already targeted by systems of oppression, we knew we were going to need community organizing more than ever,” says executive director Casey Cook. While local and regional foundations responded quickly to the pandemic, most restricted emergency funds to existing grantees or established social service organizations. This left out small grassroots groups that were struggling to survive due to loss of revenue and suddenly had to adapt to remote organizing during lockdown.

To respond to this critical need, Bread & Roses immediately began raising money. It also made an unprecedented decision: for the first time ever, grants were distributed to unincorporated non-profit associations. “New movements were emerging in response to the pandemic,” Cook says. “We wanted to support this urgent work and pivoted quickly to meet the moment.” Money for the Solidarity Fund came from hundreds of individuals and a half dozen foundations. The fund raised more money than any other Bread & Roses program. For One Fair Wage (OFW), the grant supports organizing restaurant workers during the pandemic. Tipped workers face particular hardships because unemployment is based on their $2.83/hour base pay. OFW is a national coalition campaigning for fair wages for tipped and subminimum wage workers. Their new Pennsylvania chapter is educating Philadelphia workers and training them as activists. “We are amplifying the voices of tipped workers,” says OFW’s Pennsylvania organizer Tsehaitu Abye. “We’re building their power to be leaders in the movement.”

“New movements were emerging in response to the pandemic. We wanted to support this urgent work and pivoted quickly to meet the moment.”

Casey Cook, executive director

For Asian Americans United (AAU), the grant helped combat anti-Asian violence, which rose sharply because of COVID-19’s origins in China. AAU hosted online community forums with Asian leaders to discuss the growing violence and share resources. It met with public school teachers to inform curricula addressing racism and violence. AAU also distributed thousands of masks and gloves with Chinatown Dragonboat and worked with Asian Mosaic Fund on a COVID-19 community relief fund drive. “The grant helped sustain us as an organization because we couldn’t earn money on programs that usually support our work,” says AAU executive director Alix Webb.

For Power Street Theatre, the grant supports its work connecting grassroots organizing and the arts. In June, the collective of multicultural, multidisciplinary artists organized a Digital Rally for Philly Arts in response to massive cuts in City arts funding in the wake of COVID-19. Livestreamed for 24 hours, the rally drew 11,000 views. Building on that success, it hosted a second digital rally in February, focused on the 2021 City budget process. “This grant affirms the work of artists,” says co-founder and co-artistic director Gabi Sanchez. “Bread & Roses trusts that the stories we share will have a big impact on the city.”

Read about all of our Solidarity Fund grantees.

Grantee Profile: Soil Generation

“Black and Brown folks have been farming in Philadelphia for generations,” says Kirtrina Baxter, a community organizer with Soil Generation. The farmers transformed abandoned lots into community gardens and gathering spaces. Now, developers are buying the land out from under farmers to build condominiums, threatening food sources in neighborhoods that already lack grocery stores. People should be able to keep this land as a service to the community,” Baxter says. “Neighborhood farms and community gardens are so important, especially during COVID when people need healthy food in their community.”

Soil Generation, a coalition of Black and Brown farmers and advocates, is leading the fight to ensure that people of color regain community control of land for growing food. The coalition, an Equitable Public Space Fund grantee, formed in 2013 to advocate for urban growers in Philadelphia’s rapidly gentrifying environment.

In 2018, Soil Generation launched the Threatened Gardens Campaign, its most ambitious to date. The campaign kicked off with a protest at City Hall with hundreds of farmers and advocates. This show of community support led to Soil Generation winning the contract to write Philadelphia’s first-ever Urban Agriculture Strategic Plan with the planning firm Interface Studios. The plan will establish goals for how the city can support urban agriculture, including cutting through bureaucratic obstacles that impede Black and Brown farmers from purchasing land. “Over the next five years, we look forward to having more opportunities for collective ownership, which leads to community control of land,” Baxter says.

Soil Generation’s work is rooted in agroecology, a community-led process that values ancestral growing practices and aligns agricultural production with community organizing for land rights and food sovereignty. They are producing an agroecology manual, which will be available digitally in December 2020 and in print in spring 2021. Baxter hopes it can be used as an organizing tool for people working to reclaim land and as a guide for people starting community gardens.

For Soil Generation, there is power in gardening. Baxter emphasizes: “Gardening is a radical act of resistance. By growing food, you are taking control of your own community.”

Remembering Linda Richardson

Linda Richardson during the time she served as co-director of The People’s Fund. Photo: Harvey Finkle

We are sad to announce the passing of Linda Richardson, an amazing activist who helped shape Bread & Roses Community Fund for more than four decades. She passed suddenly on November 2.

“Linda was an inspiring leader, activist, and champion for justice,” says executive director Casey Cook. “Her passing is a huge loss for our whole community and she will be missed.”

In 1972, Linda was hired as a co-director of The People’s Fund (the predecessor organization to Bread & Roses) alongside Michael Seltzer. Seltzer recalls that Linda “brought a real commitment to grassroots communities and held relationships with them.” They worked together for several years as co-directors and both went on to serve on the board. “Her determination and passion for all of the Delaware Valley’s community organizing efforts were an inspiration to all who knew her,” Seltzer says. “Decades before the term ‘intersectionality’ took upon currency in today’s political discourse, she incorporated it into her own world view and practice.”

When Linda and Michael came on as co-directors, The People’s Fund was making $12,000 a year in grants to groups like the Black Panthers that were too radical to get funding from traditional philanthropy. They worked together to raise funds and distribute them to grassroots community organizing groups in the region. “She was truly the best colleague that I ever had the privilege to work with in my 50 year-long social justice career,” says Seltzer. “She may also have been the first woman of color in Philadelphia’s history to lead a grantmaking organization. Linda touched so many lives through her activism and leadership. We are all her legacy.”

Linda Richardson, at left, tabling for The People’s Fund in the mid 1970s. Photo: Harvey Finkle

Throughout the decades to come, Linda remained connected and committed to Bread & Roses as a political home. Denise Brown served as associate director of Bread & Roses from 1998 to 2005 and served on the board from 2007 to 2019. “I had the honor and privilege of working with three generations of Linda’s family,” Brown recounts. Bertha Waters, Linda’s mother, was involved as a volunteer, Linda was a donor and committee member, and Aissia Richardson, Linda’s daughter, served on the board and on the community funding board. “Their commitment was very much a living, breathing thing,” she says. “I personally always felt their support and mentorship.”

Christie Balka, who served as executive director of Bread & Roses from 1997 to 2006, remembers Linda as “an astute political observer and a font of information about the city.” Balka describes Linda’s continued contributions to Bread & Roses during her tenure as executive director: “She advised Bread and Roses staff, referred potential grantees to us, and of course continued to hold Bread and Roses accountable to the needs of the city’s Black community and other communities of color.”

Like Brown, Balka saw Linda as a mentor. “Linda was always available to me for any reason and taught me some enduring lessons about progressive philanthropy and working in coalition with other groups,” she says.

“She was a force,” says Brown. “Linda was strategic, fierce, committed, generous, and loving in the way that she loved her community, she loved Black people, she loved the work that she did. That came across.”

“Linda commanded respect because of her authenticity,” remembers Seltzer. “People followed her wisdom and trusted her.”

Most recently, in 2017, Linda served on the planning committee for Bread & Roses’ 40th anniversary Tribute to Change celebration.

Linda Richardson, center, celebrates the second decade of Bread & Roses at a Tribute to Change event in the early 1980s. Photo: Harvey Finkle

Outside of Bread & Roses, Linda was a prolific and tireless organizer. She founded the Black United Fund, Uptown Entertainment & Development Corporation, Uptown Cultural District, and led the fight to save and restore the Uptown Theater.

Elicia Gonzales, Bread & Roses board member and executive director of Women’s Medical Fund, shares a story about Linda’s legacy in today’s organizing. “The Women’s Medical Fund team had the privilege of meeting Linda last year and hearing about her fight for reproductive justice before it was a coined term,” she says. “In the 1970s, she and other Black women organized Triple Jeopardy (named that because they were poor, Black, women) and the fought for full healthcare access, including abortion. Her love of community, art, family, and justice will be her legacy for generations to come. May she rest in power.”

Linda’s family shared her obituary, which can be downloaded as a pdf here.

November 21: 74th Birthday Celebration and Memorial Service for Linda Richardson

Linda’s family has shared that they are holding a 74th birthday celebration and memorial service for Linda on Saturday, November 21 from 4pm to 6pm in front of the Uptown Theater at 2240 N. Broad Street. It will also be live-streamed on Facebook. 

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Uptown Entertainment & Development Corporation at 2227 N. Broad Street, 19132 or online at this link.

We invite you to share your remembrances of Linda’s life and legacy by writing a comment on this post.

Why we need community organizers in the time of COVID-19

Our executive director Casey Cook recently published an op-ed in WHYY describing the story behind the creation of our Solidarity Fund for COVID-19 Organizing. The Solidarity Fund was launched on April 8, 2020 to meet the urgent needs of grassroots community organizing groups that have either been impacted by COVID-19 or are organizing in response to the pandemic.

Casey writes:

“The work of grassroots community organizers is critical to ensuring a just and humane response from governments, corporations, and other institutions… This pandemic is a time of historic disruption and pain. If we’re not careful, it could also be a time of historic injustice. Philadelphia’s robust and dedicated network of community organizers will work hard to prevent that — but they need our help.”

Read the full article on WHYY’s website:

Why we need community organizers in the time of COVID-19