March 2021
2021 Spring Newsletter: Organizers Adapt to COVID-19 with Rapid Response Funding from PDF
PDF has supported organizing responses to the COVID-19 pandemic through our De Colores Rapid Response Fund, with over twenty grants made in seventeen different states to grassroots organizations adapting to this crisis and continuing to build momentum for justice.

Our grant partners on the ground have stepped in as lifelines in their communities. They provide essential information, resources, and support for their communities while illuminating inequities, protesting, and pushing for legislative change when necessary. PDF's 2021 Spring Newsletter shares some of their stories.
Fund for Empowerment - Phoenix, AZ
Chainless Change - Miami-Dade County, FL
Over 500 people experiencing homelessness died in 2020 in Maricopa County Arizona, a cruel and tragic reality in what is the wealthiest county in Arizona. Fund for Empowerment organizes people experiencing houselessness and they used rapid response funding from PDF to organize demonstrations in response to this housing crisis and to call for immediate action.

Director Elizabeth Vendale said, “Media attention to our protests helped us to expose injustice from a first-person perspective. Houseless folks were able to speak publicly about their struggles and experiences of criminalization. Thanks to support from PDF, our members had screen-printed shirts and signs that read ‘Houseless but not Hopeless’ and ‘Homes not Jails,’ as well as the necessary PPE to ensure COVID-19 safety.” 

Zachary Crow, Director of Decarcerate, the only state-wide organization in Arkansas focused on ending mass incarceration and another grant recipient from the De Colores Rapid Response Fund said, "This generous and timely grant has allowed us to acquire and implement tools and a system for managing digital advocacy campaigns that will allow us to continue our organizing and advocacy efforts safely and effectively.”

Chainless Change and Texas Prison Air Conditioning Advocates are other recipients who've been working to save the lives of loved ones and vulnerable populations behind bars. Other grant partners have been working on a range of issue areas, including housing justice and rent relief, LGBTQ+ rights, protection for undocumented immigrants, and education reform led by young people. Read our newsletter to find out more.
As PDF narrows our 2021 Community Organizing Grants docket, we are looking back at some of the successes we are hearing from our 2020 grant partners. The Transit Riders Union, based in Seattle, responded to proposed cuts to the city budget following a steep decline in ridership.

Katie Wilson said that, "Transit Riders Union worked with local racial, economic and climate justice allies to champion a 'Solidarity Budget,' which prevented major cuts to city programs and services." The coalition also successfully advocated for a community-driven participatory budgeting process that will begin in 2021.

Wilson added, “The PDF grant helped us to bring in sufficient funds for our operations in a very strange year while winning victories that are improving the lives of many thousands of low-income residents of the Seattle and King County.”
Another 2020 grant partner, Spencer Pride, an LGBTQ+ empowerment organization based in Spencer, Indiana, spoke of the benefits from the grant and from participating in PDF's capacity-building program, The Sustainability Project.

The grant relationship embodied in the Sustainability Project has promoted our organizational development," said an organizer with Spencer Pride. "Spencer Pride has developed a system for tracking and soliciting individual donors, created a mailing list for all past and present donors, and identified community activists with social justice commitments."

The Human Rights Coalition in Philadelphia said "The PDF grant has put HRC at an advantage by allowing us to acquire paid organizers. Our organizers are formerly incarcerated people and with them sharing their stories of surviving solitary confinement, we are attracting more volunteers who want to help in our efforts to end solitary confinement."
In memoriam to the lives lost this past year
In what has been a terribly painful year since the COVID-19 pandemic took off in the United States last March, we want to take a moment to grieve for the extraordinary losses our communities have experienced. We'd like to honor all those who've died in this country and around the world and want to recognize that this pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on marginalized communities. On behalf of all of us at PDF, we extend our deepest condolences and sympathies to those of you who've lost loved ones.
Two important figures to PDF's community have left this world this past year: Chief Sto-Khin Johnny Jackson of the Cascade Band of Yakama Indians and Hubert Ellis Sapp, a member of the PDF Board of Directors from 1990 - 1997.

Chief Johnny lived his life as a fisherman, organizer, leader, and teacher. He was involved for decades in defense of the Columbia River and the indigenous 'River People' who live along it, refusing to give up their Treaty Rights, sacred sites, food sources, and cultural heritage despite the damming of their rivers and encroachment on their lands. He was one of the leaders of PDF’s BASE Initiative from 2002 - 2012, and he remained connected to the PDF community until his passing in June, 2020.

Hubert Sapp was a member of Dr. King’s staff, Executive Director of the Highlander Center, the long-time Executive Director of the Bert & Mary Meyer Foundation, and a co-founder of the Southern Partners Fund. Hubert shared his tremendous experience and insight with the many movements underway during his lifetime, including in his years with PDF.

We extend our deepest condolences to both of their friends and family and know that their legacies in the peace and social justice movements will continue to live on.
BREAKING NEWS: All charges dropped for Nick Tilsen
Nick Tilsen, President and CEO of the NDN Collective, and 21 other Land Defenders were arrested for a demonstration protesting President Donald Trump's visit to the Black Hills on July 3rd, 2020. On March 22nd, NDN Collective announced that all charges have been dropped, coming after months of advocacy from grassroots groups, support from a legal defense fund, petitions, social media campaigns, and local and national media coverage.

This is a day of victory for our Movement and our People, and we will utilize it to catalyze our cause forward,” said Tilsen, “Thank you to everybody that prayed, called, wrote and supported us in this struggle."

Nick spoke to the PDF community on our October 2020 Peace Talk via Zoom. PDF has a long relationship with Nick, including being the first funder of the Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation, which he co-founded in 2005 on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
Mark Your Calendars:

Grassroots Funding Week
April 26th - April 30th, 2021
Grassroots Funding Week is your chance to be a grant-maker. PDF will use our online presence to highlight the work, stories and missions of organizations we support and ask for your help in raising money for these grassroots groups.

De Colores Grantee Town Hall
May 12th, 2021 from 3:00 - 4:30 PM (ET)
Join us on May 12th for an interactive dialogue with recent De Colores Rapid Response Fund grant partners and learn how organizers are adapting to the COVID-19 crisis. RSVP HERE.
Thank you for your support.