The Beckner Fund awarded $10,000 each to four groups in 2022-2023:
Beloved Community Incubator (BCI) provides support for cooperatives and other ‘solidarity economy’ groups in the DC area that are led by poor and working-class people of color striving to create living-wage jobs. BCI’s support includes business and leadership development, governance and conflict resolution training and legal, bookkeeping and administrative services. BCI is currently working with cleaning and street-vendor cooperatives, among others. In addition to this work, BCI engages in mutual aid and organizes workers, advocating alongside them for policy change. In Spring 2023, through their support and organizing work with the street vendors cooperative, the District government decriminalized street vending and simplified licensure for vendors.
Food Justice DMV (FJDMV) was founded in 2020 as the first stay-at-home orders were issued at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. A group of volunteers, knowing economically vulnerable neighbors would be most impacted by job losses and/or be ineligible for government benefits, stood up a new food distribution operation. Led by an All Souls’ congregant, Food Justice primarily serves undocumented immigrant families — at this point 1,500 in DC and more than 8,000 across the region. What sets FJDMV apart from many other food distribution efforts is those in need of food don’t have to leave home – the food is delivered.
The Platform of Hope (PoH) is a collaborative strategy to address and disrupt the poverty experienced by many families in the Adams-Morgan neighborhood. The collaborating partners are anchor organizations in the neighborhood: Capital Area Asset Builders, Jubilee Housing, Jubilee JumpStart, For Love of Children, Mary’s Center and Sitar Arts Center. The model they developed supports cohorts of economically vulnerable families in creating both individual family success strategies; and a stronger social network of support amongst the families. Approximately one-fourth of the first 100 families have ‘graduated’ from the multi-year program.
This year, PoH is working with the new and continuing family cohorts, while also assessing how to remain a resource for families as they graduate from the original program.
The Potter’s House, a nonprofit social enterprise, has been in the Adams-Morgan neighborhood for more than 60 years. It is both a cafe and progressive bookstore, and rents out event space. Its mission – beyond creating community – is being a place of dignity for those who may need a safe place to spend some time and/or have a no-cost meal. Those who have the ability to pay can “Pay It Forward”, so that others can eat or get a hot cup of coffee. Striving to go beyond serving free meals, Potter’s House has invited staff from other community organizations – Miriam’s Kitchen and Latin American Youth Center – to spend time on their patio connecting with guests who might need to establish relationships with additional community resources.
The Beckner Fund also awarded grants to the following ministry groups within All Souls as part of its Internal Grants Program:
ASC Arts and Music Program ($5,000)
The Beckner Fund’s grant supported a residency program that helped the Jubilee Singers’ leadership transition from long-time director Lenard Starks as he closed out his 25-year career with the choir. The Jubilee Singers have sung music from the African-American oral traditions, as well as other music of the African diaspora, for nearly fifty years at All Souls Church. The residency program brought five very accomplished musicians/directors from around the country to work with the choir and direct worship music for one Sunday per month in the second half of the 2022-23 church year.
Migrant Solidarity Team (MST) ($7,000)
All Souls’ Migrant Solidarity Team (MST) is dedicated to addressing the basic needs of migrants — including food security, stable housing, access to health and childcare resources, job support/development and social connections — in our metropolitan area. In FY2021, with support from Beckner, MST reactivated the Immigrant and Refugee Assistance Fund (IRAF) which responds to specific urgent needs of individuals or families. In the past, IRAF has addressed needs ranging from fees for government IDs and driver’s licenses to tires for individuals who use their vehicles for work. This most recent grant replenished the available funds in IRAF.
Social Justice Ministry ($5,000)
Proposed by All Souls’ minister for social justice, Rev. Rob Keithan, Beckner joined with the Social Justice Ministry to launch a speaker series of important social justice authors. The aim for the series is to provide education and inspiration on critical social justice issues, as well as draw new people to the church and raise All Souls’ profile in the city. The Beckner Fund grant is providing initial seed capital for the series. With plans to feature multiple authors over the course of a church year, the series debuted in May 2023 by hosting Steve Philipps in conversation about his newest book “How We Win the Civil War”. Staff from Beckner’s grantee partner, The Potter’s House, served as booksellers for the event.