In mid-March Social Justice Fund NW launched our COVID-19 Crisis Fund to move resources to grantees in our region, helping to offset the impacts of the pandemic on groups that work in the margins to build power. This fund, created through combining SJF general operating funds, foundation grants, and individual gifts, has so far moved over $260,000 of the $500,000 raised to nearly 90 groups and organizations throughout our region.
We are all affected by this crisis. In every corner of our community, our grantees are working to provide mutual aid, connection and support both within and outside of their organizations. Here are some example:
“We have 4 vehicles and a large land base.” As they build their mutual aid infrastructure within the Cheyenne Indian Reservation, Voices of the Sacred is creating a zine to distribute with food boxes to provide necessary information and political education.
“Shelter in place” orders create a virtual digital ‘redlining’ for those who have limited resources and access to technology. Creative Justice will create opportunities for youth in accessing broadband, art supplies, and tech support so Creative Justice can continue programming and art as an outlet while supporting youth to stay home. “Having access to the outside world when our youth are stuck at home will be a lifeline for our youth.”
In rural Oregon, the farmworkers Union PCUN will use the funds to get a Google phone number and purchase a Zoom account so their staff can work remotely and continue working with families.
Many of the groups used the resources to provide basic needs within and outside their organizations, which are run largely by volunteers or minimal staff. Emergency food banks, housing, resourcing basic needs, crisis advocacy and mental health resources were among top priorities for many groups.
Throughout it all, working to build power and disrupt oppression does not stop because of this current crisis. If anything, injustice is magnified in these times. Organizations like The Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO) work with local API-owned businesses and communities who have faced increased racism, violence and economic hardship by fighting against the racist rhetoric around COVID-19.
Around the world, folks are grappling with this pandemic and sharing collective grief and resilience as this crisis moves across the globe. Social Justice Fund NW provides essential resources to organizations in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming to strengthen grassroots efforts in the broad-based movement for progressive, systemic social change.
As this crisis continues to impact our region, we will provide updates on the Crisis Fund and the work of SJF grantees.
Finally, during the COVID-19 crisis, we have continued with two Giving Projects that started last fall: Economic Justice Projects in Portland and Seattle. Together, the groups have a goal of granting $480,000 and are fundraising for two-year, general operating grants for economic justice organizing across the region. As our economy forces many people to make impossible choices between health and providing for basic needs, the applicants to this grant cycle are both responding to the current crisis and continuing to build toward a new economy. You can see a list of finalists here, and donate to this grant cycle here.