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 almost 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.
Steve brings 42 years of experience in international development, community philanthropy, human rights, environmental management, and higher education to his current roles as volunteer with public interest organizations in his community and as an active participant in selected political campaigns. Prior to his retirement in 2018, he served for seven years as Vice President for Programs and Managing Director for Networks and Strategic Initiatives at the Inter-American Foundation. Steve has also held senior executive positions with the Ford Foundation, the World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, the World Resources Institute, INCAE, and the Fundación Acceso, a non-profit organization that he founded in Costa Rica. He began his career working with Agua del Pueblo, a Guatemalan NGO building potable water systems for indigenous communities. He has been a consultant to the World Bank, the United Nations, the Global Environment Facility, CARE, the Oscar Arias Foundation, the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights, and the Pew Charitable Trusts; has been a guest lecturer at the World Bank, Columbia University, Duke University, the University of California at San Diego, the University of Maryland, the University of Minnesota, Notre Dame University, the Universidad de Cuenca (Ecuador), and FLACSO/Ecuador; has been a Kettering Foundation Fellow and a member of the Advisory Council of the Kellogg Institute for International Studies at Notre Dame. He has served on several non-profit boards and is currently on the board of AsylumWorks in Washington, DC, and the advisory board of the Kaleidos Center for Interdisciplinary Ethnography in Ecuador. Since retiring, he has been an active volunteer with immigrant rights organizations in Washington, DC, and in elections in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia. He has spent half of his career in residence in Latin America (Mexico, Costa Rica, Brazil, Peru, and Guatemala), and is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese. He has a BA in Latin American Economic Development from Berkeley and a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard. He is the proud father of two adult daughters who are deeply involved in public service.
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.
Pamela Amos is a real estate investment professional with over 25 years of related experience. She has been a member of All Souls since 2017, and her passion for social justice has found expression here as a member of the Investment Committee and director of All Souls Housing Corporation.
Currently, Pam is with NuvoLogic Consulting and works on a contract supporting HUD’s multifamily lending program for both affordable and market rate properties. Previously, she served as Director of Asset Management for a premier affordable housing developer and operator, where she was responsible for the financial performance and operations of its portfolio of 30+ properties containing over 5,000 apartment homes throughout the mid-Atlantic region.
Pam’s experience also includes consulting work with other clients in the real estate investment and energy sectors. She spent 12 years in the investment management division of Allstate Insurance Co. ending her tenure as a Portfolio Manager responsible for daily management of its publicly traded REIT portfolio, as well as a large portfolio of economically targeted debt and equity investments in areas including community development and affordable housing. Her experience also included analytical support for a large office and industrial portfolio, and private equity investing in real estate and traditional institutional private equity funds.
Pamela’s story also includes positions in finance and real estate with Amoco Chemical Company and PepsiCo. A veteran, she served as a civil engineering officer in the U.S. Air Force. She is also a mother, aunt, mentor and long-time tutor to children in the Chicago and Washington DC public school systems.
Ms. Amos 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 LEED Green Associate designations. She is a Leadership Greater Chicago fellow, and her civic involvement also includes extensive board and other service to various mission-driven organizations, with particular emphasis on child welfare and early childhood education.
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, accepting a position as a Regional Site Coordinator.
Josephine, now retired, was Executive Director of the National Association of Social Workers, a 155,000 member association. Prior to that she was a presidential appointee with the U.S. Department of Labor. As such, she administered and oversaw the Office of Job Partnership Act programs including Job Corps and Summer Youth Employment programs. She has more than 30 years of professional and volunteer experience in social action, public and private sector program development, policy formulation and institution building. Dr. Nieves was commissioner and spokesperson to the New York City Department of Employment and in the early 1980s was Deputy Commissioner of the New York City Department of Juvenile Justice. She was also a professor and chairperson of the department of Puerto Rican Studies at Brooklyn College, In New York City.
Josephine has been a member of All Souls since 2001.
Erika was born in Brooklyn, NY where she and her sister were raised by her mom, a social worker and proud West Indian who immigrated from Barbados. Erika grew up attending the Fenimore St. United Methodist Church. She gained confidence and discipline as a student of the Canarsie Karate Club and baseball player in the North Highway LIttle League. As an A Better Chance (ABC) scholar she attended Milton Academy for high school and then earned a bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College. Her career has spanned the interconnections of youth development, outdoor education, construction, job training and environmental justice. Working most of her career non-profits, Erika has had a lot of exposure to the process of seeking out funding and managing grants. Erika brings that perspective to her work with the Beckner Advancement Fund committee. Erika moved to Washington, DC In October of 2014 with her wife, daughter, and grandmother. She and her wife became members of All Souls in 2015. In her work-life, Erika is the VP of Equity and Workforce Development with a national solar trade association.
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.
A worker self-directed nonprofit that provides sliding-scale support for worker-owned cooperatives, collective projects, business owners, and freelancers in the Washington, DC metro region. General Operating Support.
BLM-DC is a member-based abolitionist organization centering Black people most at risk for state violence in DC, creating the conditions for Black Liberation through the abolition of systems and institutions of white supremacy, capitalism, patriarchy, and colonialism. Project support to emphasize political education in the Black community to deepen understanding about the GRU and its tactics, and highlight how families and neighborhoods are being harmed.
FBC creates the space for advocacy groups, direct service organizations and members of the community to come together to advocate for budget and policy initiatives that address systemic social, racial, and economic inequality in the District. General Operating Support.
Food Justice DMV is a volunteer colectiva delivering food & standing in solidarity with thousands of immigrant neighbors. They do 3 weekly food distributions and provide real-time info about other food, rent supports, pro-bono legal info, vaccinations, easy ways to save the planet, exercise tips, recipes and more. General Operating Support.
A Black-led abolitionist community defense hub centering all Black lives at risk for state-sanctioned violence in the Greater Washington area. Project support for their the Ida B. Free Court Watch and Participatory Defense initiative.
MLOV is a resource for immigrants in the District who do not speak English as a first language. The organization helps immigrants attain tools and develop leadership skills that enable greater civic involvement on issues affecting their lives. General Operating Support.
NJNP exists to fight for trans justice and to end the LGBT “equality” movement’s complicity with systems of oppression that further marginalize Trans and Queer individuals. A major element of their work is leasing housing where trans women of color without their own homes can live safely. General Operating Support.
Rising Organizers grows grassroots movements by training new and emerging leaders to build power in their communities, developing community among organizers, and fostering long-term commitment to organizing and political skills. Project support for a DC Grassroots Organizing Fair.
TSSC provides free culturally specific, holistic, and trauma-based services to Black women survivors of domestic violence and/or sexual assault primarily living in Washington, DC’s Wards 7 and 8. General Operating Support.
A Black trans, queer, and non-binary-led organization dedicated to building community safety.
CGCF demonstrates intensive, small-scale sustainable urban agriculture practices and provides adult and youth education
Rebuilding urban, community-based food systems through cooperative social enterprise
Invests in the leadership and organized political power of DC’s lowest income residents and communities.
Unites constituents and organizations to prioritize racial equity in the District budget.
Supports vulnerable young women to have healthy babies and establish independent lives.
Building a world where radical inclusion leads to collective liberation for Muslim communities and beyond.
Fosters the leadership and civic participation of immigrants who do not speak English as their primary language.
We exercise political strength to create and preserve racial and economic equity in Shaw and the District.
A unique collaborative of four nonprofits in Adams Morgan that connect families to services and to each other.
Builds leadership and engages civic action to address the needs of immigrant, migrant, and low-income workers.
The Justice for Muslims Collective ($10,000) combats institutional and structural Islamophobia in the DC area. Led by Muslim women of color, its grassroots organizing focuses on creating mechanisms of community defense for Muslims and building community resilience. Beckner will support their healing and wellness programs, leadership development and training programs focused on Muslim women, and alliance/coalition-building work across movements.
The Fair Budget Coalition ($10,000) brings together advocacy organizations, service providers, and community members to advocate for budget and public policy initiatives that address systemic social, racial, and economic inequality in DC. Beckner will support FBC’s Constituent Leadership Program, which gives low and moderate-income DC residents a greater understanding of the budget process, hones their leadership skills, and provides decision-making authority within FBC’s structure to the people most impacted by policy change.
Black Lives Matter DC ($10,000) advocates for non-police solutions to intra-community violence and ending police brutality by confronting and dismantling institutions and systems of state-sanctioned violence and oppression that displace and criminalize Black people through political education, community power, and direct action in Southeast DC. Beckner will support the development of a Liberation Zone that invests in safety beyond policing such as community control, community defense and divestment from militarization, and other programs that oppress Black people.
Dreaming Out Loud ($10,000) creates economic opportunities for the region’s marginalized community members by building a healthy, equitable food system. Beckner funding will support the Farm and Food Hub at Kelly Miller Middle School in DC’s Ward 7 and create a vertically integrated pipeline to jobs and economic opportunity for communities of color through food hub distribution, entrepreneurship and cooperative development, workforce development, and advocacy and public policy.
Platform of Hope ($10,000), a collaboration between Capital Area Asset Builders, Jubilee Housing, Jubilee Jumpstart, For Love of Children, Mary’s Center and Sitar Arts Center, addresses the gentrification of resource-rich communities; redresses structural and racial barriers that prevent low-income adults from building wealth and well-being; and connects the varied health and learning needs of children from low-income families from prenatal to early-childhood and through to college graduation. Beckner will support their work across the housing, health, education, arts, asset building, and youth development sectors.
The Healthy Babies Project ($10,000) helps DC’s poorest families have healthy babies, raise strong families, and move into independent lives. Beckner funds will support the Feeding Our Girls program, which provides nutrition for malnourished, hungry, pregnant, and/or parenting DC youth of color. The program addresses food security for two generations of vulnerable DC children – the teen parent and child – to ensure maternal and child health.
Kindred ($10,000) cultivates relationships between parents of diverse economic and racial backgrounds in gentrifying elementary schools and builds their capacity to take action within their schools to address the root causes of the opportunity gap. Beckner funding will support a parent dialogue-to-action program at Bancroft Elementary, which will build a diverse coalition of parent activists to advance equity and meaningfully change outcomes in their school so that all students thrive. Beckner will also support the pilot of a parent facilitator apprenticeship program to extend the dialogue work into new communities.
The Trans Women of Color Collective ($10,000) uplifts the narratives, lived experiences, and leadership of trans and gender non-conforming people of color, while building towards the collective liberation of all oppressed people. Beckner funding will support TWOCC’s Black Trans Health Initiative, Safe House in Ward 1, daily cooked meals for community members, transportation to community meetings and events, stipends to fund the work of TWOCC’s organizers, meeting space, and information technology to support their leadership team of trans women of color.
Collective Action for Safe Spaces ($9,100) uses comprehensive, intersectional, community-based solutions to eliminate public gendered harassment and assault in the DC area. Beckner funds will be used to develop an Organizing Institute centered on the experiences of Queer and Trans Women of Color who are current or former sex workers and participants in their Safe Bar Collective jobs program. The program supports queer and Trans sex workers of color in advocating for their needs and the needs of people most impacted by harassment and assault in public spaces.
Bread for the City ($8,500) helps low-income, Black and Brown DC residents develop the power to determine the future of their own communities. They provide food, clothing, medical care, and legal and social services to reduce the burden of poverty. Beckner funding will support Bread for the City’s Terrence Moore Organizing Institute, a free 8-week training program led by two women of color, which equips client leaders with the tools to organize in their communities, including deep political education.
Empower DC ($5,000) enhances and promotes the self-advocacy of low and moderate income DC residents and builds their collective power to bring about sustained improvements in quality of life. Beckner funding will support Empower DC’s citywide Public Housing Campaign, which builds the organized political power of DC’s public housing residents, supporting their strategic engagement in the systems of decision making in order to secure budget and policy change to improve conditions, secure the future of public housing, and prevent the displacement of public housing residents.
The Reeb Project/Revolutionary Love Conference ($8,500). The Revolutionary Love 2020, a major gathering of religious progressive activists co-designed by Middle Collegiate Church, the Reeb Voting Rights Project, All Souls’ Social Justice Ministry, and staff from the Unitarian Universalist Association, will connect Unitarian Universalists with one another and the larger progressive religious community and equip them to act on critical social justice issues such as democracy and voting rights.
The All Souls’ Music Ministry ($5,500). The Beckner Advancement Fund will support the hiring of a camp coordinator for the inaugural All Souls UU Arts Summer Camp, which will provide meaningful opportunities for children and youth to engage in important social justice issues such as climate justice, environmental health, and activism. Youth participants will be exposed to diverse teachers with a variety of creative backgrounds including playwriting, freestyling, and composition, as well as local community partners such as Bloombars, Building Bridges Across the River, and Common Good City Farm.
Green Souls ($1,800). The Beckner Advancement Fund supported Feast for Food Justice, a low-waste, plant-based, locally sourced lunch that featured produce grown in the DC region with a particular emphasis on sourcing from farmers of color and urban farms who operate in Wards 7 and 8.