Beckner Advancement Fund
The Beckner Advancement Fund is a social justice philanthropic initiative of All Souls Church Unitarian, a Washington DC church with a long history of working for social justice and fighting against oppression of all kinds. The Fund’s work is grounded in the Unitarian Universalist spiritual beliefs in the inherent worth and dignity of all people and our commitment to dismantling racism and other forms of oppression in individuals and institutions. For two centuries, the All Souls congregation has worked to make our city, our nation, and our world more just and compassionate.
All Souls members Earl and Meta Beckner endowed the Beckner Advancement Fund in 1973 to create a more collaborative, attractive, and forward-looking community that fosters human rights and dignity, and enhances the influence of All Souls Church in the Washington metropolitan area. We carry out this vision through internal and external grants of about $70,000 each year to support efforts that advance All Souls’ social justice mission.
The Beckner Advancement has three primary funding mechanisms: External Grants, Internal Grants, and Shively Rapid Cycle Grants. Click on each for application materials and detailed eligibility information.
The following values guide our grantmaking and other work.
Centering community: We work with organizations that are deeply rooted in their communities. We aim to support the leadership and experiences of impacted communities as a means to achieve systemic change. We believe that the best solutions to enduring social problems come from the people who experience them. Community power-building and shared decision-making are at the root of sustainable and truly transformative change.
Pursuing justice: We understand that structural racism and oppression contribute to poorer outcomes for people of color, women, low-income communities, LGBTQ communities, certain faith communities, and people with disabilities. We aim to invest in systemic solutions that create equitable opportunities for these communities to thrive.
Catalyzing initiatives: We recognize that we bring relatively modest means to address significant societal challenges. We use our limited resources to seed new initiatives and accelerate the expansion of existing projects that employ fresh approaches to social justice work. This can mean supporting startup organizations, new leaders and leadership structures, untested ideas, and new approaches to old problems.
Continually learning: We approach our mission with an honest spirit of inquiry and a vocation for learning alongside the communities we partner with. We see each of our investments as an opportunity to expand our learning and help inform the field. We encourage feedback from our partners.
Approaching challenges with hope: While the problems we address are serious and challenging, we approach our work with excitement and a hope that our engagement will make a positive impact. Celebrating hard won victories both large and small rejuvenates us for the continued struggles for justice to come.
We envision a Washington, DC where all residents have the opportunities and resources they need to live with dignity and share in the prosperity and vibrancy of our Nation’s Capital.
To distribute flexible funding to accelerate community-driven social change in Washington, DC.
The Beckner Advancement Fund catalyzes community-driven change that dismantles systemic oppression and facilitates economic opportunity, justice, and liberation in Washington, D.C. We strive to unify the community of All Souls Church Unitarian in Washington, D.C. by being equitable, radically welcoming, and in right relationship with those on the margins of society. We strive to make our grantmaking transparent, intentional, and accountable to the communities we support.
We invest in promising yet under-resourced organizations that are implementing new and innovative solutions to entrenched social problems. We support the leadership of those most impacted by overlapping forms of oppression, including but not limited to: people of color; indigenous peoples; immigrants; low-income people; women; youth; queer, trans, and gender non-conforming people; and people with disabilities. We strive to be a bold, courageous and strategic partner that helps grassroots organizations take chances, test new ideas, and amplify their impact. We take risks in the hopes of achieving transformative impact. Not all of our investments will succeed, and even those that do may take time to realize impact, but each investment provides an opportunity for growth and learning.
Pam Amos is a finance and investment professional with over 25 years of experience. A descendant of native Washingtonians dating back to colonial days, she calls both Chicago and Washington home, and has been a member of All Souls since 2017. Her passion for social justice and philanthropy has found expression in many ways at All Souls, including service in finance, affordable housing and other initiatives.
Pam is a Senior Loan Officer with Capital Impact Partners / Momentus Capital, a national Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) where she originates and underwrites commercial real estate and business loans in impact investment sectors including small business, housing, healthcare, education, healthy food, aging and cooperatives. Previously, she held roles in affordable housing finance and asset management.
She served as Director of Asset Management for a premier affordable housing developer, where she was responsible for the financial performance and operations of over 30 properties with over 5,000 apartment homes throughout the mid-Atlantic region, most notably in Southeast Washington, D.C..
Previously, Pam spent 12 years in the investment management division of Allstate Insurance Co. ending her tenure as a Portfolio Manager responsible for daily investment decisions and the performance of its publicly traded REIT portfolio, as well as a large portfolio of private economically targeted debt and equity investments. She has extensive investment and advisory board experience with CDFIs and large institutional commingled real estate and private equity funds. Her experience also includes analytical support for the operation and disposition of a large office and industrial directly owned property portfolio.
A military veteran, Pam started her career in service as a civil engineering officer in the U.S. Air Force. In this capacity she held various roles in design, construction management, environmental remediation and military logistics, Command and Control.
She has an MBA in Finance and Real Estate from the University of Michigan, a BS in Civil Engineering from the University of Notre Dame, and has earned the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and Leadership in Energy and the Environment (LEED) Green Associate designations. She is a Leadership Greater Chicago fellow.
Her civic involvement has also included extensive board work and volunteer service to various mission-driven organizations, with particular emphasis on child welfare and early childhood education, including financial literacy. She is proud to be a long-time volunteer tutor for Chicago and Washington, D.C. public school students.
Pam considers her most important accomplishments to be her roles as mother of one wonderful grown son, aunt and godmother of many, and long-term mentor to several promising young adults.
Dr. Sharon Groves joined the Auburn Seminary staff in August 2015 as Vice-President for Partner Engagement. In this role she regularly engages with hundreds of movement and faith leaders, organizers, policy makers, and philanthropists who work at the intersection of faith and justice. Sharon leads projects at Auburn that address community thriving; national and state level collaborations on inclusive democracy; reproductive health, rights and justice; reparations; and LGBTQ equity. She serves as a key liaison with major policy and movement partners, including the Women’s March, the Center for American Progress, and national faith denominations, as well as regional and local congregations.
Prior to joining Auburn’s staff, Sharon was a Senior Fellow for Auburn Seminary. She is the former Director of the Religion and Faith (RFP) Program at the Human Rights Campaign, where she worked from 2005-2014. Under her leadership, Sharon doubled the RFP staff, built a scholarship and mentorship program for LGBTQ religious scholars, and oversaw statewide faith organizing efforts in Oregon, Illinois, Rhode Island, Maine, Maryland, and Washington State. She also supported the creation of multiple theologically grounded resources, including the lectionary-based preaching guide, Out in Scripture, and the Latinx curriculum and film, A La Familia.
Sharon received her Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Maryland in 2000 and has furthered her theological education through extensive coursework at Chicago Theological Seminary, Wesley Theological Seminary, and the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation. She is an active lay member at All Souls, where she serves on the board for the Beckner Foundation, a city-based foundation that supports justice work in DC, in keeping with the values of All Souls church. She is also a board member for the Church of the Savior Festival Center in DC. An active and longtime resident of Washington, DC, Sharon connects and mobilizes with many different organizations, including Standing Up for Racial Justice and Ward 4 Mutual Aid. She lives in DC’s 4th Ward with her spouse Ann and can often be found cooking for friends, gardening in her community lot, jogging in Rock Creek park, and watching “bad” TV. Sharon is a long-time member of All Souls since 2001.
Educated at Villanova University, The New School for Social Research, and Columbia University’s Graduate School of International Affairs. Student of Zbigniev Brzezinski and Henry Kissinger. Trained as a Development Economist. Certificates from the Institute of African Studies, and International Fellows Program. United Nations Association Ralph Bunche Fellow (supported thesis research and writing in the East African Federation). Currently, a civil society delegate to the UN Non-proliferation Treaty Talks and the UN Office of Disarmament Affairs.
Dedication to the Arts, Culture and the Humanities which undergirds his world view. Activist and advocate for artists to understand their power and prowess as participants in the American Political Economy, and to take their rightful place in governance. Adjunct teacher in the DC Public School System, assigned to the History Department, Duke Ellington School of the Arts.
Practitioner in Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access, with leadership accountabilities in the real estate, philanthropic, and education industries.
Before retiring in 2017, Barbara had a long career in international development, including 13 years living in Latin America where she gained extensive experience in the development, review, and management of grants from public and private sources. She worked for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) for 28 years, including serving as CRS’ Director of Major Gifts Stewardship, where she led a team responsible for donor communications, proposal development, stewardship, and special events to engage major donors. During that period, she was also responsible for coordinating activities of the agency’s Foundation Board, composed of donors at the highest giving levels.
In 2014, Barbara joined the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) as Chief Development Officer where she was responsible for the design and implementation of comprehensive fundraising and communications strategies in accordance with local community needs and LAYC’s strategic priorities. Her role included oversight of LAYC’s grants, communications, and special events staff.
After 10 years as a member of the UU congregation in Columbia, MD, Barbara moved to the Washington DC area in 2011 and joined All Souls. She has three children and six grandchildren and currently lives in Garrett Park, MD, where she and her partner share a home with two exuberant Labrador retriever rescues.
Eva Newbold grew up in Richmond Hill, Georgia, a small town outside Savannah. She received her B.A. in English Literature and Women’s Studies from Agnes Scott College in 2016 and she received her M.A. in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from the University of Florida in 2018.
After graduate school, Eva returned to the Savannah area where she joined Lisa Ring’s 2018 congressional campaign as the Scheduling Coordinator and Lisa Ring’s 2020 campaign as the Communications Director. In 2020, Eva joined Marcus Thompson’s Georgia State House campaign as the Volunteer Coordinator and worked with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee as a Team Lead for the 2021 Senate Runoff. In addition to her work with local politics, she worked as the Interim Director of Religious Education at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Savannah from 2018-2020.
Eva’s community work in the area also included acting as the 2nd Vice Chair and Social Media Coordinator for the Bryan County Democratic Committee, the Religious Affairs Chair for the Bryan County NAACP, and acting as a member of the Richmond Hill Cultural and Diversity Taskforce. In early 2021, Eva moved to Washington, D.C. to serve a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Raising A Village Foundation. Once in D.C., she became involved with the work of All Souls Unitarian and joined the Young Souls board as the Social Justice Chair. In January 2022, she ended her year of AmeriCorps service and decided to remain at Raising A Village Foundation, where she is now Manager of Community Outreach.
Dariely Rodriguez is a deputy chief counsel for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights under Law where she works closely with the President and Executive Director, the Chief Counsel, managers and staff to provide strategic guidance for litigation and advocacy projects that advance racial justice. Dariely serves on the organization’s Senior Leadership team and plays a key role in supporting synergy and integration across the organization’s practice areas, and overseeing the professional development of the organization’s legal staff.
Dariely most recently served as a political appointee Chief of Staff in the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs at the U.S. Department of Labor under the Biden Administration. She previously spent four years at the Lawyers’ Committee as the Director of the organization’s Economic Justice Project, which focuses on combatting discrimination in employment, healthcare, and economic opportunities on behalf of communities of color. In this capacity, she served as plaintiff-side counsel in various impact litigation matters. Dariely has co-authored or otherwise significantly contributed to amicus briefs before the Supreme Court and other federal courts. Earlier in her career, Rodriguez served as an Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Bureau in the Office of the Attorney General of New York and worked in private practice focusing on labor and employment issues.
Dariely received her J.D. from Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University where she was the recipient of the Dwight L. Greene full tuition scholarship. She received her B.A. from New York University.
Jennifer Smith has worked on a variety of social justice issues, including Third World debt, racism, environmental justice, and youth empowerment. After finishing a Masters in International Development, she received on-the-ground training with the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement, where she worked with their policy group. For 5 years she continued to do policy and advocacy work on equitable and sustainable development with NGOs in DC, often in partnership with Philippine NGOs.
A Master’s in Conflict Analysis and Resolution took Jen down a new path – working on injustice, especially racism, in the U.S. She worked on multiyear projects with 5 schools, 2 churches, and the National Park Service enabling adults and youth to build more diverse, inclusive, and multicultural organizations. This 15-year period culminated with Jen founding and directing the Interfaith Youth for Climate Justice – a yearlong program that gave teens of various faiths the inspiration, knowledge, and skills to become activists for climate justice.
In 2013, a chronic illness gave Jen the opportunity to slow down and she began to study Buddhism and mindfulness. She recently completed the Mindful Schools Teacher Certification program and has been teaching mindfulness to youth.
For 26 years Jen has served as a trustee of the Cedar Tree Foundation, which provides grants in the fields of environmental health and sustainable agriculture with a strong focus on environmental justice and BIPOC-led organizations. She recently co-designed their Rooted in Justice program, which supports youth development through urban greening.
Jen has been a member of All Souls Church for over 25 years. She raised her two daughters (now 25 and 27) in the church and has served on several committees. She co-designed and co-facilitated 3 different anti-racism classes for White people at ASC over 16 years, most recently with Reverend Rob Keithan.
Vanessa Williamson was born in New York City and grew up in Sacramento, California. She enjoys crafts, cooking, boxing and playing the banjo, though not simultaneously. She is the mother of two boys, Storry and Daniel, and the wife of Bradford Johnson. They have been members of All Souls since 2015. In her work life, she is a Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at Brookings, and a Senior Fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. She studies taxation, redistribution, and political participation. She has written two books, Read My Lips: Why Americans Are Proud to Pay Taxes and, with Theda Skocpol, The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism. Her forthcoming book is a history of taxation and democracy in America. She has a PhD in Social Policy from Harvard University.
Georgia is Mom to two wonderful 30 somethings, an attorney, an executive coach, geologist, pianist, harpsichordist, flautist, quilter, sewist, knitter, and curious about life in general. Georgia has been a member of All Souls since 2010 when she joined with her husband Larry Meinert.
After serving as general counsel to two institutions of higher education, Georgia moved to DC in 2010 as a political appointee serving as Deputy General Counsel and Deputy Undersecretary at the US Department of Education. She is currently serving on the Board of Trustees of Oberlin College and Conservatory.
Georgia earned her bachelor’s degree in geology from Oberlin College and a master’s in applied earth science from Stanford University. Her law degree is from the University of Idaho. She also holds a leadership coaching certificate from the Georgetown University Institute for Transformational Leadership.
Ruth Goins joined the Beckner Advancement Fund as program officer at the end of 2020. She is a native Washingtonian with several decades of experience in the field of philanthropy. She has served as a program officer at private foundations and as a professional consultant to a range of organizations and initiatives in the field. In addition, she has served as interim executive director for three small national associations.
Ruth has also contributed to efforts to grow diversity and inclusiveness in philanthropy. She was a member of the Diversity in Philanthropy Project consulting team (which led to D5, a five-year initiative by the philanthropic community to address diversity, equity and inclusion in a coordinated way). And she led a small team that conducted research for the Council on Foundations, helping to set the stage for the Council’s Career Pathways leadership program for individuals of diverse backgrounds.
Ruth has a history of leadership within the national philanthropic field. She is a past chair of the Neighborhood Funders Group, the network of funders who invest in organizations that wield people-power to transform communities. She also served on the board of Women & Philanthropy, during which time she held several leadership positions. When she returned to DC she joined the board of the Washington Area Women’s Foundation. Her six-year tenure included service as board chair.
A graduate of Wellesley College, Ruth earned a master’s degree in public management and policy analysis from Carnegie-Mellon University.
If you have further questions, contact Ruth Goins, Beckner Advancement Fund Program Officer, at email@example.com.
Please click on the fiscal years listed below to see the lists of current and past year awarded grants: