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Colorful illustration of a rural Idaho landscape. Text reads Congratulations to the awardees. Announcing the awardees of the 2022 Rural Community Organizing Grant.

We are thrilled to announce the awardees of the 2022 Rural Community Organizing Grant!

These ten grassroots organizations represent powerful movements alive throughout Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, from robust mutual aid networks, Indigenous language and cultural preservation projects, and LGBTQIA+ advocacy to community-led organizing for affordable housing, food, and immigration justice, grassroots mobilization against the overdose epidemic, and education and organizing for Black liberation and racial justice. These ten awardees will each receive a $15,000, one-year grant.

In the words of Tai Simpson, the Idaho-based organizer and advocate who contracted with us to lead this grant cycle, “We’re excited to report the Rural Community Organizing grant is coming to a close. We brought together an array of community organizers from Idaho and Washington to review applications. They represent Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities. They identify as queer and Trans. They are parents, educators, storytellers, and healers. We wanted our grant committee to represent the communities we aspire to serve.

To that end were received 20 dynamic applications and enthusiastically funded ten. Recipients of the Rural Community Organizing Grant will continue to energize their work as artists, decolonizers, revolutionaries, and educators. Our communities across the SJF service area are made stronger by their contributions. We celebrate their tireless efforts to nurture communities in which we’re all thriving and held whole. 

Launched in May, the 2022 Rural Community Organizing Grant is one part of SJF’s effort to more effectively serve grassroots organizers in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming — especially rural areas. Rural organizers have cultivated strong community networks in the face of huge hurdles: far-right state governments, white supremacist strongholds, technology gaps, food deserts, massive wealth disparities, and rising gentrification. Yet the vast majority of philanthropic funding ends up in urban areas — including our own. For this grant cycle, we assembled a committee of organizers with deep roots in the region to review applications and determine the awardees, drawing on their expertise to resource some of the most critical social justice movements in the region. We gave priority to organizations based in rural, small town, and reservation communities as well as formations led by organizers who are Black, Indigenous, and/or people of color.

We were struck by the expansive vision and deep humanity of the applications to this cycle. Applicants emphasized interconnected care and the need to focus on good relationships and organizer wellness in the course of their work. Several Native applicants described their intergenerational approach to raising up learners and teachers within their communities, preserving and creating history in the process. All of the awardees hold strong commitments to intersectional movement work, Black liberation, and Indigenous sovereignty. It is an honor for Social Justice Fund to resource these organizations!

Without further ado, here are the ten awardees:

Black Liberation Collective, ID | Meridian, ID

Led by an all-Black team of trans folks who grew up in rural areas, Black Liberation Collective, ID (BLC) strives to radically restore minoritized people across their rural state through spaces of resistance and vanguard practices of healing-centered liberation, driven by, for, and with beloved community. Much of BLC’s current work includes managing a robust mutual aid network for minoritized people across Idaho.

Crow Language Consortium | Billings, MT

The Crow Language Consortium (CLC) brings Crow people together around language, an irreplaceable facet of their culture and heritage. CLC is a collective of Crow schools, colleges, and educators working to preserve the Crow language to ensure they can pass it on to future generations. They develop language materials such as textbooks, dictionaries, flashcards, posters, and more, provide access to apps and multimedia, and organize intensive teacher training and workshops.

Eastern Shoshone Cultural Center | Fort Washakie, WY

The Eastern Shoshone Cultural Center (ESCC) aims to preserve and reawaken Eastern Shoshone language, culture, and history. Established in 1988, the Cultural Center has provided classes on the Eastern Shoshone language, beading, cradleboard making, and other arts and crafts to community members for over three decades. They are committed to all efforts to revitalize the Eastern Shoshone language, which expresses their unique worldview and traditional ways of life, connecting them to their rich history and culture, and strengthening and empowering their community.

Indigenous Idaho Alliance | Boise, ID

Indigenous Idaho Alliance (IIA) is part of the resistance against oppressive political and social systems that adversely affect the Indigenous nations in Idaho and neighboring states; they are primarily engaged in advocacy around the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women movement, providing food and resources to community members, and voter education. IIA holds that food is always the base component of any organizing effort and strives to provide food for organizers, volunteers and others in need, responding to the state of Food Apartheid that affects most reservations that has been heightened by the pandemic.

North Idaho Pride Alliance | Coeur d’Alene, ID

North Idaho Pride Alliance (NIPA) is an organization of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, and Allied (LGBTQIA+) people and community groups working together to create a unified North Idaho. They accomplish this through building a network of intentional relationships in their community, educating the community about LGBTQIA+ issues and the lived experience of LGBTQIA+ people and their allies, and advocacy to create a cross-movement culture for advancing LGBTQIA+ equality.

Open Aid Alliance | Missoula, MT

Open Aid Alliance (OAA) is part of the harm reduction movement, working with the unique potential of each individual as they overcome stigma to seek greater health; they primarily serve people who have been socially and politically excluded from comprehensive healthcare. OAA will use this grant to organize people who use drugs to inform and create meaningful responses to the overdose epidemic in Montana, shaping local and state efforts for overdose education, prevention, and response.

Riverton Peace Mission | Riverton, WY

Riverton Peace Mission (RPM) understands their work as towards community harmony: through community organizing, talking circles, education, alliances, advocacy, data collection, and ceremony, they engage in truth-telling and reconciliation for community safety and healing among all the diverse peoples of the Wind River Indian Reservation and its bordertowns. RPM honors the tribal sovereignty of the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes, promotes transparency and accountability of governing bodies, programs, and agencies, increases grassroots power and involvement in decision-making at all levels of governments, and centers the most vulnerable.

ShelterJH | Jackson, WY

ShelterJH builds grassroots and political power so that all community members can live locally, creating a more resilient and just future for Jackson Hole. They host educational election season events and endorse housing champion candidates, partner with numerous organizations to further local and state political objectives, and empower supporters to lobby representatives regarding local development projects. They are currently focusing on deepening their outreach with immigrant communities by building up Latinx organizers from their current base.

The Montana Racial Equity Project | Bozeman, MT

The Montana Racial Equity Project (MTREP) advocates equity and justice for historically marginalized, disenfranchised, and oppressed peoples in Montana. MTREP directs resources, energy, and time toward addressing racial inequity and injustice in Montana through community organizing, education, and base building. Their purpose is to educate and activate Montanans for that which they advocate. In working towards this, they lift the voices and elevate the agency of BIPOC through an intersectional lens and develop antiracist leaders and organizers.

Voices Jackson Hole | Jackson, WY

Voices JH is a grassroots organization that was founded during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure immigrant families had the information and resources to persevere through the economic and health fallout of the pandemic. Due to the success of their relationship-based model, Voices JH has expanded into a program that strengthens community engagement within the immigrant communities of the Tetons. Their model is made possible through the empowerment and leadership development of local leaders who develop new skills, confidence and financial security through their programs. Voices JH’s vision is to create a more engaged and inclusive Teton region, and they believe we will only arrive there by empowering the most marginalized community members with the resources and skills they need to thrive.