Bread & Roses Community Fund: Striving for Racial Equity and Economic Justice

In 2017, Bread & Roses Community Fund celebrated 40 years of funding resistance movements. During that time, Bread & Roses has moved more than $10 million to grassroots organizations in the Philadelphia region that are fighting for racial and economic justice.


Casey Cook, Executive Director, has been at Bread & Roses Community Fund for over ten years. She told me she feels privileged to be a part of that history and to work with an amazing team of staff, volunteers, and organizers who work every day to create real change in the Philadelphia region and beyond. “The work we do together is shifting the balance of power in our region, lifting up the voices of those who have been silenced, and creating equity for all of our communities. We do that through collective action, driven by a sense of mutual accountability. We are in the midst of creating a world that has yet to be imagined,” said Cook.


In 2016, Bread & Roses launched the Giving Project, an innovative model for building leadership and moving money for real change in the Philadelphia region.


The Giving Project brings together a cross-class, cross-race, intergenerational group of people who share a vision for social justice and want to apply their time, talent, and resources to supporting movements for social change.


“Participants embark on a transformative six-month process of shared learning and personal growth to gain a deeper understanding of race and racism, the impact of the growing wealth divide, and how to support community-based organizations mobilizing for racial and economic justice,” said Cook. “They commit to making a financial contribution that is personally meaningful, with no minimum amount, and to raising money for the Giving Project from their friends and families. Participants also receive training and coaching to support their fundraising success.”


The Giving Project then guides participants through a transparent, democratic decision-making process for distributing the money they’ve raised as grants to community-based organizations.


Since 2016, Casey said Giving Projects have distributed more than $450,000 to resistance movements in Philadelphia and grassroots organizations working for racial equity and economic justice.


Focus on racial equity and economic justice for all


Bread & Roses has a vision for racial equity and economic justice for all people.  “We believe that movements for change will make that possible. In fact, collective action is the only way that real change happens. Movements need money, and it’s our job to help them get it,” said Cook. “To do that, we organize donors to give at any level and to fundraise from their friends and family members. Then we put that money into the hands of organizers to fight and win and make the world a better place.”


Bread & Roses doubled the amount of money the fund made in grants between 2015 and 2017. Casey said that in 2018, they want to double it again. It’s an ambitious goal, but one they feel compelled to take on.


“In 2018, we truly do need to stand together. We know that we’ll face attempts to divide us by how we look, who we love, where we come from, or what language we speak. Organizers are responding. Movements are building momentum,” said Cook. “At Bread & Roses we know that none of us is free until all of us are free. And that is why we remain steadfast in our commitment to providing the financial support those movements need to succeed by organizing donors and inspiring people to give.”


Between 2015 and 2017 the number of donations Bread & Roses received doubled. The size of those gifts range from $2 to $30,000. The Bread & Roses network of donors is vast and includes people from all over the Philadelphia region who believe in justice and want to help bring equity to our region. “We are grateful for the investment our donors make in creating real change, and the current political moment presents special challenges for our grantees–the need for organizing is as great as it’s ever been, and we are always looking to expand the Bread & Roses family. We invite anyone who wants more equity for Philadelphia, our country and our world, to give as generously as possible,” said Cook.


Lean staff always in need of volunteers


Bread & Roses has a very lean staff and relies on the work of their generous and committed volunteers to make what they do possible. Participation in the Giving Project is open to anyone who is interested in building community and moving money to movements for change. Cook said they are always looking for new Giving Project members.


If you are interested in learning more about joining a Giving Project, contact their director of programs, Aarati Kasturirangan at or 215-731-1107 x 206. If you’d like to volunteer in another capacity, please contact Casey at or 215-731-1107 x203.


Do you believe that a better world is possible? Do you agree that real change requires the collective action of communities coming together to create that change? Do you want to be part of creating something larger than yourself? Join the Bread & Roses family! To learn more about Bread & Roses or to make a gift, visit their website at or contact Casey.