An Update on the Rapid Response Fund

An Update on the Rapid Response Fund

In late January 2018, The San Francisco Foundation convened a group of local nonprofits that received grants from our Rapid Response Fund (RRF). This event was organized with The California Endowment and Bay Rising and provided a forum for community leaders to reflect on the Fund’s significant impact. Since the fund began in November 2016, we have granted nearly $800,000 to over 60 grassroots Bay Area organizations doing critical work around immigration, racial equity, LGBTQ rights, and much more. The fund quickly deploys resources into the community to serve urgent needs, leveraging both donor contributions and TSFF’s funds. The grantee convening was an opportunity for nonprofit leaders to share the meaningful and essential projects that came out of the Rapid Response Fund grants. The impact touched a wide range of diverse communities spanning age, race, citizenship status, and location.

Spearitwurx Foundation is an organization committed to giving parents of color critical strategies and practical knowledge to build strong and resilient families. They received a Rapid Response Fund grant to host the Powerful Parent Conference, which engages families of color in community safety techniques, personal mindfulness, and education advocacy to ensure they have a powerful voice in the education of their children. Given the current administration, the stress on families of color has only made this conference more urgent and necessary.

API Equality-Northern California is a small grassroots organization that was funded by the RRF. They used the grant to advance the rights of transgender people in the Bay Area – some of our most vulnerable residents.  With the help of this grant, API Equality is supporting the needs of these individuals to be safe and connected to resources. API Equality works to organize and increase the visibility of LGBTQ Asian Pacific Islanders and train youth to become leaders in their communities. Director Sammie Ablaza Wills was present at the convening to share learnings, challenges, and connect with other leaders. Sammie expressed the importance of building strong intergenerational ties between Asian Pacific Islander youth and elders, to preserve history and build for the future.

Photo by Erin Reynolds.

East Bay Center for the Blind received an RRF grant to host multiple self-advocacy workshops for low-income, visually impaired and blind people of color in the Bay Area. The workshops provided crucial information around civil rights, transportation, employment and disability insurance for the blind community. This funding was urgently needed as a direct response to threats from the Trump Administration to cutback on support for blind people of color. Daveed Mandell, a leader at East Bay Center for the Blind, shared that the Rapid Response Fund grant was critical in disseminating this information to a highly under resourced community that doesn’t typically draw an extensive amount of funding.

An energizing activity during the Rapid Response Fund convening. Photo by Erin Reynolds.

Overall, leaders shared that one of the most powerful learning moments that came out of the Rapid Response Fund work was the impact that community organizing can have. The sentiment echoed throughout the day was that the collaboration between youth leaders and elders is extremely critical and there is a desire to continue building bridges between communities across religion and race. As one leader remarked “many hands make light work,” when it comes to building a better Bay Area together for the present and future.

To give to the Rapid Response Fund, visit our give page, or designate a grant through your donor advised fund.

By JC De Vera, former staff member.