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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 April, Georgia’s state legislature ended its session with the passage of HB 481 – a fetal heartbeat bill that bans most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. Similar legislation is sweeping across surrounding Southern and Midwestern states, including neighboring Alabama, which recently passed the most restrictive anti-abortion bill in the country that bans abortion in all cases, without exemption for rape or incest. The passage of HB 481 and other extreme anti-abortion bills in Southern states threatens abortion services not only in Georgia, but in the Southern region as a whole. The fast track pace of these bills is causing widespread fear among people who believe they cannot get abortions. To combat this, with support from Groundswell’s Rapid Response Fund, Access Reproductive Care – Southeast (ARC-SE) will embark upon a Southern tour to talk to abortion clinics, organizations, and individuals to educate about and strategize in response to Georgia’s anti-abortion ban. ARC-SE, a Catalyst Fund grantee and Grassroots Organizing Program (GOI) participant, is a woman of color-led organization that helps Southerners and their families navigate the pathways to access safe, compassionate, and affordable reproductive care by providing financial and logistical support and building power. It is also part of local coalitions and campaigns to protect and defend abortion access, including the Amplify Campaign.
In March, the Highlander Research & Education Center suffered a devastating blow when one of its buildings was burned down, likely by a white supremacist. Highlander Center is a multi-racial social justice movement hub that for 87 years has been a political home for radical organizing and the Civil Rights movement. It stewards 200 acres of land and programming to support people of color-led and multi-racial movement work. Decades of archives from various social movements, including the Civil Rights era, were destroyed in the fire attack. Highlander Center is a catalyst for grassroots organizing and movement building in Appalachia and the South, which puts it in a highly visible position. It is also a fiscal sponsor of many social justice organizations across the South, including Groundswell grantees, so the loss of its main office has had far-reaching effects. With support from Groundswell’s Rapid Response Fund, Highlander focused its attention on providing holistic and physical security, not only to its staff but to grassroots leaders who were heartbroken by the fire and loss of artifacts and irreplaceable documents.
In mid-May, Alabama passed House Bill 31, another “heartbeat bill” that effectively bans abortion in the state. Alabama is also facing two other bills that would further restrict abortion. HB 491 is a “born alive” bill, which implies that health care professionals regularly kill or neglect newborns during the process of an abortion. Should this bill be passed, a physician who fails to provide adequate care would be charged with a felony, punishable to at least 20 years in prison and a fine of at least $100,000. HB 365 would create new clinical and reporting requirements that violate the Health Information Patient Protection Act (HIPPA) regarding youth seeking abortions. Yellowhammer Fund has been organizing against HB 314, and other restrictive abortion bills, alongside Groundswell Fund grantee URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity. Yellowhammer Fund is an abortion fund based in Alabama led by people most impacted by abortion restrictions: women of color, Black women, youth, LGBTQ people, and people with disabilities. As a volunteer-run fund operating with a small budget and part-time organizers, Yellowhammer Fund is looking into ways to become more sustainable. Groundswell’s Rapid Response funds will enable Yellowhammer Fund to increase the capacity of its organizers in order to continue having a presence at the Capitol and engaging other Alabamians on the urgent abortion and reproductive health legislation that is yet to be resolved.
In the United States, 700 women die each year from childbirth and another 50,000 suffer severe complications, making it the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world. In California, Black women make up 5% of the birth cohort, however they comprise 21% of pregnancy-related deaths. Thus, Black Women for Wellness (BWW), a Groundswell Fund Catalyst grantee and IVE participant, has written and secured a sponsor for proactive legislation with the goal of reducing the number of preventable pregnancy-related deaths. If passed SB 464, the Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act, would do four things: require perinatal staff (licensed and unlicensed) to take implicit bias training, which includes learning about reproductive justice; ensure that additional information is included in death certificates so California can improve its tracking of pregnancy-related deaths; require the California Department of Public Health to collect and publish data on mortality and morbidity by race and county; and make an addition to the Patient Bills of Rights that would inform perinatal patients how to file discrimination complaints. Groundswell is supporting BWW to carry out a legislative education day in Sacramento that will bring close to 100 Black women to the Capitol to meet with legislators, rally, and testify at a hearing to help continue advancing this life-saving legislation.