Winners of $100,000 Grants Announced for Groups Fostering Social Change in Oakland

Oakland, CA
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By Jenna Tooley and Bergen Greenley

OAKLAND, CA — The East Bay Community Foundation, Akonadi Foundation and the City of Oakland’s Cultural Affairs Division this week unveiled the recipients of the third round of awards for Belonging In Oakland: A Just City Cultural Fund.

Three projects have been selected for funding in this round, and for the first time, the reward consists of three $100,000 grants per year, allocated for organizations throughout Oakland dedicated to fostering social change in underserved communities, specifically those of color.

The first is Belonging and Justice, a collaboration between the Asian Prisoner Support Committee and Asian Refugees United, addressing “crimmigration” systems that impact Oakland’s immigrant families, according to Belonging in Oakland.

The second project selected is Ecosystems for Economic and Racial Justice, a collaboration between Oakland Bloom and Sticky Rice Club, implementing cultural and economic equity-based programming alongside cooperative real estate and business development models for Oakland’s Chinatown.

The third winning project is Remember, Resist and Reclaim (R3), which envisions cooperatively-owned Black Cultural Hubs representing at least one-quarter of the commercial landscape in Oakland. It’s a collaboration between Black Cultural Zone Community Development Corporation, Alena Museum, Black Terminus, and East Side Arts Alliance.

This unique initiative, in its third funding cycle, was launched in the Spring of 2020 in response to the COVID-19 crisis, aiming to reimagine Oakland into “a more equitable and just city,” as stated by Belonging in Oakland, noting it exemplifies a collaborative effort to center Black, Indigenous and People of Color artists and culture workers in the pursuit of racial justice.

The selected projects aim to develop, test and document radical ideas that challenge systemic racism, with a focus on racial justice. In addition to the grants, each project will receive a $12,000 annual stipend for artists and cultural practitioners’ “life-sustaining expenses” and a $25,000 allocation for documenting the collaboration, said Belonging in Oakland.

Brandi Howard, President and CEO of the East Bay Community Foundation highlighted the significance of community-rooted projects, stating, “All three grantees are collaborative projects deeply rooted in Oakland communities. We believe in investing in the creative and radical visions of community members who want to reimagine our future and spark the hope that will liberate unrealized potential towards creating an Oakland where we all belong.”

The Just City Cultural Fund is “a partnership that combines public, private, and community resources, aligning the commitment of the East Bay Community Foundation, the racial justice mission of the Akonadi Foundation, and the cultural equity vision of Oakland’s Cultural Affairs Division,” noted Belonging in Oakland.

Each of the grantees were chosen for their “commitment to racial and social-justice policies in areas such as community development, economic justice, educational equity, environmental justice, sustainability, climate change, food justice, health and well-being, housing rights, immigrant & refugee rights, land use & spatial justice, participation in the civic realm, public safety and workers’ rights,” as outlined on East Bay Community Foundation’s website.

Belonging in Oakland highlighted the main contributions of each organization.

Akonadi Foundation supports powerful social change movements, primarily in Oakland, that work to eliminate structural racism and create a racially just society. The Cultural Affairs Division is housed in the City’s Economic & Workforce Development Department, supporting the arts and public art installations across Oakland.

The East Bay Community Foundation connects donors with community-led movements to eliminate structural barriers, advance racial equity, and create an inclusive, fair and just East Bay according to Belonging in Oakland.

Lastly, the Surdna Foundation seeks to foster sustainable communities in the United States, guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy environments, strong local economies, and thriving cultures stated Belonging in Oakland.

Raymond Colmenar, President of the Akonadi Foundation, emphasized the importance of community-rooted visionaries, stating, “For answers to thought-provoking questions, we turn to community-rooted Black, Indigenous, and People of Color visionaries, artists, activists, cultural workers, and resilient culture keepers to recover old wisdoms and illuminate future path.”

The Fund’s transformative power lies in the arts, serving as a catalyst for racial justice, it said. In this funding round, the initiative aims to resource and bring to life radical ideas that reimagine societal operations over a three-year period. From narrative shifts to policy prototypes, the fund seeks to expand the realm of possibilities to achieve racial justice.

Roberto Bedoya, Oakland Cultural Affairs Manager, emphasized the Fund’s support for community-driven visions, stating, “The Just City Fund supports the ways our community imagines our lives together as Oaklanders. These awardees illuminate how the work of creating beauty and manifesting justice shapes democracy, culture, and belonging, which is central to our civic well-being,” as highlighted by Belonging in Oakland.

About The Author

Jenna Tooley is a third-year senior studying Political Science with a concentration in American Politics and minors in Global Studies and Public Affairs at the University of California, Los Angeles. She has a passion for social justice and advocacy work and intends on pursuing Law School in the very near future, with a potential specialization in Criminal Law in aims of dismantiling the stigma around incarcerated people and addressing the root causes of recidvism to provides incarcerated people resources and rehabilitation to independently function upon re-entry into society. Outside of her advocacy work she enjoys traveling and sightseeing, aborbing the ambiance of coffee shops, and thifting as a form of self-care.

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