Tag Archives: Black-led Black-centered Organizing Fund

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.” 

Meet donor Jordyn Myers

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Jordyn Myers

Why I give:
“I trust that Bread & Roses is giving money to people who know what they’re talking about, are doing the work, and are not being funded by a lot of other organizations because they’re pushing against the status quo.”

After spending a year interning at Bread & Roses, Jordyn Myers decided to join the Fall 2017 Giving Project, which raised money and made grants in the Black-led, Black-centered Organizing Fund. “I wanted to be in a space where I could think about how fundraising could be done in an anti-capitalist, anti-racist way,” she says.

Black-identified members of the Giving Project led the process. “The facilitators and the people in it worked really hard for it to be a space where marginalized people were believed,” Myers says. “Once you start believing marginalized people, there’s this priority on the power of their ideas, the power of what we had to say. That was probably the first time I had been in a space like that.”

Prioritizing the voices of people of color made the process more efficient. “It was a space that was so much easier for me to share freely,” Myers says. “I never felt like, ‘I have to say this, because if I don’t say this nobody else would say it.’ It felt like the people of color caucus had each other’s backs. We were prepared for that, because we were just believed. We did a lot less defending ourselves.”

Through their personal donations and fundraising, Myers and her fellow Giving Project members raised enough money to make $130,000 in grants for Black-led, Black-centered organizing this spring.

Grantee Profile: Amistad Law Project

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Amistad Law Project members (left to right) Sean West, Kempis “Ghani” Songster, Nikki Grant, and Kris Henderson provide legal services to people incarcerated in Pennsylvania.

“We absolutely have to improve conditions for people who are incarcerated now, but it’s also possible to have this world where we don’t put people in cages at all.”

— Kris Henderson

In 2014, friends Kris Henderson and Nikki Grant had been organizing against mass incarceration with Decarcerate PA for several years and had just graduated from law school. “We wanted to figure out how to make our organizing work a part of our jobs and our legal work,” says Henderson. They founded Amistad Law Project to provide legal services to incarcerated people and to push to abolish prisons.

Amistad Law Project received grants from three Bread & Roses funds this year — the Black-led, Black-centered Organizing Fund, the Phoebus Criminal Justice Initiative, and the Racial & Economic Justice Fund — for a total of $25,000, the maximum amount an organization can receive from Bread & Roses in one fiscal year.

“I really like the process of going to an interview at Bread & Roses and having a conversation with folks,” Henderson says. “We tell about the work, but also how we do the work, and who we are as people and our relationships with one another.”

Amistad Law Project’s lawyers visit clients and allies in prison to build relationships and develop movement strategy. “We have a bunch of cases that are aimed at getting people serving death by incarceration sentences home,” says Henderson. “We also have cases around health care that folks aren’t receiving in prison that they should be.” The organization is suing on behalf of a client who did not receive treatment and died from complications of hepatitis C.

“Prison abolition is not this thing we have as a sound bite,” Henderson notes. “It’s something we hold as a really deep value and belief, and it informs the work that we’re doing. We absolutely have to improve conditions for people who are incarcerated now, but it’s also possible to have this world where we don’t put people in cages at all.”