Reinvestment Fund grants Bread & Roses $15,000 for advancing social, racial, and economic justice

Bread & Roses will receive a $15,000 Community Champion Award from Reinvestment Fund in recognition of its work supporting grassroots organizing for change, and to fuel that work in the future.

“We deeply appreciate this award from our friends at Reinvestment Fund,” said Bread & Roses Executive Director Casey Cook. “We share their commitment to advancing equity and justice for all, and we know that supporting grassroots organizing is critical for delivering that vision. This award will help us reach our goal of moving more than half a million dollars to local movements for change in 2020. We need the support of institutions like Reinvestment Fund if we’re going to see real change within our lifetimes.”

The Community Champion Award is a small grants program that recognizes nonprofit organizations that are aligned with Reinvestment Fund’s own mission. Awardees are selected by an appointed staff committee that makes its selection from a pool of organizations nominated by staff. The selection is approved by Reinvestment Fund’s Community Advisory Board. In most instances, the organizations have volunteers that are Reinvestment Fund staff or another existing relationship. In this case, the history goes back decades. Reinvestment Fund was incubated at Bread & Roses before spinning off in 1985.

“It is such an honor for us to be able to give back to Bread & Roses,” said Don Hinkle-Brown, President and CEO of Reinvestment Fund. “Their support shaped Reinvestment Fund in many ways in our formative years and created the foundation for our growth into the national, mission-driven financial institution that we are today.”

Bread & Roses was nominated for the award by Reinvestment Fund’s Director and Philadelphia Market Leader, Elizabeth Frantz.

Person smiling wearing red sweater and necklace looking at camera

“Bread & Roses is a unique funder of community organizing in the Philadelphia region. Many of its grantees would not be able to undertake the great work that they do without Bread & Roses, and I wanted to support this movement building in Philadelphia.”

Elizabeth Frantz, nominator

Drug users organize to reduce harm and save lives

In 2018, more than 1,100 people died of drug overdoses in Philadelphia. People affected by this crisis of premature death are organizing to save their own lives, often taking a harm reduction approach. “Harm reduction is a movement led by drug users to keep people safe, give them agency, remove stigmatization and marginalization, give people platforms who might not have had one, and allow people to recognize their voice and learn how to use it,” says David Tomlinson, founding member of Philadelphia Drug Users’ Union, a Future Fund grantee. “It’s a social justice movement that’s based on equity, not equality.”

Project SAFE, a Gender Justice Fund and Racial & Economic Justice Fund grantee, works with people engaged in street economies. “We view harm reduction as a philosophical approach to a set of societal and legal problems,” says Gus Grannan, Project SAFE’s harm reduction coordinator. “It deals with people at the intersections of a lot of different stigmas and legal statuses that work to minimize the physical, psychological harm that people are exposed to.”

Harm reduction can occur on an individual level (administering Narcan to someone who is overdosing) or a policy level. “We see a lot of the harms that we help to address, both around sex work and around drug use, as caused by the legal structures around them rather than the activities themselves,” says Grannan. “One of our long-term goals is to work for decriminalization of sex work and decriminalization of all drug use. When we do work with other organizations and we make alliances, we recognize that that’s not going to happen next week, but that is our vision.”

Philadelphia Drug Users’ Union and Project SAFE collaborate with Racial & Economic Justice Fund grantee ACT UP Philadelphia, SOL Collective, and ally groups in other regions to demand overdose prevention sites where people can use drugs in a sanitary environment. In an April 25 Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed, Project SAFE members Aisha Mohammed and Amna Shaikh made the case for overdose prevention sites as tools for racial justice: “Overdose prevention sites address [the race-based harms of the war on drugs] by offering communities of color an alternative to public use, which exposes them to the risk of arrest and incarceration. … They help underserved communities access much-needed services for addiction to any drug—not just the type of drug that is more closely associated with use by white people.”

People organizing to open overdose prevention sites won a victory in October when a federal judge ruled that Safehouse, a proposed site in Philadelphia, does not violate federal law—the first win in a series of legal challenges.

Donor Profile: the Pien Family

Why we give:
“It makes us feel really interconnected with the destiny of Philadelphia.”

Andrea Pien
Howard Pien, at left, and his daughter Andrea

“Bread & Roses is able to connect seemingly very disparate populations in the Philadelphia area in a way that recognizes everyone’s humanity,” says Andrea Pien. “They facilitate cross-race, cross-class conversations that can be uncomfortable but enable learning and growth and enable us to fund more movements more successfully.”

Pien gives to Bread & Roses along with her parents, Howard and Diane, and her sister, Catarina. “I feel a lot of gratitude to the racial and economic justice movement that enabled my family to move to the United States from Taiwan,” says Pien. “All of these movements were grassroots movements that were planned and thought out and needed to be funded. I grew up in the United States with a fundamental understanding of my rights, knowing I can sit anywhere on the bus and drink from any water fountain that I want. But, we still have so much further to go.”

The Pien family made a special gift this year to support Bread & Roses’ infrastructure, which helped make the office move possible. “With technology we can do things virtually, but there’s nothing that compares with sitting down face to face and hearing somebody’s story, and infrastructure and space are the way to do that,” says Pien. “Important grassroots movements have to happen in a space. Space has been taken away; the history of gentrification is space being taken away. Allowing for sound space and infrastructure is a really crucial, if not glamorous, way to support grassroots movements.”

$160,000 in Gender Justice Fund grants announced

Members of the 2019 Gender Justice Giving project practice one-on-one fundraising with each other.

We are proud to announce that Bread & Roses made $160,000 in grants this October to 16 groups organizing to mobilize women, girls, transgender, and gender-nonconforming people to make change in the Philadelphia region. The money for these grants was raised by the 2019 Gender Justice Giving Project.

“Bread & Roses sees things that no other organization tends to see.”

Sappho Fulton, 2018 and 2019 Gender Justice Fund grantee quoted in Philly Gay News

The grant announcement was covered by Philly Gay News and Generocity.

Grantee Profile: Sappho and LaRoyce Foundation

In October, Sappho and LaRoyce Foundation held an event for families to explore intergenerational trauma and toxic masculinity through mindfulness practices and artmaking.

Like many grassroots groups, Sappho and LaRoyce Foundation emerged when people got together to share their stories and take action. “I started having conversations with other lesbian women,” says co-founder Sappho Fulton. “They were going through a lot of nonsense in their relationships and they didn’t understand why they stayed, and I said we’ve got to do something collectively to help ourselves.”

The group formed in May 2018 with a mission to “educate, elevate, and empower LGBTQ and women of color to sustain holistic healing,” says Fulton. Sappho and LaRoyce Foundation received a grant from the Future Fund followed by a grant from the Gender Justice Fund. One of their core activities is facilitating support groups. “It is really about community,” Fulton says. “I see it as creating and opening up space for everybody so we can grow together and learn from one another.”

In addition to establishing spaces for mutual support and caretaking, Sappho and LaRoyce Foundation is working on a campaign to pass an updated Violence Against Women Act, which would add protections for transgender people. Because this legislation has stagnated in the Senate since April, Sappho and LaRoyce Foundation is working to push it forward by writing letters, meeting with local representatives, and learning about other advocacy tools.

As the organization grows, Fulton foresees expanding their work to engage trans men and LGBTQ youth in dialogue about domestic abuse. Fulton reflects on the group’s evolving role: “It went from my own personal experience being the motivating factor to addressing community needs from a holistic lens, from a broader lens. So, we have grown up and grown out.”

Executive director Casey Cook receives community leadership award

Casey Cook stands with Urban Affairs Coalition President & CEO Sharmain Matlock-Turner.

Bread & Roses executive director Casey Cook was honored with a Community Leadership Award from the Friends of the Urban Affairs Coalition on November 22. The award was given to recognize Cook as a leader in philanthropy and to honor her demonstrated commitment to community before self, which is one of the core principles of the Friends of the Urban Affairs Coalition.

Seven people smiling and facing camera, person at center is holding an award
Casey Cook, center, poses with Bread & Roses staff members and current and former board members at the event

Board co-chair Jennifer Jordan writes powerful op-ed about Giving Projects for the Philadelphia Inquirer

Jennifer Jordan, co-chair of the board of Bread & Roses Community Fund, just published an op-ed in The Philadelphia Inquirer exploring how Giving Projects transform the conventional wisdom in philanthropy.

Jennifer Jordan (right, front) practices fundraising pitches with her Giving Project group.

She writes: “In the fall of 2017, on the heels of the white supremacist Charlottesville rally and other unsettling displays of anti-black vitriol, Bread & Roses convened a Giving Project to raise money for black-led, black-centered organizing here in Philly. I signed up and the experience transformed me.”

Read the full article: Philanthropy fails in its approach to inequality. Here’s a way to change it.

Meet Donor Ha Pham

Why I give:
“I try to understand how [my family] did so much for me by putting myself in their place and doing it for others.”

Ha Pham

For Ha Pham, a 2018 Gender Justice Giving Project member, giving to Bread & Roses is rooted in relationships: “I give to support my community: the work they do and the environment they create. But on a more personal level, I am motivated by my mother and my grandmother — by thinking about the things they endured in life and being aware of the system they lived within. They laid plans that grew through so many seeds. They brought me here as one of those seeds, and now I feel the need to carry their work on. I try to understand how they did so much for me by putting myself in their place and doing it for others.”

Participating in a Giving Project was a transformative experience for Pham: “It changed a lot of things for me. The Giving Project felt like everything was coming together. Being a part of that community made me feel whole — the sense of community moved me. When I hear the word ‘movement,’ I think about moving forward, determination. Like the movement that drives a protest. But the Giving Project moved me in a different way. It wasn’t movement to a destination, but more like movement into daily life.”

After the Giving Project, Pham continued her involvement by joining the 2019 Tribute to Change planning committee. She is organizing the members of her Giving Project to be a collective sponsor of the Tribute to Change.

Grantee Profile: Agape African Senior Center

The Agape African Senior Center, a Black-led, Black-centered Organizing Fund and Immigration Justice Fund grantee, was founded in 2000 by immigrants and refugees of African descent. Their mission, in the words of founder Rev. Dr. John Jallah, is to “organize to help aging refugees and immigrants cope with life.” In the beginning, Agape members met once a week to develop an understanding of how government worked in Philadelphia. A 2004 grant from Bread & Roses Community Fund was the Center’s first source of funding.

Elderly African and Caribbean immigrants and refugees living in Philadelphia face economic, cultural, social, and language barriers. The Agape African Senior Center’s English as a Second Language classes, residency and citizenship assistance, skills trainings, and peer support group aim to build a base to take collective action.

“The first win has been to get senior citizens out of their homes and to participate,” Jallah says. The Center’s programming enables community members to independently navigate the city, addressing the isolation often experienced by elderly immigrants and refugees. 

The Center’s inclusion campaign calls on the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging to re-direct funding to community-led organizations that meet the specific needs of aging African and Caribbean immigrants and refugees, who face discrimination accessing health care and other services available to seniors. The campaign hopes to ensure that the “10,000 aging African and Caribbean immigrants are treated like other aging Philadelphians,” says Jallah.

Members of the Agape African Senior Center advocate for their needs at the city level by serving on the newly formed African Caribbean Advisory Body as well as the Mayor’s Commission on African and Caribbean Immigrant Affairs. “Our community already has organizations,” says Jallah. “Our community should be empowered to serve our people and our refugees.”