Bread and Roses launches COVID-19 Solidarity Fund to support grassroots organizations

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Photo courtesy Bread and Roses

On April 8, fundraising collective Bread and Roses launched The Solidarity Fund for COVID-19 Organizing. This emergency fund aims to support grassroots Philadelphia-based groups as they strive to meet the community’s needs during this pandemic. Fortunately, many LGBTQ grassroots organizations in Philadelphia may meet the requirements to qualify for the Solidarity Fund. 

Bread and Roses is a collective of organizers, activists and donors that targets smaller groups doing work within the community in pursuit of “racial, social, and economic justice.” To date, Executive Director Casey Cook said they have seen a surprising number of applications which may speak to the desperate need for funding.  “In the first five days, we received 29 applications,” said Cook, “which is a pretty rapid response for a first-time fund. We expect to continue to get new applications as word spreads.”

Cook points out that, while the COVID-19 crisis is wholly unprecedented, its effect on society shares a lot of characteristics with past humanitarian disasters. “Times of crisis typically illuminate and exacerbate the existing inequalities of our society,” said Cook, “That’s what we saw happen with Hurricane Katrina, with the 2008 financial crisis, and with other disasters throughout history. In response to this pandemic, existing and newly formed community groups are rapidly launching community organizing campaigns for justice.” 

To uphold its commitment to equality and justice, Cook explained that Bread and Roses is “giving the community power over grant-making decisions, so all grants will be chosen by a small cross-race, cross-class committee.” When asked why grassroots organizing is so important to the health of the community, Cook replied that “it is the only sustainable way to overcome inequality and systems of oppression.”

Part of Bread and Roses’ strategy to end inequality is to recognize and support more marginalized community organizations, including those run by and for the benefit of LGBTQ Philadelphians. “This fund is open to any of our past grantees who need emergency funding to weather the storm,” said Cook, “and that includes a lot of LGBTQ organizations who do grassroots organizing.” Past LGBTQ organization grantees include ACT UP Philadelphia, Trans Equity Project, GALAEI, Sister LOVE, The Sappho and LaRoyce Foundation, and many others. Cook also said that Bread and Roses hopes “to support any direct organizing of the LGBTQ community that may be ramping up around this crisis. We know that this pandemic is especially deadly for immunocompromised people, including people who are HIV positive. That may leave many people in the LGBTQ community vulnerable and we have to be sure they are getting access to the resources they need to stay healthy.” 

While it normally specializes in locating funds for local humanitarian efforts, Bread and Roses determined that, due to the nature of the crisis, the Solidarity Fund would need to be streamlined so money would pass from donors to qualified applicants in an efficient and timely manner. 

Due to this, the Solidarity Fund offers an application with only “four questions on the basics of what groups are doing and what they need.” Cook explained that “groups can apply for grants of up to $10,000, which will be awarded on a rolling basis as quickly as possible.” Cook is confident that agreements with groups will be made within two weeks after receiving their applications. 

Currently, Bread and Roses has about $350,000 in donor commitments but must meet its goal of $500,000 to satisfy the needs of those approved grants. “We will be dispersing funds on a rolling basis for as long as there are funds available and the need remains,” said Cook, “We expect our first grants to be out this month.” 

To support or apply for the Bread and Roses Solidarity Fund for COVID-19 Organizing, visit https://breadrosesfund.org/solidarityfund/

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