From the very beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve heard from grantees and community partners that they were going to need a lot of support–and that need has only continued to grow over the past few months.
We launched the Crisis Community Care Fund as part of our efforts to support community groups and organizations responding to this crisis, and whose work is being impacted by the factors surrounding the spread.
Not only does this fund support organizations on the frontlines of this epidemic, it also provides resources to Black-led and centered organizing work around racial justice efforts in the Northwest, as these efforts are addressing the systemic racism that resulted in the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has on Black people and communities.
So far, we have awarded more than $430,000 to 80 organizations and groups supporting our communities. We have intentionally created a low barrier process and awarded grants with no strings attached so groups and organizations can focus on the work to make sure communities across the region are safe and cared for.
Here is a snapshot of just a few of the recipients, and a little about how they’ve worked to adapt their work over the past few months. Thank you to all of the amazing groups and organizations working to show up for our communities at this moment!
(To read more about all the Crisis Community Care Fund grantees, check out the full docket!)
Covenant House Alaska – Youth Task Force (Anchorage, AK)
Covenant House is the largest provider serving young people experiencing homelessness in the state of Alaska, including youth from more remote and rural communities beyond the city of Anchorage. Their Youth Task Force has received Pride Foundation funding in order to continue their involvement with the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program.
With the impacts of COVID-19, Covenant House has seen a drastic decrease of private funding and has had to reallocate resources for more janitorial services, hygiene products, and further efforts to keep youth safe and in homes both on and off campus.
As they write on their webpage, “keeping 140 vulnerable adolescents hunkered down with 6 feet between them at all times is not an easy task,” however, “staff continue to show up to keep youth safe, healthy, and entertained.” Covenant House Alaska has found creative ways to continue their work and involve community members amidst the Covid crisis. Here are some of the creative ways they have adapted:
- Engaging youth with fresh activities such as group workout routines, tie dying t-shirts, playing games, and making TikTok videos
- Providing meals to youth who do not live on site by implementing a food service grab-and-go pick-up system
- Coordinating a homework delivery system for youth who are in school
- Collaborating with Orthopedic Physicians Alaska, who visited the youth engagement center to screen all first responder staff
- Reorganized youth’s shared spaces to create room for social distancing, adding hand sanitizer stations and setting up two locations for youth who display symptoms, are awaiting test results, or have tested positive for COVID
- Distributed masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to youth, who would have no other way to access them
- Case managers purchased and dropped off groceries for youth, and taught youth to use the city’s mobile food bank system from home
- Staff have set up Zoom meetings in the building’s office space for youth to continue to meet with counselors regularly
- Creation of an Amazon “hunker down” wishlist, using social media to encourage people to purchase from it, in addition to requesting donations of masks, thermometers, and other needed supplies
API Chaya (Seattle, WA)
API Chaya empowers survivors of gender-based violence and human trafficking to gain safety, connection, and wellness. By educating and mobilizing South Asian, Asian, Pacific Islander, and all immigrant communities to end exploitation, they work to create a world where all people can heal and thrive. In 2020, their Queer Network Program has deepened engagement across communities, building healing spaces so that QTBIPOC can break isolation and build skills, with intentional outreach and relationship building with their most underrepresented ethnic communities and QTBIPOC survivors with disabilities.
API Chaya has been listening to QTBIPOC communities express an acute need for collective healing spaces, collaborative skill and resource building, and consistent accessibility. This has been additionally critical as API Chaya and the broader Seattle/Western Washington respond to community needs amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. API Chaya has seen a rise in anti-Asian violence, the need to find strategic and new ways to support community members who have to shelter in place in an environment that is not safe.
Even amidst the Covid crisis, API Chaya maintains their commitment to responding to the needs of local communities, and being a resource for survivors seeking safety. Here are some of the ways they have responded to meet emerging community needs:
- Partnering with local mutual aid organizations to support survivors experiencing financial instability and facing increasing safety concerns. In partnership with King County and the COVID-19 Seattle Mutual Aid Network, API Chaya is working to move 300 meals per week to individuals and families in need
- Continuing to offer safety planning and support via their helpline
- Hosting virtual events including a gala, a virtual youth hangout centering young people of color ages 13-25; in collaboration with QTL and Parisol & friends, a Reclaiming Our Futures mini series webinar for BIPOC; a community education series on sexual assault; in partnership with Pacific Islander Health Board and the PI Covid-19 Taskforce of WA, a dialogue and workshop on healing from violence in Pasifika communities; a webinar series on transformative justice skillshares; a webinar on disability justice and abolition; a webinar on organizing in faith based communities; and a webinar on domestic violence and supporting survivors
- Advocating for the defunding of Seattle Police, and redirecting resources to serve survivors of gender-based violence
- Responding to grief as coronavirus related deaths increase, by teaming up with The Journey Program to provide grief support and referrals
- Creation of the Deaf Survivors of Color Circle: a support circle for Deaf, hard of hearing and CODA survivors of violence who identify as people of color, with all meetings hosted online in American Sign Language
Inclusive Idaho (Boise, Idaho)
Formed in 2020, Inclusive Idaho started as a vigil for George Floyd and other African Americans slain by police. Organizers saw a need to do more work in Idaho around racial justice and formed Inclusive Idaho, a POC-led group whose mission is promoting inclusivity as the solution to the societal barriers of belonging and advancement for minority groups, women, disabled individuals, refugees, and those with marginalized gender and sexual orientations. Their work includes advocacy, education, policy reform, legislation, and community events.
Here are some examples of their recent work:
- Met with the Idaho Education Association (IEA), leaders in the Boise School District, and administrators in the Nampa School District, and spoken to 85+ school counselors on anti-racism and identity
- Led a virtual panel discussion on diversity and inclusion in the classroom
- Hosted the Joy Is A Revolution parade: a community celebration for building relationships, dancing, and overcoming injustice with joy
- Hosted a webinar on exploring outdoor identity, and the first Inclusive Outdoors event, complete with an educational session and rock climbing
- Creatively worked to meet fundraising goals by selling merch
- Mobilized community members to speak at an Idaho town hall meeting
- Rolled out a cool new logo and website
Montana Racial Equity Project (Bozeman, MT)
The Montana Racial Equity Project’s (MTREP) work is grounded in the belief that every person deserves visibility, representation, safety, and affirmation. They believe in the inherent value of every person, and recognize the disproportionate impact of violence, poverty, homelessness, mental health issues, bullying, and suicidality on queer and trans people of color (QTPOC), and particularly youth. Through public education, direct advocacy, and community organizing, MTREP works to break down systemic barriers, dismantle racism, and uplift marginalized people across Montana. They host workshops and panel discussions that address critical issues such as criminal justice reform, and issues facing transgender, non-binary, and Two Spirit communities, people of color with disabilities, religious minorities, and others.
As the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has gained momentum across the nation, MTREP has been busy organizing protests, supporting people of color, strategizing on next steps, and working across the state to support different communities with their response. These funds will help them to continue this critical work in supporting Black lives and Black communities in Montana.
Amidst this pandemic, Montana Racial Equity Project has only strengthened their reputation for groundbreaking work and innovative strategies. Here are some of the ways they have transformed their work:
- Hosting a myriad of virtual events, including a virtual happy hour to “learn about the challenges and successes of being anti-racist activists”; a zoom workshop on learning how to cook authentic Nigerian cuisine; a “Morning Mocha” Q&A with the executive director; and a virtual story time, where staff read excerpts from their favorite books about anti-racism, diversity, equity, and justice
- Creation of a crisis request relief fund, which prioritizes BIPOC, LGBTQ+ people, people with disabilities, and people who are undocumented
- Advertising available funds for Black students pursuing higher education at a Montana institution who are in need of emergency income assistance or food assistance
- Hosting a #SpringIntoAntiRacism challenge via Instagram, “all about spreading knowledge and awareness about how we engage in anti-racism work” and “honor those who pushed us into action”
- Distributed over $93,000 through their COVID-19 Crisis Relief Fund (as of end of August 2020)
- Amidst the pain and grief of BIPOC dying of COVID and the government indifference, and the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Sean Reed, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and others, MTREP held virtual space for BIPOC Montanans to collectively grieve, vent, process, and heal
Beyond These Walls (Portland, OR)
Beyond These Walls (BTW) works to support LGBTQ+ prisoners throughout the Pacific Northwest and to change the systems leading to their incarceration and negative treatment while incarcerated. BTW does this through direct services for prisoners, policy change, and public engagement and education. Additionally, BTW is working towards building the first statewide coalition for LGBTQ+ prisoners. With Pride Foundation support BTW has been successfully running Oregon’s first-ever trans leadership group behind bars. In light of the recent Stay Home, Save Lives Executive Order in Oregon, the Department of Corrections has banned all non-essential personnel, and is not allowing BTW to support prisoners.
As many organizations have been transitioning to video and virtual meetings, the work of BTW is unable to be translated to that format. As a result, Beyond These Walls is looking to implement a largescale mail campaign to support trans prisoners, as well as staffing a phone hotline so that trans prisoners can receive support on an ongoing basis amidst the COVID-19 crisis.
Beyond These Walls continues to demonstrate leadership in their ability to adapt to these uncertain times. Although they are no longer permitted to enter prisons due to Covid concerns, they maintain determined to honor their commitment to our incarcerated community leaders. Here are some of the ways they have evolved their work:
- Creation of a Facebook group where formerly incarcerated people can find community
- Creation of a Prisoner Covid Crisis Line. With the support of over 25 volunteers, the crisis line collects covid info, offers referrals, and provides support for prisoners in Oregon and Washington
- Development of a “snail mail” version of the leadership groups inside of Oregon prisons, in order to continue to work directly with LGBTQ incarcerated people
- Sharing articles on social media about the impacts of covid on incarcerated community members
- Continued encouragement for the public to sign up as a pen-pal to LGBTQ prisoners, emphasizing that, “prisons all over the country have shut their doors to visitors and volunteers due to the Coronavirus pandemic,” meaning that “LGBTQ prisoners are left without support and are more isolated than ever”
- Facilitating followers’ ability to send a note of encouragement to LGBTQ people in prison, who may not be able to commit to being a pen-pal
WA Black Trans Task Force (A project of Lavender Rights Project) (Seattle, Washington)
WA Black Trans Task Force (WA BTTF) is a group of concerned Black Trans Femmes, working to eliminate the genocide of Black Trans people. In response to the impacts of COVID-19, WA Black Trans Task Force is providing support services including: gift cards to impacted QTBIPOC, legal support workshops on how to apply for federal and state benefits, navigating unemployment and estate planning & virtual community healing spaces.
More recently, WA BTTF has transformed to be a leadership hub for QTBIPOC organizers in the greater Puget Sound area. They have become a pillar of support for grassroots efforts in demanding accountability from our local and state government leadership on anti-Blackness, racism and police brutality. WA BTTF will be working with the Black QT Youth Project, a new grassroots group of Black queer and trans youth that are organizing across the city in response to anti-Black racism in this country and the need to prioritize community-driven solutions and how BIPOC queer and trans youth continue to be left out of the conversation. The goal is to ensure that all queer and trans Black youth have access to mentorship, organizing tools, and resources to engage and support other youth.
CCC funding will be used to support queer and trans Black youth in developing their leadership skills with support from Black elders and yelders to build a sustainable movement and support the next generation of organizers. In addition to supporting the Black QT Youth Project, WA BTTF will use part of this funding to strengthen capacity building and collaboration efforts with Updated August 11, 2020 the Trans Women of Color Solidarity Network (TWOCSN), a group that is working to uphold the self determination of BIPOC trans women & trans femmes for collective care. The two organizations recently collaborated on an open letter and petition regarding the murder of Black trans people to demand acknowledgment, the dismantling of police, a redirection of funds, and freedom for Black trans prisoners and protesters.
After conversations with several BIPOC led grassroots groups across the Puget Sound region, a collective decision was made to support the leadership of Black trans women and femmes at WA BTTF. This was done by providing WA BTTF with a larger grant to support the efforts listed above, and to work to dismantle the disproportionate impacts we see at the intersection of racism, police brutality, and the violence that Black trans women experience daily.
To read more about all the Crisis Community Care Fund grantees, check out the full docket!