Tag Archives: Gender Justice Organizing Fund

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.”  

Grantee Profile: We.REIGN

A photo of We.REIGN ambassador Amaiyah Monet speaking at a local back to school event held in August.
We.REIGN ambassador Amaiyah Monet opens up about how community violence has impacted her life at a local back-to-school event held in August. 

“We’re building a coalition of girls who can say, ‘I know what the problems are in my community or school, and I can come up with solutions.’”

Tawanna Jones, executive director of We.REIGN

“Black girl voices and Black women voices are often excluded from political agendas, decision-making tables, policy making in schools,” says Tawanna Jones, executive director of We.REIGN,Gender Justice Organizing Fund and Solidarity Fund for COVID-19 Organizing grantee. “We introduce Black girls to the idea of politics and policy and how to advocate for yourself. We’re building a coalition of girls who can say, ‘I know what the problems are in my community or school, and I can come up with solutions.’” 

Jones founded We.REIGN (Rooting, Empowering, Inspiring a Girls Nation) in 2016 to create a safe, nurturing space where Black girls can “unapologetically become,” she says. “We use political and civic education to help Black girls figure out who they are and where they want to fit into the world. We create a space where Black girls can figure out that identity development piece in a supportive network of other Black girls, older Black women, and high school girls.” We.REIGN’s signature We Speak workshops help girls develop skills to be change agents in their own lives and in their communities.  

This year, through a Gender Justice Organizing Fund grant, We.REIGN offered a six-month Gender Justice Internship for 12 high school girls. The internship kicked off with workshops about how gender injustice and systemic racism play out in school, work, families, and communities. Working in community pods, girls chose three gender justice issues—education funding, black maternal and infant mortality, and sexual violence. They interviewed peers and wrote policy papers outlining their demands to address the issues and shared their findings in Zoom town halls.  

“The grant allowed us to pay girls a stipend, so they didn’t have to choose between working a low-wage job or participating in the program,” Jones says. 

For We.REIGN, advocacy, activism, and organizing are key to girls’ futures. Jones says: “Understanding issues and being able to organize around them is critical and central to the life of Black Americans.”