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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
In a groundbreaking partnership between the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity (CEO) and Bread & Roses Community Fund, the Neighborhood Equitable Recovery Fund distributed $825,000 in federal COVID-19 relief funds to 55 grassroots groups serving communities of color and poor communities, which have been hardest hit by the pandemic. What makes this partnership so unique is that for the first time ever CEO distributed grants through a participatory grantmaking process in which residents from affected communities determined funding priorities, evaluated applications, and decided where grants would go in their neighborhoods.
“For CEO, the community grantmaking process was an intentional shift from our traditional approach to philanthropy to one that centers the lived experience of those most impacted,” says CEO executive director Mitchell Little. “We wanted to broaden the definition of ‘expertise’ and ensure that solutions come from the ground up.”
Over two rounds of grantmaking, 30 community members, who were trained and supported by Bread & Roses, worked together to determine the best approaches to equitable recovery in their neighborhoods. “We had to be disciplined about taking the time and trusting the process,” Little says. “Part of the process was letting go of power and allowing the voices in the room and the organic maturation of the work get to a decision point.”
LaTrista Webb, who served on the Community Grantmaking Committee, says: “It was an empowering process to come to a consensus with a group of people from totally different backgrounds about what equity looks like and what recovery looks like for your community. Usually, grants are read by people sitting behind desks who don’t actually do the work,” Webb says. “Many of us on the committee are community organizers so we can speak to the need in the community and the work that a particular organization is doing.”
Grantees included groups focused on health education, food distribution, family support, and community organizing to address barriers to support. The program was funded by a Community Service Block Grant through CEO.
Webb adds that training and guidance from Bread & Roses staff was key to the community-driven process: “Bread & Roses is very intentional in making sure that spaces are safe and that you can be honest about how you feel, and that there is a mix of races, social status, and power structure—a mix of people being intentional about the lives our decisions affect.”
Eva Gladstein, the City’s deputy managing director for health and human services, echoes this sentiment: “Bread & Roses understands the value of the process—making sure community members have the training they need and giving it the time needed to make sure everybody is participating to the best of their ability so that everybody is very comfortable with the decisions. Bread & Roses has a long history of doing this work that other philanthropies are in the learning stages around.” Gladstein says. “This is a very precious skill.”
We are proud to announce 25 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.
Neighborhood Equitable Recovery Fund Round One Grantees
Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture is an Arab arts organization that uses the arts to empower and enrich youth and families in their community, including refugees and immigrants. This grant will support a 45-week program that offers weekly art therapy and counseling.
Ardella’s House is a service and advocacy organization whose mission is helping women with criminal justice histories realize new possibilities for themselves and their families. This grant will support AH’s work with recently released and/or formerly incarcerated women and their families, help sustain daily operations, and provide additional housing assistance. The Brothers of Strawberry Mansion collaborates with community organizations to provide parenting and leadership programs, youth workshops, educational trips, and community service opportunities. This grant will support their current services and aid in the development of additional programs aimed towards curbing violence.
Coalition of African Communities’ mission is to advocate and organize for immigrant and refugee empowerment. Africom serves families and individuals who are low-income, moderate-income, or who have limited-English proficiency. This grant will support Africom in responding to a new surge in requests for housing and utility assistance for families.
Endeavor provides low-cost after school and summer programs that serve North Philadelphia children and families. Programs focus on science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) skills building. This grant will support Endeavor in creating a new community space in North Philadelphia to support youth, families, and small businesses that focus on partnership rather than competition.
Food Not Bombs serves marginalized people of West Philly at the 46th Street El stop.. They spread love, respect, free food, and personal items to marginalized communities, regardless of race, gender, or other status. This grant will support purchase of supplies to continue and expand distribution when in-kind donations slow down.
Frontline Dads works to empower marginalized communities address social justice issues, achieve criminal justice reform, and enable community members to become transformative leaders. This grant will assist Frontline Dads in feeding people and providing resources and mutual aid to families in need. Funds will purchase supplies including PPE, emergency food, emergency transportation , and other essentials.
The Hope Empowerment Education and Train (HEET) works to revitalize the Tioga-Nicetown community by renovating its deteriorating housing stock and creating employment and training opportunities for disenfranchised adults and at-risk youth. This grant will support making HEET’s four-story, twenty thousand square foot building COVID-19 safe to enable and encourage increased participation in their training and housing programs.
The Iglesias Gardens is a community garden and offers education about gardening and vegetables and tending the land. This grant will support Spanish interpreters, childcare, and food at garden events and community meetings, and transportation to and from community meetings and protests.
The Mantua Civic Association (MCA) works to keep the residents of the Mantua community informed and engaged in decision-making regarding development projects in the community. This grant will support hiring a Communication Manager to bolster MCA’s ability to effectively communicate with stakeholders, share resources with residents, and coordinate outreach efforts.
Men Who Care of Germantown takes a tripartite approach to reduce gun violence in Philadelphia: prevention, intervention, and outreach. This grant will support Men Who Care in transforming their learning pods , which last year offered students the equipment needed to attend virtual schooling.
Mill Creek Urban Farm runs an educational urban farm located in West Philadelphia dedicated to improving local access to fresh produce, building a healthy community, and promoting a just and sustainable food system. This grant will support salaries to extend the farm season, allowing the farm team to work and prepare the land when the farm is not actively growing.
Neighborhood Bike Works uses bikes to deliver various education lessons while providing outlets for improving physical and mental health. This grant will support their youth programming and Bikes for Neighbors program by adding staff hours, paid jobs for youth, and supplies for refurbishing bikes.
ParaPower is a BIPOC-led organization fighting for School District of Philadelphia paraprofessionals to receive a living wage, real professional development, and pathways to certification. This grant will support the ParaPower Relief Fund, which is their mutual aid arm, and will help launch their first annual ParaPower Professional Development Seminar.
Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC) unites poor peo ple across color lines in building a movement to abolish poverty. This grant will support PPEHRC to expand their weekly food distributions, keep families out of shelters and off the streets, and provide more security for families in Kensington and across Philadelphia.
Power of Paint Art Academy & Management uses art and therapeutic approaches to improve the quality of life for LGBTQI+ and Black and Brown communities who have experienced trauma as a result of violence, discrimination, and limited access to resources. This grant will allow them to expand their programming by offering childcare, parenting classes, and workforce development.
Senior to Senior Community Outreach‘s mission is to improve the quality of life for elderly people throughout Philadelphia communities by providing supportive and preventive services to promote a healthier lifestyle. This grant will support seniors experiencing food insecurity with emergency financial assistance for basic needs and support families caring for a senior family member.
Sisters Returning Home provides services to the growing population of women who have recently been released from Philadelphia County Jails or Pennsylvania State Correctional Facilities. This grant will support Sisters Returning Home in providing rent assistance, connections to employment opportunities, training, and other waysto increase their clients’ household income.
The Equity Project offers holistic support for young people that addresses the personal, financial, legal, familial, and behavioral health consequences that flow from trauma to promote social justice, equity, and healing. This grant will sustain their space by providing eight months of rent.
Urban Tree Connection’s purpose is to cultivate and uplift Black working-class leadership by fostering land stewardship and equitable food practices. This grant will support their community leadership development, apprenticeship stipends, and staff labor.
We Care Learning and Development Center provides individualized education to address the unique learning styles of children while promoting character, supporting independence, and enabling them to contribute to their peer community in a meaningful and positive manner. This grant will support implementing and sustaining high-quality preschool programs that serve 3 to 5-year-old children in high-need communities.
We Love Philly provides students with positive community experiences and essential professional skills through mindfulness, volunteerism, entrepreneurship, and storytelling . This grant will provide stipends to ten youthto join the building trades pre-apprenticeship program.
weREIGN‘s (Rooting, Empowering, Inspiring a Girls’ Nation) long-term goal of is to advance issues of gender justice, specifically those issues that disproportionately negatively impact the lives of Black girls. This grant will support them in providing menstrual and reproductive health products as well as providing political education about period poverty, menstrual hygiene inequity, and other reproductive health inequities.
Women’s Institute for Family Health (WIFH) strives to increase awareness of racial and ethnic health disparities while developing strategies and services to reduce the rates of chronic and life-threatening illness among the most vulnerable poputlations of women . This grant will be used to pay for rent, utilities, and staff salaries, allowing WIFH to continue serving their community during the public health crisis.
Yoga 4 Philly exists to make peace, love, and healing accessible to everyone through yoga and meditation. This grant will be used to hire certified yoga instructors to teach children’s classes to more than 600 students, hire support staff to assist with class management, establish a student-led yoga club, and purchase cleaning materials to maintain sanitary requirements.
For Christine and Jackie Pappas, giving to Bread & Roses has opened a new chapter in their mother-daughter relationship. Christine grew up in Florida and came to Philadelphia in 2017 for a social work graduate program. When she joined the 2019 Gender Justice Giving Project, she wanted to reach a wider network, so she asked her mom to be her fundraising partner.
“One of the groups we ended up funding was the Pennsylvania Domestic Workers Alliance,’ Christine says. “I’m a domestic worker, a nanny, and a house cleaner. My mom is also a care worker, with elders. It was so powerful knowing that the groups we were raising money for understood care work to be not separate from gender justice, racial justice, and economic justice. Having the opportunity to fund those kinds of projects was really exciting to us.”
Christine and Jackie collaborated again for the 2020 and 2021 Future Funds: “It’s become part of our rhythm—moving and redistributing the resources we have to support this work.”
“This has been a transformational experience for us. It’s one thing to have conversations with people who identify as being part of social justice movements. My mom didn’t think of herself that way, but through the work she’s been able to claim that identity and has pushed herself in amazing ways.”
“There’s so much brilliance here in Philly. People have great ideas about how to solve all kinds of interconnected, multi-faceted problems. Bread & Roses gives them the room and resources to do that. I feel grateful to be part of it.”
We are pleased to announce that the Alfred and Mary Douty Foundation, which is sunsetting at the end of 2021, has named Bread & Roses Community Fund as the recipient of their remaining assets, which will be a gift of approximately $1 million.
For over 50 years, the Douty Foundation and Bread & Roses have been sibling organizations funding grassroots groups working for change in the Philadelphia region. When the Douty Foundation made the decision to sunset, they wanted to leave their remaining assets to an organization that was aligned with their mission. They wanted an organization that would use the money to advance racial, economic, and gender justice in the Philadelphia region, and they wanted an organization that held collective liberation as its end goal.
Bread & Roses is honored that the Douty Foundation is trusting our organization with the generous gift of their remaining assets, which will be one of the largest gifts our grassroots organization has ever received. We will use this gift to deepen our support for community organizing for racial, social, and economic justice in the Philadelphia region. We are grateful to be a part of their legacy going forward.
The Douty Foundation most recently supported the Kensington Community Resilience Fund and the Solidarity Fund for COVID-19 Organizing at Bread & Roses. The $1 million gift to Bread & Roses was announced at the same time as $1.2 million in legacy grants to nine local organizations, including Bread & Roses grantees National Domestic Workers Alliance — Pennsylvania Chapter, Coalition of African Communities (AFRICOM), and African Family Health Organization (AFAHO).