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Equity Council Announces First Equity Partner Grants

The Equity Council announces more than $50,000 in grants that will support the work of 13 equity partners creating change and opportunity for local BIPOC communities.

From enhancing maternal health opportunities and supporting mental health for young men of color, to creation of culturally-relevant news and information sources and celebrating local elders, these projects are creating direct impact for communities of color in Lancaster County. Each partner will receive between $2000 – 5000 to support their work.

The Equity Council convened in the fall of 2021. Recognizing the resiliency, tenacity and talent within Black, Brown, Indigenous, and Immigrant communities; and understanding the deep inequities both in community and within philanthropy; Xavier Garcia-Molina created the Equity Fund and Equity Council in partnership with the Lancaster County Community Foundation.  Co-chairs Xavier Garcia-Molina and Kareena Rios, as well as Founding members Christopher Aviles, Julia Cao, LaRock Hudson, and Norma Vazquez created a process that directly informs where and how the dollars from this fund will make the most equitable impact in our community. The Equity Fund launched with a $100,000 investment from the Community Foundation. These are the first grants from that fund. 

The Equity Council designed and led the process for the Equity Grants. These grants are extraordinary because, for the first time, local leaders of color are guiding funding decisions that support communities of color. 

The Equity Council approached the selection process with deep intention. “We want to bring equity into the space of philanthropy,” explains Garcia-Molina. Many traditional funding applications require in-depth written submissions detailing project goals and outcomes. “For people not familiar with that approach, or who do not have a trusted relationship with the funder, the application itself becomes a barrier for strong and important work being supported,” he said. 

From the beginning, the Council committed to shifting the approach for how people access financial and grant support. The first invitation for submissions offered a range of options for applicants including: 

  • Sample applications. Applicants could access sample documents with concrete examples of specific details and successful applications.
  • Language support. Applications used familiar, accessible language instead industry-specific technical terms. They also offered the option to apply in multiple languages. 
  • Video interviewing. For those less comfortable with written communication, the Council provided coaching sessions during the application process and encouraged dialogue with applicants’  about their project and goals. 

After hosting online information sessions about the grant opportunity, the Equity Council received 23 submissions. “We learned that people felt comfortable with us and participating in this process,” Garcia-Molina said. “We will continue to offer a range of ways for people to learn about, and participate in, funding opportunities in the future.”

The Equity Council sees the initial funding as an important first step on a pathway to a more equitable approach to local philanthropy. “How do we share power with people doing the work in our community while systemic change is happening?” asks Garcia-Molina. “We think this is one way to help lead that change.” 

The Community Foundation continues to learn with — and from —  the leadership of the Equity Council and is honored to walk beside the Equity Partners as they continue to create impact that will strengthen our entire community. 

You can support the work of the Equity Council by making a donation to the Equity Fund.

A full list of Equity Partners and project summaries is below:

Evita Colon A Speak to My Soul Publication, BLK Voices Magazine  Relaunch Speak to My Soul’s publication, BLK Voices Magazine, a quarterly publication that amplifies and celebrates people of the African diaspora through art, photography, and storytelling.
Rae Johnson Bundy and Madhumitha Rajakittu-Pudupatti What’s a Doula? Community awareness for better understanding.  Bring awareness to Maternal Health needs among the BIPOC community in Lancaster County and Doulas’s role in bridging the gap.
Marquis Lupton TCP Media Center Acquire the necessary equipment for an afterschool program and summer camp for children in Lancaster County, where they learn about media and broadcasting.
Perseus Gross Jordan’s River Web-Series & Equity Summit Developing a short web series and an equity summit anchored on the story of a transgender woman displaced in Lancaster County during the COVID-19 Pandemic that highlights the needs of the transgender community, particularly transgender women.
Salina Almanzar-Oree Taller Pa’lante: Art in Parks Return pop-art engagements in neighborhood parks by facilitating mini murals, make-and-take, and paintings, and investing in a youth mentee who will learn how to conduct community-engaged arts engagements by working alongside Salina Almanzar and Osmyn Oree.
Solise White Soul Soul Kharisma Professional Development Program Expanding their knowledge and dance fitness certifications to provide more services that meet the needs of Soul Kharisma Dance Fitness participants/instructors and identifying opportunities to scale their business while investing in themselves.
Ahmed Ahmed Welcome packets for Refugee and Immigrant Families Curating welcome kits for refugee and immigrant families that include gift cards, masks, maps, who-to-call lists, and local treats to best acclimate and integrate their lives with their new neighbors in their new home of Lancaster
Garret Drew Ellis Elder Stories of Lancaster Provide storytelling opportunities for our community’s black and brown elders to showcase their tenacity and wisdom and preserve their life stories.
Niambi Stanley Transcendent Documentary Collect the life stories of the transgender community whose stories go unheard due to discrimination and marginalization within our community. In the end, these stories will be transformed into a documentary that speaks to Black Trans Resilience.
Kent Wilkinson Kent Nazareth Yoga Man Studio Provide yoga classes, music and cultural events, wellness workshops, and cultural wellness retreats for BIPOC individuals that may not necessarily feel comfortable or safe in traditional yoga or wellness spaces.
Dominique Miller Shell Strategic Planning or Professional Development: Tru2You Develop a strategic plan that amplifies the work of Tru2You and helps them expand the number of mentors and regular students participating. This volunteer-based initiative provides young people at a neighborhood level with mentorship and skill-building opportunities that empower them to be the best versions of themselves while taking pride in their neighborhood.
Keisha Finnie Strategic Planning or Professional Development: BIPOC Gallery Row Exhibit Identify opportunities to increase the representation of BIPOC artists showcased in the City of Lancaster’s Gallery Row and develop a plan to lead efforts in implementing these changes.
Starleisha Gingrich Strategic Planning or Professional Development: In Our Own Words, A Look at The Lancaster Community Develop a plan to provide the Lancaster County community with a complete play that centers on the stories of BIPOC residents and is in its totality driven by and created by the community.