THE XX FUND is proud to present the 2021 nominees. Throughout the pandemic, these organizations have remained on the frontlines of urgent needs and advocacy by and for women and girls experiencing the disproportional impacts on their education, housing, employment, mental health, reproductive health, resilience to the justice system, safety from violence, and in communities of color, senior women, immigrant women, and Black trans women. All are worthy of your awareness and support.
In March 2021, The New Republic reported, “Having children is the single greatest predictor of whether someone will face eviction. It can be difficult to make rent and support a family, especially for women of color, who on average are paid less than white women, and single mothers living on one paycheck.” The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) Action is a grassroots, Black woman-helmed, member-led, statewide community organization working with more than 15,000 members across California to organize for tenant protection and anti-displacement efforts, predominated by women member-leaders. ACCE Action holds Renters Rising and Defend Your Home virtual and in-person workshops once a week, mobilizing participants collectively into the Housing Justice League. Tenants support each other to help stop landlord harassment and to reverse illegal landlord lockouts; several recent instances in Los Angeles assisted senior women in getting a landlord to reverse a lockout. Liberty Hill’s Stay Housed LA program has recorded 1,000 reports of landlord harassment and 354 tenants experiencing lockouts. ACCE was key to SB-91—the COVID Tenant Relief Bill which will forgive the unpaid rent of renters who meet the income criteria for the program.
Black Women for Wellness is committed to the health and well-being of Black women and girls through organizing innovative and relevant programs for reproductive justice, environmental justice, access to quality prenatal, maternal, and child health care, voter mobilization, and civic engagement, such as the Reproductive Justice Week of actions held in September 2021 and the Vote(Her) guide in 2020. Successful legislation they have written or co-sponsored include the groundbreaking California Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act passed in 2019, SB312 in 2020 (see CHNSC below), and the comprehensive California Momnibus Act in 2021 that advances racial equity in pregnancy and birthing outcomes. BWW would use the XX Fund grant to support their Get Smart B4U Get Sexy comprehensive sex education program that provides prevention and intervention resources for youth and young adults (ages 12 – 30) particularly those who are African American and/or Black, female, in foster care systems and/or at high risk for sexually transmitted infections. Since the pandemic, syphilis rates in Los Angeles County have risen to levels not seen in over 30 years, highest for African-Americans especially women. In pregnant women, syphilis leads to stillbirth, neonatal death, premature birth, low birth weight, and other complications and disabilities.
Lisa Fu Executive Director
As low wage immigrant workers, manicurists interact with other women of color daily, literally “holding hands” to provide services. There is an urgent need to support the nail salon industry by holding a safe space for education and community dialogue around race and white supremacy, especially given the current increase in anti-Asian violence and the racial justice movement. The California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative is a statewide grassroots organization that addresses health, environmental, reproductive justice, voter engagement and other issues faced by its low-income, female, Vietnamese immigrant and refugee workforce that is 400,000 strong. In partnership with the UCLA Labor Center, CHNSC will release a research report describing how members have been impacted by COVID-19 and anti-Asian racism including impact on mental health and loss of business revenue. Recent wins include SB 312 in 2020, which requires companies selling beauty or personal care products to report hazardous fragrance ingredients to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Safe Cosmetics Program.
California Latinas for Reproductive Justice (CLRJ) is a statewide organization committed to honoring the experiences of Latinas to uphold our dignity, our bodies, sexuality, and families. CLRJ focuses on policy advocacy and organizing as strategies to fight for Latinas and protect access to reproductive/sexual health services, and in 2021 won $7 million in compensation from the State of California for survivors of forced sterilization. Funding from the XX Fund would support a group of women in Bell Gardens organized by CLRJ, who call themselves the Union de Vecinas (women neighbors union). Nearly 80% of Bell residents are renters, yet local government leaders refused to enact stronger measures to protect renters during the pandemic. With CLRJ’s support and organizing, the Unión de Vecinas decided to fight for rent control and just cause eviction laws on behalf of the renters in their community, putting pressure on local decision makers. CLRJ helps make the connection to how their lived experiences relate to historical injustices including restrictions on reproductive health–control over immigration is similar to control over bodily autonomy; low wages and high cost of rent can mean delaying a Well Woman exam or not purchasing contraception. To see the video that CLRJ mentions creating with a member of the Union, go to: https://youtu.be/djdSgBN21bQ
Center for the Pacific Asian Family (CPAF) specializes in supporting immigrant, limited-English speaking Asian and Pacific Islander survivors of gender violence. With services available in 30 different languages, CPAF operates the only 24-hour API-language crisis hotline for survivors of domestic and sexual violence in Southern California and is the only rape crisis center in California that is tailored to API survivors. Even with a 22% increase in 2020, advocates provide counseling, case management, parenting classes, life-skills classes, and support finding permanent affordable housing options and job opportunities for a period of 12-24 months in transitional housing, while children are provided with counseling, academic and emotional support, and after-school activities. In 2020, 100% of survivors and children graduating from CPAF shelters went into safe/permanent housing. In 2021, CPAF continues to focus on prevention and early intervention, as well as drawing the connections between various forms of violence including anti-Asian violence and the intersection with misogyny and domestic violence. Funding from XX will support a Prevention Program for youth advocates; an Emergency Fund for survivors fleeing violence; and Economic Empowerment for women who are often abused by their partners’ financial control, now learning to become financially literate, obtain marketable skills, and that saving is essential.
Essie Justice Group (Essie) was founded with a mission to harness the collective power of women and gender-noncomforming people with incarcerated loved ones, seeking to end mass incarceration’s harm to women and communities. One in 4 women and nearly 1 in 2 Black women has a family member in prison, suffering a debilitating financial and emotional toll. To fight the harms of mass incarceration, and ultimately reform our criminal justice system and decarcerate California, Essie uses three strategies: 1) build community power using Essie’s model of Healing to Advocacy cohorts; 2) drive social change through Black and Brown women-led campaign advocacy on issues such as the devastating impact of money bail and unresponsiveness to COVID-19 behind bars, and building momentum towards prison closures in California to bring our loved ones home; and 3) lead the field in shifting narratives to expose incarceration’s true harm to women and communities of color–Essie found that 86% of women suffer significant or extreme mental health impacts when a loved one is incarcerated, and 63% report significant or extreme physical health impacts. With funding from XX, Essie will support the leadership development and advocacy skills of women with incarcerated loved ones in Los Angeles County. They are running a virtual Los Angeles Healing to Advocacy cohort to connect women and gender nonconforming people with incarcerated loved ones to healing, isolation-breaking community, and advocacy skills.
Essie Justice Group (Essie) was founded with a mission to harness the collective power of women and gender-noncomforming people with incarcerated loved ones, seeking to end mass incarceration’s harm to women and communities. One in 4 women and nearly 1 in 2 Black women has a family member in prison, suffering a debilitating financial and emotional toll. To fight the harms of mass incarceration, and ultimately reform our criminal justice system and decarcerate California, Essie uses three strategies: 1) build community power using Essie’s model of Healing to Advocacy cohorts; 2) drive social change through Black and Brown women-led campaign advocacy on issues such as the devastating impact of money bail and unresponsiveness to COVID-19 behind bars, and building momentum towards prison closures in California to bring our loved ones home; and 3) lead the field in shifting narratives to expose incarceration’s true harm to women and communities of color–Essie found that 86% of women suffer significant or extreme mental health impacts when a loved one is incarcerated, and 63% report significant or extreme physical health impacts. With funding from XX, Essie will support the leadership development and advocacy skills of women with incarcerated loved ones in Los Angeles County. They are running a virtual Los Angeles Healing to Advocacy cohort to connect women and gender nonconforming.
The Immigration Center for Women and Children (ICWC) is a non-profit legal services organization providing free or affordable immigration services to underrepresented immigrants in California. ICWC strives to provide security and stability for children who are abused, abandoned or neglected and for immigrants who are survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and other violent crimes. With offices in Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco, ICWC has served more than 45,000 women and children. ICWC uses the Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) and asylum laws to help undocumented children who are abused, abandoned, or neglected to become permanent residents. In 2020, ICWC received 62,170 total calls servicing clients or potential clients, and filed 2,688 applications or motions with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or Immigration Court for survivors of trauma and their families. In 2021, ICWC will continue its advocacy with government officials to improve policy and regulations that impact immigrant survivors of trauma. Additionally, ICWC is expanding overall capacity to respond to the high demand for services and prepare for potential immigration reform. They are continuing to expand legal programs for children in response to the large influx of unaccompanied minors in California. ICWC would use a grant from the XX Fund for general support to increase capacity for services.
MOSTe (Motivating Our Students Through Experience) is a community-based mentoring, scholarship, and college-access organization dedicated to ensuring that girls from underserved areas in L.A. County have the support they need to reach and graduate from college. MOSTe recruits scholars in seventh and eighth grades, and inspires them to set goals and develop a college-going identity. MOSTe serves students in Mid-City, South LA, Watts, Lincoln Heights, and Pasadena. One hundred percent of MOSTe’s scholars come from low-income families, and over 90% will be first generation college students. In 2020, MOSTe’s 200 students were 80% Latinx, 13% Black, and 7% AAPI or mixed race. They place students in supportive relationships with professional female mentors who act as friends, advisors, and guides on the journey toward higher education and beyond. Students attend academic and personal growth workshops, as well as cultural enrichment and community service outings. In 2021, MOSTe will be adding a new partner middle school to replace one that closed in 2020, rebuilding their scholar recruitment to pre-pandemic levels, increasing their enrollment of Black students, and continuing to recruit mentors who reflect the diversity of their scholars. Support from the XX Fund would be gratefully used for general program support.
Justice in Aging (JIA) was founded in Los Angeles with additional offices in Oakland and Washington DC and advocates for access to affordable health care and economic security for older adults with limited resources, focusing especially on populations that have traditionally lacked legal protection such as women, people of color, LGBT individuals, and people with limited English proficiency. Older women are twice as likely as men to live in poverty, due to wage discrimination, low wage jobs, death of a spouse, and divorce. Twenty-five percent of Black women over 65 and 23% of Hispanic women over 65 live in poverty. With the XX Fund’s most recent grant, Justice in Aging trained 459 advocates in Los Angeles and released a 30-page Special Report illuminating the disproportionate experience of poverty among older women, particularly among women of color. During COVID, their policy advocacy led to more than $2 billion in new investments for older adults in California in the coming years. In 2021, Justice in Aging is addressing inequities in how folks age by launching a new strategic initiative to Advance Equity and center all of their advocacy work in fighting systemic inequities that impact older adults. One of their top priorities as the COVID pandemic subsides is to reimagine the care infrastructure so that it invests in the needs of older adults and their caregivers, the majority of whom are women, so that more older adults can age at home, connected to their families and their communities.
Kindred Space LA is a birthing, education, and training facility owned and operated by Black midwives. They offer home and birth center birth, lactation consultations, placenta encapsulation, childbirth education, prenatal breastfeeding education, parenting support and birthworker training in the greater Los Angeles area. Research shows that Black women’s rate of death before, during or after childbirth is 4x higher than white women in L.A. County. Kindred Space LA aims to address the disproportionate rates of Black maternal and infant mortality and to empower women and people of color (POC) by providing free and low cost training, education and certification for birthworkers. Last year, they moved to a newly renovated building in Hyde Park, South LA, an area identified by L.A. County as an area with one of the highest rates of infant mortality in the region. A fully operational birthing center and clinical training site for students, Kindred Space LA is today the only Black-owned birth center in Los Angeles. To date, they have trained more than 250 eager POC women and men to support and protect black families in pregnancy, birth and beyond, becoming Doulas, Childbirth Educators, Breastfeeding Peer Educators, Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultants, and Midwives, and making that care more accessible to Black birthing people and people of color.
Maegan Ortiz Executive Director
While Los Angeles and the state of California focus on recovery and vaccination, domestic workers still sit solidly within the gaps. There are no official workforce development programs to help deal with the nearly 50 percent job loss rate domestic workers and day laborers experienced during COVID. Mujeres en Acción’s member leaders engage over 500 domestic workers through street outreach, workshops, advocacy campaigns, and weekly membership meetings, focusing on domestic worker leadership development and labor rights through skills building and self determination. Because there is no official count of household domestic workers who got sick or died from COVID since private homes aren’t considered workplaces, IDEPSCA is pushing the City of Los Angeles to invest more funding in the day labor infrastructure and help pilot a workforce development program. They are also working to push the Los Angeles Department of Public Health to include the needs of domestic workers and day laborers. Finally, with IDEPSCA as lead within the California Domestic Workers Coalition, successfully lobbied for passage of SB 321 in 2021 that ends the exclusion of household domestic service workers from being covered under Cal-OSHA regulations.
Positive Results Center teaches leadership and character development skills to youth in Black communities to promote healthy communities and prevent acts and exposure to violence. In 2020, PRC conducted Trauma and Healing awareness for Black girls and young women who have been sexually assaulted or in domestic violence relationships, 25-30% of whom identify as LGBTQ. During COVID, PRC saw a 125% rise in community members contacting them for support, counseling,, awareness training, intervention and direct hands-on engagement, while their public contracts and submitted bids for this work vanished during the lockdown. Throughout 2021, PRC was proactive in their programming and services. PRC and its Black Women Leaders Network organized a six-part virtual series of two-hour community conversations with 30 speakers and 1,000 attendees to collectively strategize solutions for injustice, equity, accountability, and healing to develop a blueprint for change. PRC trained the Peace Officers Standards and Training organization on cultural fluency in working in Black communities. PRC held a program training youth advocates ages 10-20 on the intersection between dating violence and gun violence. Funding from XX will support: three weekly small group therapy sessions for youth, parents and young adults in response to an increase in violence (gun violence, domestic violence, sexual assault) and a decline in mental, emotional and physical health amoung Black and Brown youth; Healing Our Heavenly Portals which was born out of the need for Black women to have personal control over their reproductive health; and general support for theircurrent programs and budget. Recognized for this vital work, Kandee Lewis was appointed to the Civil and Human Rights Commission of the City of Los Angeles in 2020.
#SheCanDoIt is a group therapy program for young women ages 14-21 with a mental health diagnosis who have endured some form of physical/emotional violence and trauma. The program’s focus is to help these young women build coping skills, resiliency, empowerment, self-advocacy and friendship, and create positive futures for themselves. Given the intersecting identities of #SheCanDoIt’s participants (young people, women, persons of color, low socioeconomic status, many with chronic medical conditions, etc.), many of them have been especially impacted by COVID-19 with regard to failing mental health, finances, transportation, health and food insecurity. The latest XX Fund grants provided direct support for the 8th and 9th rounds of their 15-week trauma-informed group therapy program for young women, referred from a wide range of programs (homeless youth, parenting teens, substance use, and behavioral health programs). Over the past year, they also continued to facilitate the #SheCanDoIt mentorship program where older young women aged 18-26 who have previously graduated from earlier rounds of the group, continue to be engaged in their own ‘graduate group’ tackling advanced topics of young adult identity formation, and serving as mentors and role models for the newer members in special event combination sessions.
In 2020, girls represented the fastest-growing group in LA County’s juvenile justice system, with Black girls representing the fastest-growing segment. Founded and run by Akuyoe Graham, a Ghanaian-American woman, Spirit Awakening Foundation (SAF) is an arts organization led by a group of dynamic women artists who are dedicated to uplifting and valuing all those that identify as girls/women. SAF affirms and models the strengths, resiliency, intelligence, and beauty of the Feminine Principle. Until the jail’s recent closure, SAF was developing and providing services and programs specifically designed to support incarcerated girls at Camp Joseph Scott, the only all-girls’ probation facility in LA County. In 2021, nine alternative sites – including public high schools, continuation high schools and juvenile facilities – have requested SAF’s programs. SAF’s newest initiative, Spirit Home, will provide a new residential model for young women aged 18-24 who were previously incarcerated, systems-involved and/or are in need of safe housing in LA. Spirit Home will provide a unique blend of supportive services including case management, life skills training, academic support, employment readiness, and a curriculum which offers instruction in creative expression, dramatic improvisation and mentoring, among other things. A $15,000 grant would help SAF cover the costs of expanding the programming to serve young women in college and to expand the curriculum to help students explore the process of story-telling so they can learn how to flip the script and take control of their narratives and become empowered leaders.
Unique Woman’s Coalition (UWC) is committed to fostering the next generation of Black Trans leadership from within the Los Angeles community through mentorship, scholarship, and community care engagement work. UWC provides a wide range of professional services to meet the needs of Black Trans people, particularly Black Trans women, including a referral service, which bridges service gaps and creates a stronger service network to achieve a healthy and empowered community, as well as a cultural competency training for healthcare professionals, which focuses on skills and knowledge to uplift diversity, understand and respond to cultural differences, and increase awareness of providers’ and care organizations’ cultural norms. UWC also offers a monthly community support group, Melanin Magic, and a Legal Documents Clinic, which helps trans folks navigate replacement and gender-affirming basic legal documents such as name change and gender alignment on ID and Social Security cards. UWC is located in the newly opened Connie Norman Transgender Empowerment Center in West Hollywood, a home for several Trans-led organizations including Unique Woman’s Coalition as an anchor organization and also FLUX, a national division of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. The center is the first of its kind and will focus on building capacity, leadership and advocacy while giving their siblings office space to call home–, “it’s our version of a Trans-powered work space.”