The Community Infrastructure Fund is a learning project which supports organizations to develop mutual aid infrastructure.
Omidyar Network, JustFund, Amalgamated Foundation, and Art in Praxis announce their investments in mutual aid projects
As the pandemic increased the needs of communities, Omidyar Network created the fund to support organizations developing mutual aid infrastructure. We define “mutual aid infrastructure” as the resources and tools supporting systems in which people and communities voluntarily care for one another for their mutual benefit. The fund is an experimental program and aims to mirror mutual aid values and support the individuals leading the work.
Every organization selected for funding submitted a project proposal via JustFund— a digital platform connecting social justice funders, foundations, and funds with grassroots organizations and urgent projects. The projects were selected by an Advisory Council consisting of six mutual aid practitioners, activists, and leaders of color with deep experience working with communities threatened by the current political and social climate. Art in Praxis consultants Jess Solomon and Richael Faithful have facilitated the fund’s many stakeholders and activities.
Virtually all the submissions demonstrated a strong commitment to place-based intersectional justice through their strategies for community-directed resources and support.
There are a range of strategies being employed, such as:
Barrios Unidos (BU) is located in Chimayo, New Mexico and exists to support individuals struggling with addiction, their families who are shattered by addiction, and to re-engage community through the spirit of querencia. Resources will be used to create the infrastructure for rebuilding a local system of community care through herbal remedios.
The Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Collective was founded in July 2020 to create a response to admissions of sexual racism and disparate wages by leaders within the Adult Film Industry. The funding will be used for staffing and administrative /tech support.
Community Movement Builders (based in Atlanta, GA) provides consistent stabilization funds and other resources, organizes against police brutality, and cultivates economic opportunities through establishing our farmer’s market and food co-ops. Funding would enable CMB to increase the current part-time Food Cooperative Director to a full-time salary, to hire a part-time Volunteer/Organizer Coordinator, and to develop 5 sister city chapters.
DC Mutual Aid Apothecary (DCMA) is a community-based project whose mission is to connect our community to accessible herbal medicine and education. Funding will help us meet this demand and continue building out our mutual aid work in order to become a self-sustaining cooperative business.
The East Harlem El Barrio Community Land Trust (EHEBCLT) works to develop and preserve community-controlled, truly and permanently affordable housing, commercial, green, and cultural spaces in East Harlem/El Barrio that prioritize households of extremely low to low incomes. EHEBCLT formed in 2014 as a pilot project of the NYC Community Land Initiative (NYCCLI), with organizing support from Picture the Homeless members. Funding will support the next phase of our resident engagement and organizing work, which EHEBCLT is facilitating with our Mutual Housing Association partners, and to strengthen our organizational communications infrastructure.
The ECO Foundation is a black-led nonprofit located in West Philadelphia working to provide creative education, healthy food, and employment opportunities. Grant funds will support our important mutual aid efforts to continue to deliver groceries year-round and allow us to adequately run our Young BUL program.
Equity Initiative Equality Labs is a critical conduit for information, services, and rapid response for South Asian and broader racial justice communities. With a grant from the Omidyar Network, we will increase direct services to our base and update our mutual aid resource kit, grow our COVID-19 public health guide and create more culturally sensitive materials; and bring on a new digital security contractor.
Oakland Bloom (OB) is a diaspora-led non-profit working at the intersection of immigration, food, gender and economic justice with strong roots in immigrant communities. Funding for this initiative will go toward outreach efforts (labor, event space, commercial kitchen, materials and catering) for public education and recruitment of community and traditional investors to join the cooperative and starting up the cooperative.
(CT) Havenly is a non-profit food business dedicated to building the community power of refugee and immigrant women through job training, education, and organizing. We are requesting funding to build our organizing and leadership development programming infrastructure and methods.
Imagine Water Works a place-informed, BIPOC and trans-led organization that has focused on disaster preparedness and response, climate justice, water management, and community organizing in New Orleans for nearly a decade. Funds will be used to build the sustain the Mutual Aid Response Network and safety measures (including tech and software).
The Hope Project provides mutual aid to public housing developments and senior buildings on the South Side of Chicago. Funds will be used to support the program and expanding it to different schools.
Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence (MPGV) has supported the Liberty Elementary School Grief Support Program (LESGSP) since 2017. Funds would be used to compensate practioners and expand to support more women and children.
We seek to illuminate the nuances of online violence targeted against journalists and provide digital safety, legal solutions and just-in-time support.
MONITORING AND REPORT SYSTEM: Develop a uniform reporting code for online harassment toward journalists of color so we can continue to monitor threats. Using social media monitoring and other artificial intelligence tools, we will provide just-in-time support to targets of online harassment.
DIGITAL FORENSICS AND LEGAL SUPPORT: Provide digital forensics and monitoring/evidence collection for targets to pursue legal options for identification and prosecution of bad actors.
TECHNOLOGICAL SOLUTIONS: Develop digital counter-narrative strategies that can diminish the severity and duration of online attacks. We will analyze and create response tools to deliver just-in-time education and support to targets of online abuse. We also will connect targets of online harassment to psychological, technological and legal resources that are localized to geographies.
Miami Workers Center (MWC) is located in south Florida. MWC will utilize the funding to shore up staffing to coordinate our growing mutual aid program which now responds to needs for rental relief, utilities, eviction and even psycho-social support for members in need.
Out in the Open runs a Rural QTBIPOC/LGBTQ+ Mutual Aid Fund. We would use funds to create roundtable discussions, produce a mutual aid toolkit, support staff, and refine our mutual aid work.Out in the Open runs a Rural QTBIPOC/LGBTQ+ Mutual Aid Fund. We would use funds to create roundtable discussions, produce a mutual aid toolkit, support staff, and refine our mutual aid work.
The Stop Oppressive Seizures Fund (SOS Fund) aims to disrupt and dismantle predatory systems that erode property rights and ownership within the Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) community, while decolonizing our understanding of property and wealth and encouraging a transition to a framework for collective land stewardship. It is is a coalition to provide comprehensive and holistic support to increase housing stability for Black and people of color, and to prevent displacement and erosion of wealth in these communities.
A language justice and indigenous Maya organizing initiative that began in 2016 with a small core of volunteers based in Guatemala and the US, which has grown into collective of over 200 indigenous promotores engaged in multinational base-building among Maya migrants throughout the North American migrant corridor, beginning with language-rights accompaniment with Maya migrants detained in US immigration detention centers. We are seeking up to funds to support several crucial elements of our mutual aid grassroots organizing efforts.
Proyecto Faro (PF) is building a sustained, immigrant-powered food distribution system in Rockland County, NY. Funds will support hiring full-time staff, transportation of food for distribution events, and expanding and equipping our office.
PT Partners (PTP), a Black and Latinx, resident-led, mutual aid initiative, mobilizes residents in PT Barnum Apartments, a low-income public housing (LIPH) development in Bridgeport, CT, to fight systemic challenges faced every day. Funding from Omidyar would be used to strengthen PTP’s operational staff, thereby, also fortifying Resident Leaders’ work as the backbone of the organization, and PTP’s expansion.
New England Direct Reparations and Resource Sharing (NEDRRS) is an online mutual aid platform that supports the distribution of funds to vulnerable populations in the New England area through grant funding, donations, and community-sourced reparations. We will use these funds for the purposes of technology build-out, operations, and community building, and cooperation.
REP is an attempt to interrupt the violence of policing, surveillance, and incarceration by eliminating a key point of entry into our lives: 911. Funds will be used to pay people, Some of this funding is for one time costs: working with our software developer to complete the creation of our dispatch technologies and then buying the devices; building out our work and storage space; building up our supplies and more.
SSCC responded to the pandemic conditions by launching an Emergency Food Distribution and Pantry, a Free Community Fridge as well as opening up our kitchen and cafe space as a Mutual Aid Kitchen. Funding will help to continue their Mutual Aid Kitchen Project until September 2022, with the ultimate goal of solidifying and sustaining these programs long-term beyond the funding period.
The Support Ho(s)e collective consists of a small group of sex workers and trusted accomplices that seek to build radical community and fight whorephobia in Chicago. This mutual aid grant would radically transform our relationship to immediate needs, our mutual care efforts and expanding our political education.
West Ridge is Chicago’s most diverse neighborhood, home to many refugee resettlement agencies and the only neighborhood in Chicago that is gaining Black residents. Out of Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods, West Ridge has the third largest population of children under 5 while also having more nursing homes per capita than any other zip code in Illinois. West Ridge is a neighborhood of families and our mutual aid efforts have focused on helping families thrive thru building community to support every need. Funding will go towards building a network of teens to ideate, organize and participate in additional mutual aid efforts.
Each organization selected is demonstrating a strong commitment to the community they serve. They are also interested in their mutual aid projects becoming more sustainable, scalable, and secure. Omidyar Network has six values to drive the fund, the grantmaking design process, and grantee selection:
Omidyar Network also hopes that this funding model inspires other funders to invest in more sustainable and trust-driven approaches. In that spirit, any organization that completed the Community Infrastructure Fund for Mutual Aid application can submit the same proposal to other funding opportunities on the JustFund platform. We urge our philanthropic partners to join us in supporting the incredible efforts of people on the frontlines of change.
Focused on US organizations led by BIPOC and marginalized groups, the Community Infrastructure Fund will support the development of resources, tools, and people who uphold communities.
We are enduring a moment in which deep-rooted systemic crises are becoming more acute and visible than they have in decades, with widespread job loss, threats to housing security, and limited government support.
For communities historically impacted by inequitable systems and failed policies, this reality is not new. Addressing an acute need, these communities continue to provide for and support one another. As Black organizers have reminded us, “we keep each other safe.”
As the pandemic has rapidly increased the needs of communities, Omidyar Network has created a fund for US “mutual aid infrastructure” — the resources and tools supporting systems in which people and communities voluntarily care for one another for their mutual benefit. We are joined by Art in Praxis consultants Jess Solomon and Richael Faithful to steward the fund. Created as a way to learn through supporting and consulting with organizations on the frontlines, the fund is an experimental program into mutual aid. By distributing the funding in a participatory way, we aim to mirror mutual aid values and play a small part in contributing to a mutualist future that centers community and supports the individuals leading the work.
Criteria and Approach
The Community Infrastructure Fund for Mutual Aid is a $475,000 fund to invest in mutual aid infrastructure and catalyze mutualist systems.
How do we define “mutual aid infrastructure”? The organizing, knowledge sharing, and convening platforms used for mutual aid work; privacy, security, or other tools for organizers; legal services that protect mutual aid work; staffing, communities of practice and other human resources that allow mutual aid to sustain, scale, and grow. We are especially looking for efforts that bridge diverse communities.
This fund is community-informed, flexible, and rapid. Grant decisions will be made by an Advisory Committee consisting of diverse mutual aid activists and social justice leaders.
We aim to:
Support the most powerful work (as determined by the communities they aim to serve) and the people behind that work
Share knowledge on successful approaches and our learning
Support better coordination and cooperation across mutual aid circles and networks
Facilitate technology build-out that can better support and help sustain mutual aid activity
Irna is a writer and the Campaign Director with Daily Kos, the nation’s largest online progressive media and activism hub. She has worked on a variety of critical issues including healthcare, ending cash bail, and the 2020 census. She also leads the Daily Kos Liberation League which shares important stories focused on social justice.
Julia Solano is a designer, futurist, and bamboo architect passionate about imagining and actualizing diverse and equitable futures through participatory program design and facilitation, community architecture, and immersive storytelling.
Olivia Roanhorse is the Director Roanhorse Consulting, an indigenous women-led think tank. RCLLC works with unheralded communities, businesses, organizations, and individuals to achieve and aspire their self-determination through forging communities of practice, strengthening indigenous evaluation methods, creating equity through entrepreneurship, and encouraging economic empowerment from within. Olivia is currently pursuing her Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Olivia has a Master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Illinois in Chicago and an undergraduate degree from Colorado College. Olivia is Navajo and lives in Albuquerque, NM.
Paris Hatcher is the founder and director of Black Feminist Future, a movement incubator that focuses on the dynamic possibilities of galvanizing the social and political power of Black feminisms as a blueprint for liberation. Paris has been working with organizations to amplify the leadership of marginalized communities, win public policy campaigns, and advance reproductive and sexual health justice, gender justice, and queer liberation. She co-founded and was the Executive Director of SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW, one of the leading reproductive health and justice organizations in the Southeast.
Paula is a transnational movement strategist, harm reduction practitioner, poet, and multidisciplinary performance artist. Paula is the Sponsorship & Community Relations Facilitator with Freedom for Immigrants, an organization devoted to abolishing immigration detention while ending the isolation of people currently suffering in this profit-driven system. Paula is also a consultant with Reframe Health & Justice, a collective committed to developing and delivering holistic, harm reduction solutions to social injustices.
Yin Q is the co-director of Red Canary Song, a grassroots collective that advocates for sex work decriminalization & protective policies and provides resources to migrant massage parlor workers. Yin is a writer, BDSM practitioner, and the founder and Creative Director of Kink Out, which generates sex worker and kink positive art and education.
On June 28th, 2021, potential applicants dropped in to ask Jess Solomon (Fund Facilitator) and Aniyia Williams (Omidyar Network) questions about applying for a grant from the Community Infrastructure Fund for Mutual Aid.