The JustPax Fund is pleased to announce the organizations and initiatives that received funding in our 2021 application round.
New Community Project / GiveSolar – $45,000 per year for 2 years
GiveSolar was established in June 2018 as an incubator project of New Community Project, with the mission to assist nonprofit organizations and low-income homeowners in gaining access to solar energy through organizing community-based mutual aid. In February 2021, GiveSolar launched a Solar Seed Fund campaign, which aims to assist 20 Habitat for Humanity households to install solar on their homes in the Harrisonburg region. The Solar Seed Fund pays the $5,000 up-front cost of installing solar, while the homeowners repay this cost over the term of their mortgage, thereby regenerating the funds for use by future Habitat homeowners. GiveSolar proposed a two-year JustPax Fund project that aims to implement similar solar programs for the benefit of all Habitat for Humanity affiliates across Virginia. As promotional, fundraising, and solar-installation programs are developed to fit the unique needs of each affiliate, these programs will be added to an online “Solar Access Toolbox” that will allow other affiliates to follow suit. Urgent challenges addressed by this project include access to affordable clean energy for low-income households, economic insecurity caused by energy burden, and the widespread transition to low-carbon energy sources that is necessary in order to avoid a global climate crisis.
Project GROWS / Youth Leaders in Agriculture – $25,000 per year for 3 years
Project GROWS’ Youth Leaders in Agriculture: Growing a Generation of Sustainability Changemakers has the goal to transform structures of oppression within and through the food system. This project builds on a successful pilot project launched with previous support from the JustPax Fund and seeks to transform injustices through locally-based, sustainable, and replicable models of justice, including racial and economic injustices in food access; health disparities that arise when access to healthy food is unjustly determined by race, class, and privilege; and economic, racial, and gender injustices centered around who is recognized as a farmer, who has knowledge and access to land, and who is justly compensated for food and sustainability efforts. The Youth Leaders in Agriculture program is a comprehensive multi-year initiative to recruit, train, and mentor young adults in the work of sustainability and food justice. The program recruits from economically, environmentally, and structurally disadvantaged neighborhoods: one half of participants in the pilot program were documented as low-income, one half were female or non-binary, and one was a court-involved student. This initiative places youth leaders on the farm, in community organizing roles, and in contact with food justice career opportunities while building a generational pipeline of creative changemakers. The progressive, three year program (moving from Junior interns, to Senior leaders, to alumni mentees) ensures their success is tracked and supported from early interest to mature contacts with a regional web of sustainability farmers and advocates.
Awamaki – $20,000 per year for 2 years
Awamaki has spent the past 12 years creating lasting impact in the remote mountains of Peru by helping Andean women artisans launch successful small businesses creating authentic, high-quality products and experiences. Awamaki invests in women’s skills, connects them to market access and supports their leadership so they can increase their income and transform their communities. The suspension of tourism over the past 18 months affected the artisans and their businesses severely. The artisans’ businesses depended on tourism, and their male family members worked in tourism as porters. Household incomes dropped to nearly zero and families faced deep economic insecurity. With support from JustPax, this program will help Awac Phuna’s business grow as tourism returns. The first year of the project will focus on training workshops that teach the artisans both business and tourism skills, as well as the health management skills required by the pandemic. Led jointly by our Head of Women’s Cooperatives and our Sustainable Tourism Coordinator, the artisans will learn tourism product development; presentation skills; personal leadership, and teamwork.
Natural Lands Trust Incorporated – $20,000
Natural Lands’ DEIA journey began more than a decade ago when they made free access for all to their nature preserves a mission priority. Over time, that commitment grew to include a program focused on improving access to the outdoors in four diverse and under-resourced urban communities in their region—Chester, Coatesville, Pottstown, and Philadelphia. Recognizing that these steps were insufficient to change the conservation movement’s exclusionary history and dynamics, their 2018-2021 Strategic Plan turned their attention to more fully addressing this challenge, with efforts focused on building an inclusive Natural Lands culture and recruiting underrepresented individuals to their staff and board leadership (Board of Trustees, President’s Council, and NextGen Council). Drawing from best practices and experiences at other organizations and modeling a decades-long Natural Lands internship program with demonstrated success, they designed their DEIA-FOCUSED FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM: A PATHWAY TO THE CONSERVATION PROFESSION. Historically, insufficient support systems (a lack of housing, transportation, competitive hourly wage, sense of community, and mentoring) are barriers to successful recruitment and retention of BIPOC individuals. This program seeks to address these barriers by incorporating adjusted pay, a transportation and housing stipend, and a nucleus community of colleagues and mentors.
Shenandoah Community Capital Fund – $20,000
Shenandoah Community Capital Fund (SCCF) writes: “Traditional systems of upward mobility are disproportionately inaccessible to women and people of color in the US. In response to these barriers, women and people of color…are statistically more likely to seek out entrepreneurship as a means of advancement than their white and/or male counterparts. In the past four decades the number of women-owned businesses has increased nearly 3,000%. Women of color make up 32% of women-owned businesses in the US, and have seen faster growth in the number of businesses, employees, and income than other women-owned businesses. At the same time, there are unique challenges that women entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs of color face.” Those challenges include less access to bank loans, even controlling for income. During COVID, emergency relief funds were not as available to women, Black, and brown business owners, partially due to lending institutions being less likely to approve those small businesses for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan funds. In response to these systemic challenges, SCCF’s Women, Black, and Brown-Owned Business Support program is a two-pronged funding pool for entrepreneurs in the Shenandoah Valley. The first funding pool is a full scholarship program for SCCF’s 8-week business planning course, Business Bootcamp, for entrepreneurs to create a strong business model; learn about financial, marketing, and leadership best practices; and grow their network. The second funding pool is a grant program for entrepreneurs of color and women entrepreneurs who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 and other barriers to financial resiliency.
Sustainability Matters – $20,000 per year for 3 years
In rural regions such as the Shenandoah Valley, agriculture wields an outsize impact on both the environment and the community. However, environmental conservation organizations have not traditionally enjoyed the best of relationships with farmers: there’s been distrust and antagonism on both sides. Within the agricultural sector, there are also disparate communities, with conservative, traditional farmers often reluctant to accept newcomers, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds (women and farmers of color). Sustainability Matters’ project “Greening Farms: Common Ground” is geared at finding and cultivating common ground both between farmers and environmentalists and within the agricultural community’s own political and socioeconomic spectrum. Since their founding in 2018, Sustainability Matters has made it a priority to reach out to all demographics, especially those resistant to environmental initiatives or overlooked in conventional conservation outreach. They build community pride around conservation projects in unexpected places (such as our “Making Trash Bloom” project, planting pollinator habitat at landfills) and provide families, farmers, and other community members with concrete tools to help the environment while helping themselves.
Our Community Place – $19,528
Our Community Place (OCP) requested funds for three, interrelated projects that build on previous grants from the JustPax Find:
- In 2016 JustPax funded the start-up of OCP’s “Kitchen Industries” program, which employed homeless people to work in a supportive environment. The program has been tremendously successful: over the last 5 years they’ve employed five people, all able to maintain employment despite severe physical and mental challenges, and all moved from homelessness into permanent housing. The program is now self-sustaining from an operational perspective but requested small capital contributions for updated kitchen equipment.
- OCP believes that helping those most in need in our society takes a two-prong approach: direct services that empower people and structural change through education, advocacy, and getting government involved. This public policy initiative includes community organizing work around a local affordable housing plan, the funding of a Housing Trust Fund, and updating zoning laws to allow more affordable housing construction.
- Third, most of the population OCP works with has lower educational levels. Their staff is very diverse and includes many folks with low education, and they proposed a series of workshops for staff of our agency and other homeless providers to understand and deal compassionately with people who are differently gendered.
Engage Globally – $15,375
Engage Globally supports community-led sustainable development in six villages in rural, Northern Ghana. In 2014, the community identified education as their priority. This led to the building and operation of two early childhood learning centers and a youth scholarship program, which now enroll 430 students. In 2017, several youth, who were too old to return to school, asked if there were any opportunities for them. This led to the creation of a pilot vocational training program with young women who trained to be seamstresses. Today, they have 17 trainees in their vocational program (ages 16 to 25) and five graduates who have begun small businesses in the communities. These businesses provide services such as school desk construction, bicycle repair, and sewing of school uniforms. The program is now in high demand because it has opened up economic opportunities for the trainees and their families and created the first woman-owned business in the area. Engage Globally requested grant support to add additional trainees and expand training opportunities.
Bradbury-Sullivan LBGT Community Center – $10,000
Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center provides vital supportive services, health, arts & culture, youth, and pride programs to strengthen and support the LGBT Community of eastern Pennsylvania. Through their community and support groups they directly address gender justice in the Lehigh Valley and provide spaces for a multiply marginalized community to find peer support. Their supportive services include Lehigh Valley Lesbians, a transmasculine group, a transfeminine group, a queer / trans people of color group, and a group for asexual and aromantic people. Gender discrimination is a barrier that LGBT individuals have to face every day. Each peer-led group allows for members of a specific intersection of the community to engage with others that share similar backgrounds, experiences, and challenges to come together and celebrate, commiserate, network and organize. In 2020, as the pandemic hit their community, they were able to serve 298 unique community members participating in supportive services. As they transition out of the COVID-19 lockdown, they need to adapt to in-person events and create a hybrid model for many of their meetings. To adequately serve their community in a time of crisis, this grant will fund upgraded technology and create new programs specifically to meet the needs of a more virtual world.
Eastern Mennonite University, Center for Justice and Peace Building – $8,500
The United States has the highest rate of incarcerated individuals in the world. The long-term, intergenerational consequences of having a family member incarcerated means that the negative impacts of the prison system extend well beyond the person convicted of a crime. Nationwide, African Americans are incarcerated at more than 5 times the rate of whites. The rate of growth for female imprisonment has been twice as high as that of men since 1980. There are 1.2 million women under the supervision of the criminal justice system. The bail bonds systems, penalties, and blocks to employment after release further solidifies the connections between the incarceration system, racism, and the perpetuation of intergenerational poverty. In Virginia, the Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorneys, the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP), and the FairField Center are implementing a Restorative Justice Diversion Pilot Project. Funding from the JustPax Fund will support expanded social and economic justice mentoring for the facilitators and a more robust monitoring and evaluation system to generate more detailed recommendations for running a diversion program that centers social and economic justice.
Shenandoah Valley Scholars Latino Initiative – $8,000
By collaborating with local university faculty, high school teachers, and a community of supportive donors, Shenandoah Valley Scholars Latino Initiative (SLI) provides college access opportunities and support for Latino/x high school students, thereby changing the life trajectory of individuals, their families, and their communities. In most cases the first in their families to attend college, SLI scholars and their parents often lack knowledge about preparing for and applying to college, accessing financial aid or other funding, or navigating college life. Through its program offerings, and with its direct financial supports, SLI helps them pursue success in higher education. The JustPax funds will support computer awards, dual enrollment tuition assistance for students to earn college credit while still in high school, and programming that includes mentoring relationships.