As we face an onslaught of local and national attacks on women of color and trans people of color, lack of access to a funding mechanism that can deploy resources quickly has cost women of color and trans people of color activists and organizations in the United States countless policy setbacks and missed opportunities for base-building.
In response, Groundswell Fund launched its Rapid Response Fund in January 2016. Dedicated to moving resources quickly and strategically, the Fund seeks to meet unforeseen needs and opportunities in the struggle to advance and defend social and reproductive justice organizing by women of color and trans people of color.
2019 grant requests can range from $1,500 to $5,000; averaging around $3,000. Groundswell may consider requests between $10,000 – $12,000, on a case-by-case basis.
Organizations are encouraged to email Cecilia Sáenz Becerra, Program Officer at email@example.com to schedule an intake phone call about your Rapid Response request. During the call, you should be prepared to answer questions about your request, organization, and budget. If applying for funding for a coalition or collaboration, please ensure that the person who does your intake call is prepared to answer questions about all the organizations involved in the project. You can have more than one person on the call.
Applications are considered on a monthly cycle. Organizations must submit their request by the 15th of each month to be considered for that month. Organizations will be notified of their award status by the 25th of that month. Requests received after the 15th will be considered for the following month. Grant requests are reviewed by Groundswell Fund staff members, who will also seek input from trusted stakeholders familiar with the region or issue. Final decisions will be made by Groundswell Fund’s Rapid Response Fund Grants Advisory Committee.
In 2018, the Rapid Response Fund awarded over 30 grants, up to $30,000, totaling $500,000 to local and state-based efforts in Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico as well as to several national efforts. These grants support a range of strategies and issues, including:
National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) received funding to set up an Emergency Defense Fund to support immigrant activist leaders who are criminalized or detained. Immigration is central to NLIRH’s work and the organization is asking its staff, leaders, organizers, and base members, many of whom are undocumented, to be on the frontlines. Since the election, many NLIRH leaders and activists have been targeted and attacked, and some detained by ICE. While its creation was prompted by the targeting of immigrants, the Defense Fund is also available to people who seek reproductive health care that might later be criminalized, e.g., accessing abortion and use of oral medications. The Fund will be open to NLIRH staff, activists, and anyone who has attended an NLIRH public event, and will focus on NY, FL, TX, and VA, states with an NLIRH Latina Activist Network. Using a simple application, individuals can request up to $5,000 to cover legal and other costs. NLIRH will make information about the fund available on its website and its field staff will inform people about the fund at public events throughout the year. NLIRH’s goal is to raise at least $100,000 for the Emergency Defense Fund over the next few months.
Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, founded in 2011, is a national coalition of farmworker women focused on immigration, violence against women and girls, pesticides, and labor conditions. It includes 17 grassroots and policy organizations that use community education, art activism, capacity-building and advocacy, to advance workers’ rights, reproductive justice, and environmental health. In early 2018, the organization made international news after writing a #MeToo letter to the women of Hollywood about the high levels of sexual harassment and workplace violence in low wage work – far higher than in the entertainment industry. The letter led to the formation of the #TimesUp initiative. Alianza received Rapid Response funding to organize, with National Domestic Workers Alliance, an April 2018 Advocacy Day in Washington DC to call for an end of workplace sexual violence. Alianza also used Rapid Response funding to ramp up its response to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) threats to rollback existing pesticide protections that threaten farmworker women’s health, fertility, and infant health. In coordination with its grassroots partners, Alianza ran a Moralitos storytelling and public education campaign to draw attention to the environmental health and reproductive harms faced by migrant farmworker women, children, and communities that neighbor fields exposed to pesticides. Until recently, Alianza was a volunteer-run organization, but thanks to increased publicity from #TimesUp, the organization is now able to scale up the work it has carried out without funding for the past seven years.
Black LBGTQIA Migrant Project (BLMP) is a national grassroots network launched in 2017 to stand at the intersection of criminal justice, immigration reform, and trans liberation. No other national organization within either the national immigration debate or the Movement for Black Lives addresses the specific needs and priorities of Black LGBTQ immigrants. Led by a 12-person steering committee of Black queer migrants, 50 percent of whom identify as TGNC and 80 percent of whom are under the age of 30, BLMP focuses on leadership development, capacity building, and organizing. BLMP received Rapid Response funding to develop multi-lingual Know Your Rights institutes for its Bay Area and DC, Maryland, and Virginia (DMV) chapters in light of increased ICE raids; and to host a national gathering of 150 Black LGBTQ migrant leaders, the largest ever, to develop organizing and resistance strategies in the criminal justice and immigration movements. Rising homophobic/transphobic sentiments in Africa and the Caribbean are forcing more Black LGBTQ immigrants to the U.S., where they are then met with anti-Black policing, xenophobic backlash, and a lack of intersectional and culturally competent services from immigration groups, Black-led groups, and LGBTQ groups. This leaves Black LGBTQ migrants more vulnerable to the dual threats of immigration enforcement and the criminal justice system. According to recent research by the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), nine percent of immigrants in the U.S. identify as Black, yet more than 20 percent of immigrants facing deportation on criminal grounds are Black. Trans and gender nonconforming migrants are at even greater risk. BLMP notes that the immigration pathways upon which Black migrants rely are now under attack: temporary protected status (TPS) revocation for Haiti, changes to asylum “credible fear” thresholds, threatened cps to refugee resettlements, threats to family migration and visa and travel bans for Eritrea, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Chad, Libya, and Somalia. BLMP will coordinate organizing strategies created by Black LGBTQ migrant leaders, particularly transwomen and TGNC people, and develop collective responses to the recent TPS and DACA announcements; the new wave of ICE raids; and increased LGBTQ criminalization globally. Using a base-building strategy that incorporates its’ Know Your Rights institutes and pro-bono legal services, BLMP’s CA and DC -area local chapters will support and recruit Black LGBTQ immigrants who are often isolated and without a cohesive community to organize for action. This base-building work is part of a longer-term strategy to build power in disconnected communities and develop local campaigns driven by the needs of Black LGBTQ migrants.
Birthmark Doula Collective received funding to better serve Black and brown Spanish-speaking immigrant families with perinatal care in the New Orleans area in response to increased ICE presence and deportations in Louisiana. Birthmark provides birth doula and postpartum doula services, and childbirth, breastfeeding, parenting education, and lactation support to women and their families in the NOLA metro area. Birthmark has long created and translated materials into Spanish, and built relationships with peer organizations that serve and organize Spanish speakers. The current political moment has amplified the importance of this bilingual support and the need to increase both its scope and accessibility. To do so, Birthmark will use Rapid Response funding to help hire a Spanish-speaking administrative staff person, and conduct community teach-ins with other organizations to further understanding of how birth justice is relevant to immigrant families, and streamline the referral process for families to access perinatal services. This work is co-funded in partnership with the Third Wave Fund.
Ancient Song Doula Services: In April 2018, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo unexpectedly announced his support for Medicaid reimbursement of doulas. While this should have been great news for poor women of color across the state, the Governor’s proposal was developed without the participation of the community and with no accountability to it. Since 2010, Groundswell’s Birth Justice Fund grantee Ancient Song has advocated for Medicaid reimbursement (which the state has always said was too complicated to attempt), and is now concerned that the Governor’s plan shuts out doulas, community organizations, and low-income communities from strategy and implementation, and is overseen instead by a Perinatal Taskforce, none of whose members have doula training. The plan is rolling out without transparency, and even more troubling, reimbursement will likely require complicated licensure requirements that will favor white-led doula organizations over grassroots doulas of color. The Rapid Response Fund is supporting a new coalition, led by Ancient Song, along with Black Mamas Matter Alliance, Center for Reproductive Rights, Caribbean Women’s Health Association, and Village Birth International, to convene strategy meetings, launch a letter writing campaign, develop a webpage to educate consumers, and organize women on Medicaid and their families to pressure the NY State Department of Health and elected officials to bring doulas, especially doulas of color, into the planning and implementation of Medicaid reimbursement and the creation of a state Maternal Mortality Review Board.
SEPA Mujer and Adhikaar One Fair Wage campaign: The One Fair Wage (OFW) New York Coalition is working to eliminate the lower minimum wage for tipped workers, e. g., workers in restaurants, at car washes, and in nail salons, and ensure that all workers are paid the full minimum wage. As two women of color-led grassroots organizations in the coalition, Adhikaar and SEPA Mujer jointly sought funding from the Rapid Response Fund to mobilize low-wage women of color to highlight the issue of sexual harassment and violence resulting from the sub-minimum wage. Adhikaar organizes low-wage communities to improve the lives of the Nepali-speaking community in Queens, and SEPA Mujer supports immigrant women, many of whom are undocumented immigrants, in isolated communities in Long Island to speak out against injustice, provide access to services, and take a stand against violence against women. Both organizations support the OFW Coalition to center gender issues and WOC low-wage workers, and approached Groundswell to seek funding for its local WOC-led partners so they can participate fully in the coalition. Smaller organizations don’t have dedicated funding to cover staff time and support their bases by covering travel, childcare, etc., so they can participate in hearings, actions, and meetings. With this funding, SEPA Mujer and Adhikaar will organize within the coalition to raise awareness about how the sub-minimum wage puts a predominantly women of color workforce at risk for sexual harassment and legalizes the gender pay gap.
West Virginia Free (WV Free): West Virginia is one of only 17 states that allows Medicaid coverage of abortion. However, in late 2017, West Virginia Free (WV Free) discovered that a bill to put an initiative on the November 2018 ballot to amend the state Constitution to make it possible for the state to prohibit abortion and the funding of abortion was moving through the state legislature. Groundswell’s Rapid Response Fund approved a quick $10,000 non-lobbying grant to enable WV Free to carry out a public education campaign to defeat the bill. Unfortunately, the bill passed. WV Free working as part of a statewide coalition is ramping up its fight to defeat the measure, now Amendment 1 on the November ballot. With this additional funding, WV Free will organize in support of women’s health, educate the public of the dangers of Amendment 1, and urge West Virginians to vote no.
Young Women United: This Rapid Response Fund grant supports Young Women United (YWU) to produce a feature film, one directed by and starring industry professionals: director Ryan Lacen and actors Melissa Barrera and Jorge Garcia. Building on the tremendous success of YWU’s culture change campaign, the film will humanize and raise awareness about drug use, pregnancy, and violence, using a racial justice lens, in hopes of affecting the national conversation about opioid use. YWU members and staff will have leadership roles in all aspects of production and distribution. YWU hopes to market the film to film festivals and mainstream circuits, like Hulu or Netflix, which could reach millions of viewers. The story was created as part of YWU’s cultural work: seven members used their own experiences with substance use, pregnancy and parenting to create the story. The hope is that the film will advance important issues in New Mexico and nationally, like ban the box legislation; reforming Child Protective Services to support mamas and their children; increasing services to pregnancy related care within systems of incarceration; and requiring Medicaid reimbursement for Doula services.
Free & Fair Montana Coalition is a trans-led coalition of primarily grassroots organizations fighting I-183, an anti-trans ballot initiative proposed for the November 2018 Montana ballot. In 2017, the anti-LGBTQ/reproductive rights Montana Family Foundation (MFF) tried and failed to pass an anti-trans bathroom bill in the state legislature. It then began to collect signatures to place a near identical measure on the November ballot that would force people to use the public accommodations, e.g., restrooms and locker rooms, that align with the sex on their original birth certificate, not the gender by which they live and identify; and give cis people the ability to sue local and state governments, universities, and schools, anytime they believe someone used the “wrong” bathroom. If the measure had passed, Montana would have been the first state to enact an anti-trans public facilities ballot initiative, encouraging other states to move forward with similar efforts. Happily, thanks to strong coalition organizing – and in the middle of this request being considered – the signature gathering effort failed and the measure did not appear on the ballot. After the measure win, Free & Fair Montana used Rapid Response funding, to help uplift and support trans people of color, trans youth leadership development and build long-term power in the trans and non-binary community. Given Montana’s demographics (the state is almost 90 percent white), the coalition was not led by people of color, but its steering committee was intentionally 50 percent trans working class leaders, and people of color had meaningful roles on the steering and executive committees.
The New Orleans Breastfeeding Center (NOBC) is a woman of color-led organization formed by doulas and lactation consultants in New Orleans to promote breastfeeding within communities of color. Earlier this year, with the help of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology students, NOBC created and launched Lac-Pac, an emergency preparedness toolkit to promote safe infant feeding during disasters when young infants and children are at high risk for malnutrition, infection, and death. The toolkit includes an illustrated educational booklet and basic infant feeding supplies (feeding cup, sterilization equipment, sterile water, light, cover) designed to protect breastfeeding and feed babies safely during natural disasters and other crises, including hurricanes, unexpected homelessness, having to flee a domestic violence situation, etc. NOBC aims to get the kits mass-produced and to partner with and train emergency responder/disaster preparedness agencies to distribute them to families with infants and young children. The plan is to pilot Lac-Pac in three cities in 2018 (Washington, D.C., New Orleans, and Los Angeles) and Puerto Rico, where NOBC already has partners. The need to disseminate Lac-Pacs is urgent, since early summer is the time that agencies and families begin preparedness activities in advance of hurricane season. Kits will be used by NOBC itself, as well as in hospitals where the majority of those attending classes and support groups are women of color. NOBC is also meeting with NOLA emergency response teams to distribute the kits at shelters, and is in conversations with breastfeeding suppliers Spectra and Evenflo about mass-producing items in the kit. One of NOBC’s goals is to use kit distribution in NOLA as an organizing opportunity in low income communities, talking with mothers about what women and families of color need from the city during and after disasters.
Mijente, a WOC-led, membership-based political home for multi-racial Latinx and Chicanx people and organizations received funding to support direct action and organizing along the border in Texas and San Diego to challenge Operation Streamline, a joint U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Department of Justice program that allows for the prosecution of scores of migrants every day. Operation Streamline has been in place in Texas for more than a decade, and in May, the federal government announced plans to bring Operation Streamline to San Diego in early July. In response, Mijente announced huge actions and demonstrations in San Diego beginning July 1; the goal is to create disruption at such a scale that the program cannot continue. Mijente built a strong coalition that includes Movement for Black Lives, BlackOut, BlackBird, Bend the Arc, Faith Matters Network, Working Families Party, SONG, Hand in Hand, JREJ, Jewish Voices for Peace, IfNotNow, Auburn Seminary, all of Mijente’s local grassroots base building groups, e.g. Juntos (PA), Puente (AZ), GLAHR (GA) and more, including the Women’s March. With Groundswell Rapid Response funding, Mijente supported leaders, community members, healers, cultural workers, and faith leaders with travel and lodging to participate in successful, well-publicized, and powerful late June/early July actions along the Texas border and in San Diego under the banner Free Our Future.
California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative: With support from Groundswell’s Rapid Response Fund, Groundswell Catalyst Fund and Integrated Voter Engagement grantee California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative (CHNSC) advocated for two pieces of federal legislation advancing reproductive and environmental justice. Introduced into the U.S. Senate in April of 2018, the Environmental Justice Right to Know Act of 2018 would require manufacturers to notify nail salon workers about the chemicals in the products they are exposed to while on the job. The bill also calls for research and policy recommendations regarding the reproductive health impacts of personal and beauty care products, improved occupational ventilation standards, and a federal Healthy Nail Salon Program. In addition, while Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) launched a bipartisan effort to craft legislation to modernize the regulation of cosmetics, including nail products, and significantly reduce consumer and worker exposure to reproductive toxicants, CHNSC brought the voices and perspectives of women of color to the process by coordinating a roundtable of diverse stakeholders; conducting outreach and providing education to the nail salon community in English and Vietnamese; reaching out to mainstream, social, and ethnic media; and coordinating comments on the bill from women of color and reproductive justice partner organizations.
Neta: Based in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) at the U.S./Mexico border, Neta is a women of color-led progressive media platform that creates videos, articles, podcasts, and other digital content to amplify the voices of community members and lift up local organizing efforts. It works directly with community organizations to create and shape content and has a contributor network of a dozen people of color living across the RGV who are experts on topics including HIV, abortion, and immigration. Even after most national media left the region, Neta continues to tell the stories of immigrants and refugees coming across the border in order to keep family separation at the forefront of community and other media. With Groundswell support, Neta produced daily videos in English and Spanish to explain local conditions and immigration policies, to communicate news stories about issues and events that affect families and border communities, and to help turn out people to local actions. Neta works directly with partner organizations such as LUPE (La Unión del Pueblo Entero, an RGV-based community union) and the Texas Civil Rights Project to provide expert policy perspective. Groundswell funds supported video production, interpretation/translation, and online ads designed to reach different RGV communities.
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum: The nomination of conservative judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court created an urgent opportunity for reproductive justice organizations to speak out against the appointment. National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), along with the National Women’s Law Center and other reproductive rights and justice leaders, mobilized their members in a D.C. lobby day. Almost 100 people from NAPAWF’s base plus reproductive justice leaders from across the country convened in the Capitol to meet with almost every member of the Senate to urge a no vote. Despite Kavanaugh’s eventual confirmation, this effort strengthened NAPAWF’s organizing efforts because it marked the first time the organization took a lead role in partnering with other national reproductive justice organizations on an important RJ issue.
All* Above All, a women of color-directed national campaign, unites 140 organizations and hundreds of individuals to build public support for lifting the insurance bans that deny abortion coverage. Groundswell funding helped All* Above All convene, train, and support individuals and organizations to take action against the nomination of the conservative, antiwoman Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. All* Above All collaborated with several organizations primarily led by people of color: Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity (URGE), National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), National Network of Abortion Funds (NNAF), Jobs with Justice, Restaurant Opportunities Center United (ROC United), and the National LGBTQ Task Force. This mobilization took place right before All* Above All’s planned annual Day of Action to Repeal the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding of abortions. Even though Kavanaugh was confirmed by the U.S. Senate, this collaboration enabled reproductive justice groups to demonstrate their power and increase their direct action experience.
Advance Native Political Leadership (ANPL) is a grassroots project building political power for Native communities across the country. Of the 41,000 elected officials in the United States, 90 percent are white and 0.03 percent are Native American, the lowest percentage of any racial/ethnic group. Unexpectedly, a wave of Native American candidates ran for office in 2018 and became involved in electoral campaigns, fueled in part by momentum built at Standing Rock and the Indigenous contingent at the 2017 Women’s March. At a follow-up meeting to the march, more than 50 Indigenous women indicated interest in running for office. ANPL answered the call by organizing a 2018 National Native Power-Building Summit, designed as a place of training, convening, and lesson sharing in preparation for 2019/2020. The goal is to build power in Native communities and to share how people have used water and land fights to organize. ANPL also held a training on how to build effective campaign plans for and in Indian country.
Semilas: After Hurricanes Irma and María devastated Borikén (Puerto Rico), disaster response was slow to reach many affected people and queer and trans folks were often turned away from collecting aid from FEMA and other sources. The situation for queer and trans communities was especially urgent because of the increased violence and isolation these communities face. Semillas, an emerging collective of trans, Two Spirit, and gender nonconforming artists, organizers, and healers from Borikén, supports healing and regeneration within its communities after the destruction wrought by Irma and María. Groundswell support helped to create programming around wellness, food cultivation, and community collaboration and organizing. Co-funded in partnership with the Third Wave Fund.
Mujeres Unidas y Activas (MUA), a Groundswell Liberation Fund grantee, is a 28-year-old organization founded and run by immigrant women in the Bay Area. MUA sought Groundswell support to organize a series of public events to increase the visibility and leadership of immigrant women in the resistance to the federal administration’s draconian family separation policies. MUA participated in ally-organized actions, but its members felt that immigrant women were not as visible as they needed to be and so decided to launch a local campaign within the national fight. For example, when some Bay Area counties cancelled contracts to use county jails as ICE detention facilities, it was heralded as a win for immigrant rights. However, it also meant that detained people would be transferred out of state—away from their families. MUA is fighting for detainees to have local trials and is working with its longtime ally Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Network to organize local partners in support of immigrant women and their families. MUA also worked with the National Domestic Workers Alliance’s Families Belong Together campaign to amplify communications.
TransLatin@ Coalition (TLC), was founded by immigrant trans women and advocates to improve quality of life for transgender Latinas. TLC sought Groundswell funding in order to increase its capacity to support the 54+ trans women who are currently in, and getting released from, the Cibola Detention Center in Milan, NM. Local advocates will meet with the trans women being held in detention to get updates on their cases and needs, and prepare them for release. Trans women will also receive advocacy skills training so they can better navigate the system both inside and outside the detention center. TLC will continue to support these women after their release, connecting them to TLC chapter leaders across the country who can link them with emergency supportive services. The goal is ensure that all the women who are released have their basic needs met, are able to transition into society, and can continue to be engaged in long-term organizing. Another goal was to connect formerly detained trans women to the September 2018 Marcha de Las Putas, a transnational annual event against rape culture and victim blaming.
The Arizon Repeal Coalition is committed to repealing the more than 60 anti-immigrant laws and regulations enacted in Arizona at the state and local levels over the past few years and to advancing progressive laws and policies. Its goal is for everyone to live, love, and work wherever they want and with whom they please. Two years ago, the Repeal Coalition and its partners won passage of a city proposition that made Flagstaff the only city in Arizona with a $15 per hour minimum wage and created a city office dedicated to investigating wage theft. This new office enables undocumented women working in the hospitality industry to hold hotel and restaurant owners accountable for fair wages. With Groundswell support, in November 2018, Repeal and its allies Mijente and the American Civil Liberties Union successfully fought a local ballot initiative, Proposition 418, that would have overturned the minimum wage increase and abolished the wage theft office. With support from Groundswell’s Rapid Response Fund, Repeal and its allies helped to defeat this initiative by 56 percent. Repeal Coalition worked to advance the Keep Families Free and Together Ordinance, including turning out 30 speakers to the city council meeting. At the meeting, despite overwhelming support, but due to procedural runaround, the discussion was moved to take place at the end of March 2019. As a result of Repeal Coalition’s Flagstaff work, a similar initiative was released in Tucson, AZ, that will be on the ballot in 2019.
Western States Center: Measure 106, Oregon’s first anti-abortion initiative since 2006, appeared on the November 2018 ballot, placed there by antiwoman abortion foes in response to recent and groundbreaking reproductive health victories in that state. Groundswell’s Catalyst Fund grantees Western States Center (WSC) and Forward Together, along with Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU), became part of the executive committee of the broad coalition created to oppose the measure. With Groundswell support, the coalition conducted messaging, identified key partners, and developed and implemented a field strategy that focused on listening, and reaching out, to communities of color. Rapid Response funds supported staff time, paid media, and direct field campaign support. Thanks in part to the effective organizing supported by this grant, Measure 106 was soundly defeated by Oregon voters—65 percent to 35 percent.
Make the Road New York: In October 2018, the Trump administration proposed changing U.S. immigration regulations in order to make it harder for immigrants to enter the country by applying restrictions based on the likelihood of the applicant ever becoming a “public charge” (i.e., receiving such benefits as Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, General Assistance, or TANF). This move was designed to discourage immigration applications and ultimately reduce the overall number of immigrants in the country and will disproportionately affect undocumented, trans, and gender nonconforming immigrants during their Green Card application processes. Under the proposed changes, which would affect millions of immigrants, if an individual earns below the Federal Poverty Guidelines; has a health condition; or might need Medicaid in the future to obtain health care, medication, or hormones, authorities could determine they are a “public charge,” as a result of which their application for lawful permanent residence or their entry into the United States could be denied. Make the Road York (MRNY), a women of color-led, grassroots, membership-based organization, used Groundswell support to educate and organize its membership around these proposals—sharing information, organizing two-tiered clinics that include both legal and health teams to see how members might be affected, conducting member trainings, and developing leaders to run and facilitate trainings themselves. After the proposed rule changes were made public, a 60-day public comment period began. MRNY both responded as an organization and supported its members to make individual comments, relying on bilingual members to translate and upload comments made in Spanish so that all of its members’ voices were heard. (Note: the comment period ended in December 2018, but as of this writing, the administration has not published a final rule, which would take another 60 days to go into effect.)
The Alabama Black Women’s Roundtable (BWR) used Groundswell support to fight an anti-abortion ballot measure (Amendment 2) to amend the Alabama Constitution to state that “it is the public policy of the state to recognize and support the importance of unborn life and the rights of unborn children, including the right to life.” In other words, the state constitution would not recognize the right to an abortion and would prohibit state funding of abortions. The amendment was the culmination of years of attacks on reproductive justice in Alabama, which have resulted in the state having only one remaining abortion clinic. Using a corps of trained volunteers, BWR carried out grassroots outreach throughout the state to increase voter turnout and awareness about the measure, including door knocking low-propensity voters in 25 counties and educating voters outside the 40 targeted precincts on Election Day. In the end, Amendment 2 passed, but the margin of victory was smaller than anticipated—59 percent to 41 percent.
Contact Center: A membership-based organization made up of African American women who live in the inner-city neighborhoods of Cincinnati, OH, the Contact Center is committed to organizing for economic, social, and racial justice, and gender equality. Groundswell supported the Center to organize opposition to proposed changes in the SNAP (food stamp) program contained in the 2018 federal Farm Bill. The U.S. House of Representatives’ version of the Farm Bill would have cut nearly $17 billion from the SNAP program and placed work requirements (20 hours a week) on recipients, potentially affecting more than 1.5 million people. Most of the Center’s members are African American women who are raising children and grandchildren, have low-wage jobs, and are eligible for food stamps. These deep funding cuts, in addition to the work requirements, threatened their economic security. In a victory for grassroots organizing, in December 2018, the Congress passed a Farm Bill without any of these draconian cuts or changes to the SNAP program, which helps 40 million people feed their families.
Native Organizers Alliance: In October 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the state of North Dakota’s strict 2015 voter law requiring individuals to present an ID with a street address (not a P.O. box number) at a polling place in order to vote. With only a month to go before the elections, this ruling meant that many rural North Dakotans, and especially Native Americans living on reservations, might be denied their right to vote because their IDs would be declared invalid. The Standing Rock Sioux Nation asked the Native Organizers Alliance (NOA), a training and organizing network dedicated to building the capacity of Native people, tribes, and communities, to organize a statewide get out the vote (GOTV) response to the new address requirement. With Groundswell support, NOA launched a multifaceted rapid response strategy to mitigate the effects of this attack on voting rights. The organization set up an office to help Native Americans obtain tribal letters that affirmed their residency using GPS technology. NOA also organized volunteers to serve as poll watchers and mobilized voters to ensure that North Dakota’s Native communities were able vote on Election Day. In the end, voter turnout from Standing Rock Sioux Nation hit an all-time high, thanks to the leadership of the tribe, NOA, and many allies from inside and outside Indian Country.
Dream Defenders: In early 2018, Groundswell Liberation Fund grantee Dream Defenders, an organization of young Black, Brown, immigrant, and white working-class Floridians founded in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s murder in 2013, created a political agenda and seven-point plan for Florida called the Freedom Papers. However, over the course of 2018, conservative and corporate interests (particularly the NRA and the private prison industry) began attacking the Freedom Papers and any political leaders who signed on to them, attacking their antipolice stance and falsely painting them as anti-Semitic. These attacks quickly became a hot button in the Florida governor’s race, and Dream Defender leaders and members, and the politicians who supported them, found themselves under personal attack and fearful for their safety and security. In addition, the organization feared that these vicious attacks would so polarize Florida that it would no longer be able to organize and mobilize effectively. Groundswell supported Dream Defenders to launch a defense strategy that included communications, using newspaper and digital ads and videos to reclaim the narrative high ground about who they are and what they believe; grassroots organizing to collect and share stories from everyday Floridians about why the Freedom Papers speak to them; and developing and putting in place security protocols to protect Dream Defenders, its leaders, and its members.
Trans Sistas of Color Project (TSOC) uplifts the voices and wellbeing of trans women of color in Detroit, MI. With Groundswell support, TSOC created a safe space for trans women of color to congregate during the annual National LGBTQ Task Force conference, the largest LGBTQ convening in the nation, held in Detroit in January 2019. TSOC facilitated opportunities for trans women of color to share best practices for organizing, sustainability, and safety, and to develop strategies for navigating this era of racism, transphobia, and economic instability. TSOC felt that creating this space at this year’s Task Force conference was urgent given the Trump administration’s plans, made public in a leaked memo in 2018, to revoke and preempt any legal protections for transgender people.
Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement: In response to the family separation crisis, Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, a national queer and trans people of color-led organization, has widened the frame of family separation to embrace and highlight the needs of vulnerable populations, especially LGBTQ people. As part of this strategy, the organization launched an organizing and legal support campaign, #JusticeForRoxsana. Roxsana Hernandez was a 33-year-old trans, HIV+ Honduran woman who died while in ICE custody. Familia, along with ally organizations, seeks justice for Roxsana and to ensure that other trans people do not share her fate. With Groundswell support, Familia used media and communications strategies, in English and Spanish, to lift up the conditions of Roxsana’s incarceration and the circumstances of her death and use this tragedy to unite activists and organizers in the LGBTQ, HIV, and immigration movements. Familia is also mobilizing and convening organizations for strategy meetings around legal challenges to ICE treatment of trans immigrants and demanding the facts about Roxsana’s death.
No Justice No Pride (NJNP) is a District of Columbia-based trans and queer-led collective of organizers and activists. In response to the Trump administration’s continuing attacks on trans, gender nonconforming, Two Spirit, and intersex people, NJNP is pressuring the D.C. City Council and Mayor Muriel Bowser to pass a bill that would decriminalize sex work in D.C. and end the local transit agency’s practice of criminalizing fare evasion, which disproportionately affects poor communities of color. With Groundswell support, NJNP is using an array of tactics, including training direct action participants, organizing a rally and a petition drive, regular visits to elected officials, and organizing a petition and storytelling drop off, to force action on the bill.