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On October 5th, the Social Justice Fund community celebrated together during our annual dinner “The Change We’re Making.” We had a joyous time making new friends and reconnecting with each other, celebrating the work of our grantees, the success of our Giving Projects, and the social change and movement building we’re helping to create throughout the Northwest region, and beyond.

After a Grantee Fair that highlighted some of the organizations SJF funded in the last year, the evening program began with the inspiring poetry of Angelina Riley, a junior at Rainier Beach High School and a member of grantee WA-BLOC.

Karen Toering, SJF interim program director and the night’s MC, lifted up SJF’s grantmaking model and touted the fact that so far in 2019 four SJF Projects had raised and granted over $1.5 million dollars, resources that have gone to organizations led by people who are most directly affected by inequity and systems of oppression affecting our region.

SJF Executive Director Mijo Lee then introduced two of the evening’s inspiring speakers — Samantha Taylor from grantee Portland African American Leadership Forum (PAALF), followed by Edgar Villanueva, author of Decolonizing Wealth, who challenged traditional philanthropy and offered a vision of healing and hope.

Mijo also presented a special award to the Displaced Tenants Fund for Housing Justice & Affordability (DTAT), acknowledging the way SJF and DTAT have worked together to develop and facilitate a multi-year process of democratic grantmaking for housing solutions in our region. We were proud to recognize their fierceness and work toward the creation of truly affordable housing.

A highlight of the evening was the moving story by Carolanne Sanders, a member of SJF’s Black-led Organizing Giving Project, who reminded us that we are living in a time in which community care is in desperately high need and ever-shortening supply. “Just surviving feels like a full time gig. Marginalized communities are under threat from forces that feel so so big, and as author activist Arundahti Roy reminds us, the silencing of our voices is strategic and deliberate.”

She called on everyone in attendance to join her in supporting SJF in a meaningful way… and our community was up for the challenge, raising nearly $90,000 on the pitch alone!

Following the program, we danced late into the night, inspired by the passion and commitment of our members, Giving Project alumni and grantees. In that spirit, we thank you all for your continued support and trust.

In her pitch Carolanne said, “Through Social Justice Fund I am reminded that when we are rooted in right relationship, and we turn toward the future and we move together, our seeds of self care blossom into community care.” With your support SJF will continue to support this essential work.