This story is part of "Black Philanthropists" month of the Generocity Editorial Calendar. It is underwritten by Equally Informed Philly. It was not reviewed by Equally Informed Philly before publication.
The organization formerly known as New Century Trust is now Gender Justice Fund, a name that more closely aligns with its shifting priorities.
An over-a-century old establishment, New Century Trust was reincorporated in 2006 as a foundation. What started as a working women’s and suffragette advocacy and social club became a philanthropic effort to build the economic and political power of women and girls in southeastern Pennsylvania.
As Gender Justice Fund, that strategic vision will change again to now end all forms of gender-based oppression through trust-based philanthropy and a focus on systems change, culture change, and movement building.
“We are interested in supporting the movement [to end gender-based oppression] beyond the check,” said Gender Justice Fund’s Executive Director Farrah Parkes. “That might be amplifying the work of our grantees, partnering with them on events, and frankly, as a small foundation, figuring out how we bring more money and resources into this work.”
In 2019, Parkes succeeded Carey Morgan at what was then New Century Trust as its second executive director ever and the first Black woman. Though Parkes’s decades-long nonprofit career also included work in HIV prevention, community development, early childhood and adult education, and workforce development, she always had a focus on gender equity.
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The change of leadership was among a series of changes the organization has made over the past two years, which also included the sale of its nationally registered historic 1307 Locust St. building, relocation to the Friends Center, and a renewed dedication to philanthropy.
Parkes credits the former ED and the leadership and vision of the board for ushering in this more inclusive and comprehensive approach towards gender justice. Notably, however, the board did not have any members of color until just the last decade.
As part of the Women’s Funding Collaborative, Parkes co-authored a recent Generocity piece on COVID-19’s impact on women of color. She is inspired by how well grantees have adapted to this current moment of the pandemic and sociopolitical uprisings that have both exacerbated these disparities at the intersections of race and gender.
“I think that one of the things that really struck us when this all started happening was how prepared our grantees were for this, and how much it felt like we had been funding the right things all along. Our grantees have been busier than ever. They are magic.”
This month, Gender Justice Fund is co-hosting two upcoming virtual events with grantees: a conversation about advancing survivor justice in Philadelphia and a town hall addressing the impact of COVID-19 on Black and brown women.
“One of the things that I think is beautiful about the [new] name is that it is very specific, it tells people very immediately what we are,” said Parkes.
The Gender Justice Fund’s renaming will be commemorated by a week (August 10-14) of online engagement via its social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter ) and the launch of a new website, www.genderjusticephilly.org.
On the ultimate vision of gender justice realized, Parkes contemplates, “The future is gender free. The future is people just being who they are and everyone having the resources that they need and the freedom to be their most authentic best selves.”-30-
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