The JustPax Fund is pleased to announce the organizations and initiatives that received funding from our 2020 application round, who collectively received a total of $185,000 in funding for economic, environmental, and gender justice work.
Awamaki – $20,000
Awamaki works with 11 women’s artisan cooperatives in the Peruvian Andes. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Peru had one of the longest national lockdowns in the world. Borders closed and tourism, the economic engine of the Cusco region, shuttered. Most of the artisans’ businesses depended on tourism, and most of their male family members worked in tourism as porters, so their household income dropped to nearly zero. Women who were building successful businesses faced food insecurity for their families.
Food insecurity threatens the fabric of the Quechua villages where our artisans live, and it threatens the heritage that those villages carry forward. Residents leaving their villages for work was a threat to the Quechua way of life, language, and artistic traditions long before COVID. Tourism and artisanal work were the only opportunities to participate in the modern economy from the village. Awamaki’s emergency food relief program addresses this food insecurity and its threat to indigenous communities by delivering baskets of food to artisan partners in their communities. The baskets include staples like eggs, bread, fruit and vegetables, and have been essential to the artisans’ food security during this uncertain time.
Project GROWS — $20,000
The Service Fellows Program of Project GROWS is an 18-week training and employment program for young adults to serve as leaders in local food systems, engaged in farming and farmers markets serving low income communities. The goal of this project is to transform structures of oppression within and through the food system, through the following strategies:
(1) Respond to racial and structural injustices in food access. Address health disparities that arise when access to healthy food is unjustly determined by race, class, and privilege.
(2) Address racial and gender injustices around who is recognized as a farmer, who has knowledge and access to land, and who is justly compensated for food and sustainability efforts.
(3) Address environmental harms through regenerative agriculture and sustainable growing practices on Project GROWS’ 10 acre educational farm, including soil building practices, growing pollinator habitats, building riparian zones, and installing solar panels.
Uganda Water Project — $20,000
Between 14% and 26% of deep wells in sub-Saharan Africa sit in disrepair on any given day. The Ugandan Water Project is launching AquaTrust (AQT), which aims at a transformational solution for permanent water security. AQT will work as a utility service for rural water users. Enrolled communities will pay a small subscription fee (<1% of income); in return, local mechanics trained and certified by AQT will be paid a steady wage to provide comprehensive maintenance and repairs. To reverse a broken incentives system and encourage excellence, mechanics will be paid a consistent wage for regular work—regardless of the number of emergency repairs required. AQT will focus on one overriding imperative: well uptimes of >99%. The project seeks to improve water security, reduce toxic pollution from aging pipes, and reduce the burden on women and children of fetching contaminated water from far-off sources.
Eastern Menonnite University — $17,500
The Connecting Circles Collective (3C) is an initiative focusing on leadership coaching for African American women and girls at three pivotal life junctures: childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. 3C is being pioneered by locally recognized African American leaders all of whom have significant expertise in mentoring. 3C is launching a unique collaboration between these local organizations: Roberta Webb (early childhood education), Harriet Tubman (cultural and heritage center), Destiny’s Daughters (young women’s leadership development program), and Iron Dresses (a professional and career mentoring initiative). The Collective will provide mentorship for three cohorts of African American young women: (1) young girls through the Roberta Webb Center, (2) adolescents through involvement with the Harriet Tubman Cultural Center and Destiny’s Daughters, and (3) emerging professionals through engagement with the Iron Dresses program. Faculty from Eastern Mennonite University will play a convening role in serving the Connecting Circles Collective’s local leaders. 3C uses an approach that consciously addresses historic racial harm and current structural discrimination. This is done at each of the program’s sites in age-specific ways, beginning with mentoring practices that reinforce valuation of cultural heritage and culminating with advocacy activities that address issues of access and equity.
Eastern Mennonite University: Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions — $15,000
The Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions (CSCS) sought funding to support diverse youth voices in the participants of their 2021 Climate Ride – a cross-country bicycle trip designed to leverage youth participation and enthusiasm in order to raise awareness of, and participation in, climate issues. A group of at least 15 participants will bicycle 4,000 miles from Washington state to New York City from May to July 2021, passing through a variety of communities impacted by climate issues in different ways and/or having significant Anabaptist populations.
Selection of participants will give priority to youth from diverse backgrounds, with a focus on using CSCS connections with Mennonite campuses to recruit college students. ‘Climate Scholarships’ will subsidize bike ride participants who are youth representing BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color), low-income, international and gender perspectives.
Staunton Creative Community Fund — $15,000
Using entrepreneurship as a pathway for greater economic equality, Staunton Creative Community Fund (SCCF) will create a two-pronged funding pool for women and minority-owned businesses in the Shenandoah Valley. The first funding pool will be a full scholarship program for SCCF’s 8-week business planning course called Business Bootcamp. Business Bootcamp is an opportunity for aspiring and established entrepreneurs to create a strong business model; learn about financial, marketing, and leadership best practices; and importantly, to grow their network of peers and subject matter experts. The second funding pool will be a grant program for minority and women-owned businesses who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 and other barriers to financial resiliency. To increase short-term liquidity, SCCF plans to distribute eight $2,000 grants to local women and minority business owners in 2021. Over the past 12 years, 78% of SCCF small business clients have been women or minorities.
Bridge of Hope, Inc — $12,500
Bridge of Hope addresses economic and gender justice through the work of ending family homelessness. Their mission is two-pronged: to end family homelessness through a comprehensive program of case management and empowerment, and to invite Christians to live out the call of Jesus to love their neighbors as themselves by walking alongside a family facing homelessness. Bridge of Hope seeks to provide resources specific to the needs of women with children facing homelessness, such as support networks, resources for childcare, and whole family case management, which addresses the needs of each person in the household.
Their 2020 project will expand their focus on racial inequities. Racism in the church, housing discrimination, the racial inequities of homelessness, and other societal factors that directly and indirectly impact homelessness will be examined. Through this project they hope to advance their analysis of the intersection of racial and gender disparities in homelessness, and present that to the partnering churches. This project includes outreach to create more partnerships with churches of color and increased focus on racial equity in their daily work of ending homelessness.
Sisters of St. Francis — $11,617
Project Hope, initiated in 2006 by the Sisters of St. Francis, was founded to assist immigrant working families in obtaining legal immigration documents and providing families with information about the rights and responsibilities of persons living within the U.S. Their focus is on trying to help families stay together rather than be torn apart. Accredited to practice immigration law, Project Hope helps immigrants through classroom training to prepare for naturalization interviews, files immigration documents, and provides legal representation. Services are offered to low-income immigrants regardless of culture, faith, or financial background.
Their project goals for this grant cycle include assisting Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) eligible for citizenship and U.S. Citizens to petition for other family members to learn the process to apply for citizenship; to work with USCIS and National Visa Center (NVC) to submit applications and compile information to seek legal status (Green Cards, Immigrant Visas, or Citizenship); to work with individuals to submit documents and to prepare for interviews with U.S. Embassies in various countries; to work with partnerships, including local libraries, local high schools, and churches, to outreach to persons in need of assistance; to assist LPRs that have perceived barriers through the citizenship process (financial, language, cultural, etc.); and to uniquely celebrate equality by pairing local volunteer mentors (already U.S. Citizens) with immigrants going through the preparation process to become new citizens.
Mennonite Women USA — $10,000
Mennonite Women USA Sistering Campaign: Choosing Sisterhood works at issues of race, ethnicity, and gender oppression. Sistering invites women to find a woman different from herself and develop an intentional relationship with her. MWUSA challenges women to leave their comfortable, identical spaces and get to know others of different races, ethnicities, and socioeconomic status.
The campaign began by examining MWUSA organizationally. Then retreats were provided for women pastors and young college age women who often do not have access to or experience with intercultural supportive relationships. These new learnings led them to develop the Choosing Sisterhood Masterclass. MWUSA is a 105-year old organization started by Anabaptist women who did not have a voice or structural power in the church; women’s service was relegated to missions and supportive roles, but through MWUSA they organized themselves to engage in service. As the years went by and the face of Anabaptist women changed, the organization tried to include diversity by using diverse media images and sharing stories of and by WOC, but it was clear that these endeavors were still operating under the old mindset of tokenism and saviorism. This project seeks to further alterations to the governance structure of MWUSA to more productively include diverse voices and perspectives.
Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery Coalition — $8,800
The Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery Coalition’s goal is to heed their call toward deeper solidarity and reparations, and engage Anabaptists to respond in more tangible, reparative ways to the Doctrine of Discovery (the legal justification of Church-sponsored colonialism that arose in the 15th century). They believe that the gospel of Jesus calls us toward a repentance that entails restitution, making amends and working together toward a future defined by justice and peace.
The project proposed the creation of a Reparative Justice Resource. They will publish a resource of about 60-80 pages available online and in print format. Approximately 25 settler and Indigenous contributors will offer creative examples, stories, and Biblical and theological foundations for reparative justice, including land acknowledgments and reparations.They formed a four-person Indigenous Advisory Council to provide needed feedback throughout the process, and plan to feature artwork from at least four Indigenous artists within the publication.
Peacebuilders Camp, Inc. — $8,000
Peacebuilders’ mission is to provide a transformative summer camp experience that empowers a diverse community of youth to work toward peace, justice and human rights. Their programming is based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Discussions, activities, field trips, and service opportunities introduce campers to issues related to each right and to individuals who work to expand access to that right. Their curriculum is expanding to connect to gender, environmental, and economic justice in new and focused ways:
Environmental Justice: Using the right to social order as a starting point, campers consider how climate change threatens social order. Discussions of the right to housing, the right to asylum, and disability rights are also included examples of vulnerabilities and injustices that climate change exacerbates.
Economic Justice: The right to hold a meaningful job and to be paid fairly is explored through the lens of fair trade and other economic justice efforts. Discussions with activists working on these issues help campers understand the systemic roots of economic injustices, and the potential for systemic change toward greater equity.
Gender Justice: Peacebuilders models gender equality in their staffing and choice of guest facilitators, and in the roles we ask staff and campers to assume. In 2021, they will open space for conversations around issues of LGBTQ+ identity and its intersection with specific human rights.
Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund — $7,000
The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) assists communities as they advance historic first-in-the-nation laws, including some of the first Right to Climate laws and the first law recognizing the rights of a specific ecosystem. CELDF partners with communities to protect them from harmful corporate projects using strategies that are ecologically centered and championed by community members through democratic action. Their mission is to build sustainable communities by assisting people to assert their right to local self-government and the Rights of Nature.
CELDF drives systemic change to transform our current system of law from one centered on endless growth and extraction to one centered on people, nature and sustainability, and to overcome the legal doctrines of corporate “rights” and state preemption that act as barriers to sustainability. This project launches their online Democracy School — an engaging and interactive educational and organizing tool that assists CELDF in building relationships with community partners. The new Democracy School curriculum uncovers the systemic barriers that prevent people from creating the just, fair, safe and sustainable communities and economies they envision and desire. They will offer the school at no cost to communities facing social and environmental harms and develop a Democracy School toolkit to share with communities hosting and participating in a virtual school. This toolkit would include course materials and a DIY Guide to Local Lawmaking.
Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center — $5,000
Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center provides vital supportive services, health, arts & culture, youth, and pride programs to empower the thousands of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community members that call Eastern Pennsylvania home. They are the only professionally-staffed LGBT Community Center which serves this expansive region. They offer 15 monthly supportive services groups which directly address gender justice in the Lehigh Valley, oriented to build community and help multiply marginalized people in the community find peer support. Supportive services include Lehigh Valley Lesbians, a transmasculine group, a transfeminine group, and a queer / trans people of color group, as well as others. Each group was created based on the needs and desires of the community they serve.
Chicago Center for Urban Life and Culture — $5,000
Chicago Center equips college students and other participants to learn from diverse urban communities through innovative programs, seminars and internships. The Center expands the traditional classroom with a community-based, first voice pedagogy that prepares its students for greater self-awareness and global citizenship. The environmental resources that they bring into the classroom are not represented in published texts and are often neglected as voices of expertise on conversations related to environmental racism and environmental justice.
Prioritizing Issues around pollution, food security, protection of public space, water quality, sustainable economies, and more, these issues often reflect the inequities in both race and class. Their project design focuses on empowering and elevating voices from the following organizations: Friends of the Park, Friends of the River, People for Community Recovery, North Park Nature Center, North Park Village Nature Center, The Plant, and Growing Home.
Collective Justice — $5,000
Collective Justice (CJ) is a semi-autonomous project incubated at the Public Defender Association whose programs represent a collaboration between the University of Washington’s Center for Human Rights and API Chaya. Born out of conversations with – and entirely nurtured by – survivors of interpersonal and state violence, CJ’s mission is to build relationship-based responses to harm that center the dignity of all people and harness the collective power of communities most impacted by violence toward systems transformation.
They serve both free and incarcerated survivors of multiple forms of violence including those who have lost loved ones or themselves survived gun violence, domestic and sexual violence, and other serious harm. The communities they serve are primarily POC (Black, Latinx, Indigenous and API), queer and trans, and range in age from young adults to elders and represent the communities most impacted by violence in their region. Through direct healing circles, technical assistance, and support for individuals navigating both sides of the criminal legal system, they work to support the survival of their community while building collective power.
Scholars Latino Initiative — $5,000
Scholars Latino Initiative (SLI) changes the life trajectory of individuals, their families, and their communities by providing college opportunities and support for first-generation Latino/x high school students. The grant will support SLI college scholarship and computer awards for SLI scholars beginning college and dual enrollment tuition assistance for SLI scholars to earn college credit while still in high school.
SLI’s innovative approach creates college opportunities for its scholars in its unique and replicable programs in Harrisonburg, Richmond, and Winchester, Virginia. In collaboration with university faculty and high school teachers, SLI offers opportunities for rigorous academic challenge through “Early College” seminars, leadership development and community service, and supportive mentorships. Scholars are further empowered by SLI’s dual enrollment tuition assistance while in high school, computer awards, and scholarships.