In 2019, twenty-three committed volunteers joined the 2019-2020 Economic Justice Giving Project cohorts in Portland and Seattle, beginning a journey of political education, donor organizing, and grantmaking. Learning at the intersections of race, class, and gender, the two cohorts raised $380,177 to fund vital organizing for economic justice in our region and made two-year grants of $30,000 each to fifteen grassroots organizations in Montana, Oregon, and Washington. Here’s what two participants had to say about their experiences:
In their words…
Emma Martinez, Portland cohort
“I’ve always lacked confidence in my ability to fundraise, and really wanted to join a group of folks determined to better our skills in raising resources and moving them to meaningful movements. The Giving Project and SJF gave me new language to understand my experiences, my privileges, and my role in moving resources to where they need to be.
“[One grantee I’d like to highlight is] Queer the Land! They are so powerful to me because of their leadership of Black, Brown, and Indigenous queer & trans folks explicitly creating sustainability practices in their communities keeping generational healing in mind. They are such a beautiful example of communities creating their own solutions because we know we can’t wait for others to do it for us.”
Anna Rebecca Lopez, Seattle cohort
“As an Evaluator in the nonprofit sector I’m familiar with donor-centric approaches to fundraising and wanted to explore more community-centric ones. Sharing the space [with my cohort] was transformative. We were a cross-race, cross-generation, cross-class group committed to contributing to a regenerative economy in the ways we were able. We were honest in our stories and in our relationship with wealth. The space we created was a stable foundation when COVID-19 hit. Despite the pandemic, we were able to exceed our fundraising goals! This was an example for me of what community movement can look like when we leverage our networks and commit to systemic change.
“My parents were immigrants to the United States. I grew up in a predominantly immigrant community where resources and opportunities were limited. I was excited to learn about the work of Familias Unidas’ Economy and Ecology Project. They’re doing amazing work in Skagit County and also in Yakima Valley to organize workers who are disproportionately being impacted by the pandemic. They are fighting for better working environments for people who are essential in our food economy, and who are often marginalized. The farmworkers and immigrants could easily be my family and my neighbors. While I live far from the community I was raised in, I am now in a position to support this amazing group.”
This list of fifteen amazing organizations received 2-year Economic Justice grants of $30,000 each.
All in for Washington │ Seattle, WA
All In For Washington is a people of color-led and centered organization fighting for economic justice for communities of color, beginning with transforming Washington’s regressive tax code. This grant will help us hire a part-time student organizer at Seattle Central College to develop leadership and movement base with youth.
Community to Community │ Bellingham, WA
Community to Community Development (C2C) is a place-based, women-led grassroots organization working for a just society and healthy communities. We plan to establish an in-house capital development trust fund for land acquisition and cooperative asset building; work with constituents to design and fund their environmental clean-up and green business initiatives in order to realize the “Green New Deal”; organize and amplify the voices of our constituents through the 2020 census and elections.
Familias Unidas Economy and Ecology Project │ Burlington, WA
The Economy and Ecology Project aims to educate and mobilize our community living on the margins. As workers we want to see a better world and have dignified work that also does not exploit Mother Earth. Our grant request is to support emerging worker movement leaders who want to engage with the community through house visits and community forums to discuss the political moment and the challenges and opportunities we see arising.
*Hilltop Urban Gardens │ Tacoma, WA
HUG’s mission is to develop systems for food sovereignty and create racial and economic justice. We’re doing this by building a neighborhood-based network of urban farms and gardens. HUG seeks funding to continue providing neighborhood grown produce for at least 25 households each week, grow our Black and Indigenous young folks organizing project, expand our Urban Farm Network programs, and continue building a community land trust.
Indian People’s Action │ Butte, MT
The mission of Indian People’s Action is to work in Montana’s border towns and reservations to empower Montana’s Indian families to address the economic, racial and environmental inequities that shape their lives. Butte Urban Native Initiative is a pilot project for directly addressing economic and racial inequality in an urban area. This grant will fund a part-time position that will coordinate service provision and work with Native families to address economic injustice, including quality childcare and afterschool programs, education such as life skills and job preparation, and addressing structural issues like discriminatory school discipline.
*Liberation Medicine School │ Seattle, WA
Liberation Medicine School (LMS) is an Afro-indigenous and Afro-LGBTQ rooted initiative dedicated to the teaching, learning, and practice of a decolonized medicine that is grounded in the struggle for Black liberation. Through this grant, we hope to continue building a strong foundational collective of Black healers who are invested in a collaborative and economically-just process of manifesting an autonomous medical structure where members of the Black community can teach, learn, practice, receive, and share healing.
Mujeres Luchadoras Progresistas │ Woodburn, OR
We are a group of farmworker women who create economic development and promote leadership among women in our community. We strive to improve our living and working conditions. We recognize that women overcome exploitation and injustice when we organize and reclaim our rights. We plan to use the funds from this grant to continue expansion of our program (now in Salem, OR), outreaching to our communities in need of leadership & social economic development among Latina immigrant and farmworker women.
OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon │ Portland, OR
OPAL organizes low income people and people of color to achieve a just transportation system, inclusive housing, investment without displacement, public health equity, and empowered, engaged communities who enjoy equal access to opportunity. This grant request will support OPAL’s Up With Riders Campaign. Funds will support OPAL’s Bus Riders Unite Organizer and expand capacity for OPAL’s Organizing Fellows to support the campaign through community outreach, strategic planning, and grassroots organizing.
Queer the Land │ Seattle, WA
Queer the Land is a collaborative project grounded in the self-determination of queer trans & 2spirit Black/indigenous/people of color (QT2BIPOC) and the vision of collectively owning our land and labor. The idea for this project comes from our collective experience: the lived experience of the housing crisis and economic displacement in Seattle. We want to build the solution ourselves as the communities most impacted by these issues. We envision Queer The Land as a rare community space where the needs of QT2BIPOC are centered, and our dreams are nurtured.
*Tacoma Urban League │Tacoma, WA
Our mission is to assist African Americans and other underserved urban residents in the achievement of social equality and economic independence. In 2019, we launched the Black Empowerment Center (BEC) with the goal is to increase financial capability by increasing African American’s knowledge, skills, and access to manage financial resources effectively. Our-long term impact is to increase the net worth of African Americans in Tacoma.
Tenants Union of Washington State │ Seattle, WA
The mission of the Tenants Union is to create housing justice through empowerment-based education, outreach, leadership development, organizing, and advocacy. Funds from this grant will address economic disparities between landlords and tenants in Washington by building tenant leadership from low income communities of color to win the essential tenant protections of Just Cause and Rent Control.
*The Ebony Collective CDC │ Portland, OR
The Ebony Collective CDC is an African American-led resource, social justice and educational organization, rooted in culturally-specific and community-led practices and services, that lifts up youth, individuals and families to reach their full potential in Oregon. The Ebony Collective CDC strives to change the root causes of injustice by having families and youth look at their money in a realistic way, set tangible goals and create a work plan for themselves to be self-sufficient. In addition, families and youth will have the knowledge and resources necessary to create, develop, and expand their communities economically.
*The Montana Racial Equity Project │ Bozeman, MT
The Montana Racial Equity Project advocates for equity and justice for historically marginalized, disenfranchised, and oppressed peoples in Montana. This grant will help grow and improve our organization’s capacity and impact. We intend to use the funds to hire additional staff to grow our programs, educate more people how to live an anti-racist life, and become antiracist leaders.
Voz Workers’ Rights Education Project │ Portland, OR
Voz Workers’ Rights Education Project (Voz) is a worker-led organization that empowers diverse day laborers and immigrants to improve their working condition and protect civil rights through leadership development, organizing, education and economic opportunity. This grant would help improve the working conditions of the day laborer economy by enforcing fair labor standards, creating accessible workforce development opportunities, and organizing around labor rights issues such as wage theft.
Western Native Voice │ Billings, MT
Western Native Voice’s mission is to inspire Native leadership so our communities flourish. This grant will support the Northern Cheyenne Nation’s “Netamahemanotseohemane” Let’s All Work Together, a Day Labor program that was launched in June of 2018. WNV will hire a part-time staff person to run the Day Labor program.
* Black-led organizations (more than 50% of the leadership body identify as Black)