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Trans Resilience Fund offers direct support for a community largely overlooked by COVID 19 recovery funding

May 12, 2021 Category: FeaturedFundingMedium
The needs of transgender people have been largely overlooked during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In recognition of this, the Gender Justice Fund has organized a pooled fund of $170,000 to distribute to organizations specifically focused on the trans community.

The Trans Resilience Fund (the Fund) is a special one-time fund, and will provide grants of $5,000, $10,000, and $20,000 to nonprofits and grassroots groups serving the trans community in Philadelphia and surrounding counties.

Funds are intended primarily to be used to provide direct support to members of the trans community, but smaller groups may also use funds for service delivery, organizing, and operations. Organizations do not have to be incorporated as a 501 (c)(3) or have a fiscal sponsor to apply.

Farrah Parkes. (Courtesy photo)

“There are several unique things about this new Fund,” said Farrah Parkes, executive director of the Gender Justice Fund. “The first is that it is available to groups which are not yet incorporated as formal nonprofits. These are emerging groups which might not have had any access to funding before, so we are hoping  this might give them the financial stability they need to organize themselves, to be able to get a fiscal sponsor, or maybe just to get them more connected to philanthropy.”

The second thing about this Fund which is different than the way the General Justice Fund usually operates is that it will use a participatory grantmaking model for decision-making. Gender Justice Fund will manage the grant application process, but funding decisions will be made by a nine-member committee consisting of transgender community members from the Philadelphia region, almost all of whom are people of color.

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“When creating this Fund, our research was partially informed by a study from the Human Rights Campaign, which outlines the negative impact of the pandemic on the transgender community, especially on trans communities of color,” Parkes sad. “The Gender Justice Fund has been working on creating a stronger connection with the trans community, and I’ve been doing a lot of that outreach. It seemed like a natural progression to have the actual decision-making for distribution of this money come from the community members it will impact.”

Parkes added: “As a small foundation, this is the first time we have done any participatory grantmaking, and we’re really excited about stewarding that process. Funding from the Philadelphia Foundation has enabled us to compensate the grant committee members for their time.”

The Gender Justice Fund grew out of the New Century Guild, an organization established in 1882 to focus on “the social, industrial, educational cultivation and improvement of working girls and women without any sectarian distinction.” The Guild played a critical role in the women’s suffrage movement. The organization was reincorporated a private foundation in 2016 and rebranded as the Gender Justice Fund in 2020. The Gender Justice Fund fights to end all forms of gender-based oppression through trust-based philanthropy and by amplifying community-led systems change.

“People used to hear our name and think we were a bank,” Parkes said. “One of the reasons we wanted our new name was to better reflect our dedication to supporting all forms of gender oppression, not just repression against cis women.”

“We know that Philly has a significant trans population. COVID recovery funds supporting the trans community have been created in other cities, but this is the first of its kind in Philadelphia,” Parkes added.

“We will be working with a trans ethnographer who will be documenting the project — sitting in on meetings, interviewing with committee members, and interviewing the grantees,” she said. “We will be sharing what we learn from the experience, both from the perspective of funding trans issues — which is unfortunately still relatively new to most foundations — and in terms of the participatory grantmaking framework. All of our funding partners are really interested in the outcomes of this project.”

In addition to the Gender Justice Fund, the Trans Resilience Fund is made possible through support from Collective Future Fund, Douty Foundation, Philadelphia Foundation, Samuel Fels Fund, Valentine Foundation, William Penn Foundation.

The application deadline is Friday, May 28, 2021 @ 5 p.m. EDT. If you are interested in applying to this Fund, there are two information sessions being offered:

  • Information Session 1: Wednesday, May 12 @ 10:30 a.m. on Zoom Register here
  • Information Session 2: Thursday, May 13 @ 6 p.m. on Zoom Register here

Eligible applicants will be invited to an interview with members of the grantmaking committee during the month of June, with grant announcements made in late July. Email Gender Justice Fund with questions about eligibility or about the application form.

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