Doing The Work: 11 Social Justice Organizations Making A Difference

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As a kid, I used to watch the news every single night with my mom around dinner time. We’d tune into the local channels and then switch over to the World News just as we were setting the table.

Now, at the ages of 5 through 8, I didn’t really understand what I was listening to — just that for that hour and a half of news time with my mom, I was in a serious space — privy to the same broadcasts given to the adults. I might have been learning about fractions, but I was also learning about the world as it was changing.

Throughout high school and college, I totally tuned out. No more tune-in routine while making dinner, maybe five minutes for a quick scroll of headlines. When I wasn’t focused on classwork and deadlines, I was building up my social life and working on planting my own roots. I didn’t start paying attention again until the 2016 election campaigns began, and news made its way into social media.

It’s impossible to ignore issues that feel more moral than they are political, especially when people start to speak up. While I give a nod to social media for, in my experience, enabling its users to spread awareness and share resources with communities, it doesn’t compare to an unbiased broadcast + discussion over dinner with my family. Misinformation is easily spread, there’s a lot of inherent bias that’s often overlooked, and people sometimes just refuse to do the research.

I struggled with finding my place during the summer of 2020. There was little to do but doomscroll on IG, sharing and re-posting inspirational messages and volunteer opportunities, plus which brands were bad and which organizations were good and who was cancelled and…you get the picture. And, even though I felt like I was active in the conversation, I also felt like I wasn’t making a difference. I felt like I was…virtue-signaling. If I wanted to actively know I had contributed to any change at all, it wasn’t going to be on Instagram.

At the time, I lived right by City Hall in Philadelphia, and it felt like a monumental reckoning when people started gathering. Small grassroots organizations started pulling together to promote education, reform and demand reparations, public protests were scheduled and organized, community leaders publicly advocated for social justice. I saved every flier spread on FB or IG, mask’d up and walked my way around the city, listening to moms, educators, teens, group representatives and social advocates share stories and demand better resources and support for the community.

11 Social Justice Organizations & Nonprofits Making A Difference

As much as I drag Instagram for being (in my opinion) the worst place to learn…well, anything…social media is where I dipped my toes into learning about social issues and the problematic constructs within political systems. From there, it’s one’s personal responsibility to do deeper research and get a wider perspective. It’s a learning opportunity that I believe we owe ourselves. It’s only after we’ve put in some work, as individuals, that we learn about active opportunities to do the work for one another.

As the demonstrations continue worldwide, we’re sharing some recommendations about where you can donate your resources to support social justice, to help community organizers in their fight against inequality, and to stand in solidarity with organizations promoting equal economic, educational and workplace opportunities.

1. Gender Spectrum

Our recommendations for supporting social justice, helping community organizers & standing in solidarity w/ organizations promoting equal economic, educational + workplace opportunities.
credit: genderspectrum.org

We learned about this one from Jesse Thorn, creator and host of the podcast Bullseye. Here’s a bit more about why he supports Gender Spectrum. His position is one I think we can all take to heart — action begins with education.

In Their Words: “Gender Spectrum works to create gender sensitive & inclusive environments for all children and teens…to take the critical areas of children’s lives & work to bring greater gender understanding & inclusion. We focus on creating gender-inclusive spaces throughout the primary domains of all children’s lives…working with adults & institutions that affect all children to create gender-inclusive environments from birth through young adulthood.”

The Good They Do: Gender Spectrum provides resources for trans, non-binary, and gender expansive youth and adults that include webinars, live Q&A sessions, mental health & health resources, parenting information and so much more. Resources like these are so valuable for so many people’s lives and help them find the answers they need.

How You Can Help: Donate, or find other ways to give.


2. KIND

Our recommendations for supporting social justice, helping community organizers & standing in solidarity w/ organizations promoting equal economic, educational + workplace opportunities.
credit: supportkind.org

We became actively aware of the work KIND does during the family separation crisis in 2018. The kids still need us. Families are still separated, detained, and prosecuted for seeking asylum.

In Their Words: “Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) is the preeminent U.S.-based nongovernmental organization devoted to protection of unaccompanied & separated children. KIND envisions a world in which every unaccompanied child on the move has access to legal counsel and has their rights and well-being protected as they migrate alone in search of safety.”

The Good They Do: KIND fights for some of the most vulnerable of the population, providing social and legal services for kids who need help. This includes not only defending them legally, but supporting them through the traumas caused by violence and fear during their endeavors of migration. They also offer many different ways to lend your support if money is an issue. Lending your time and attention can be just as important!

How You Can Help: Donate, Advocate, Learn or Fundraise


3. Row House Publishing

Our recommendations for supporting social justice, helping community organizers & standing in solidarity w/ organizations promoting equal economic, educational + workplace opportunities.

We’re pretty excited about this brand new publishing company (so much so that Shana and Mike invested). Their mission of prioritizing a diverse range of voices is hugely important, building bridges through sharing stories.

In Their Words: “Our mission is to create an equitable publishing model that represents the values and diversity of the authors and audience we embrace. In 2020, it became clear that there was no publisher equally committed to supporting authors while also honoring antiracist and inclusive principles. Row House is creating a new model that supports authors from diverse backgrounds—ethnic, racial, economic, orientation, and identification—from day one.”

The Good They Do: Row House Publishing is attempting to disrupt the publishing industry that too often prioritizes white, affluent voices. Not only is the founder, Rebekah, offering authors a more equitable split (she’s an author herself and gets how important this is), but they’re prioritizing a diverse range of voices.

How You Can Help: Invest or Donate through Patreon


4. No More Secrets

Our recommendations for supporting social justice, helping community organizers & standing in solidarity w/ organizations promoting equal economic, educational + workplace opportunities.
credit: nomoresecretsmbs.org

According to 2018 research from the Alliance for Period Supplies, 1 in 4 women struggle to purchase those supplies due to lack of income. And that was before the pandemic. We heard about No More Secrets on an episode of Marketplace. Since then, we’ve committed our support to this local Philly-based organization’s mission to end period poverty.

In Their Words: “Founded in 2012, No More Secrets Mind Body Spirit Inc. is the nation’s first sexuality awareness & consultative organization. Our focus is to decrease risk in vulnerable populations through the development and implementation of sustainable programming and polices…On February 20th, 2021, No More Secrets Mind Body Spirit Inc., proudly opened the nation’s first menstrual hub, “The SPOT Period”, located in Germantown Philadelphia, PA. all through crowd funding efforts.”

The Good They Do: This powerhouse mom-and-daughter duo deliver more than 38,000 menstrual products a week (and almost 2 million products last year). They’ve also got a center up and running that provides a safe space for women to learn about menstrual health and wellness, and this is a really direct way to support women.

How You Can Help: Donate Supplies or from this Amazon Wishlist, support this GoFundMe, or Volunteer


5. The Loveland Foundation

Our recommendations for supporting social justice, helping community organizers & standing in solidarity w/ organizations promoting equal economic, educational + workplace opportunities.
credit: thelovelandfoundation.org

Shana’s been following activist and founder of the Loveland Foundation Rachel Cargle for years. Her story on TEDx is powerful — a lecture on unpacking white feminism.

In Their Words: “Loveland Foundation is committed to showing up for communities of color in unique and powerful ways, with a particular focus on Black women and girls. Our resources and initiatives are collaborative and they prioritize opportunity, access, validation, and healing. We are becoming the ones we’ve been waiting for.“

The Good They Do: Black women and girls deserve equal access to therapy and mental health resources. The Loveland Foundation, established by Rachel Cargle in 2018, is working to bring empowerment and healing to generations of black women and girls through fellowships, residency programs, and more.

How You Can Help: Donate, or find other ways to give.


6. GLSEN

Our recommendations for supporting social justice, helping community organizers & standing in solidarity w/ organizations promoting equal economic, educational + workplace opportunities.
credit: glsen.org

Another great TEDx that’s worth the listen: Jabari Lyles shares his story about growing up in a predominantly white community and articulates the reality of internalized racism. As a Black gay man, Lyles’ experience empowers him to relate and give back to LGBTQ+ youth as the current Director of the Maryland Chapter of GLSEN.

In their words: “GLSEN believes that every student has the right to a safe, supportive, and LGBTQ-inclusive K-12 education. We are a national network of educators, students, and local GLSEN Chapters working to make this right a reality. Our research and experience has shown that there are four major ways that schools can cultivate a safe and supportive environment for all of their students, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.”

The Good They Do: GLSEN’s mission statement kinda says it all. Schools that are supportive and most importantly safe for all students is a mission we can get behind. Their research and experience has shown that developing supportive educators, creating (or backing) comprehensive policies, making curriculum inclusive, and supporting student gender & sexuality alliances are all major ways that schools can make student life safer and more comfortable.

How You Can Help: Donate, or find other ways to get involved.


7. Sharing Excess

Our recommendations for supporting social justice, helping community organizers & standing in solidarity w/ organizations promoting equal economic, educational + workplace opportunities.
credit: www.sharingexcess.com

Founded by Drexel alum Evan Ehlers, Sharing Excess is a network of college chapters with a mission to connect food surplus from grocers, restaurants and suppliers around the city, in addition to delivering that surplus to communities experiencing food insecurity.

In their words: “Founded in Philadelphia Pennsylvania in 2018, our movement aims to address the crucial need for food by delivering regular surplus from grocers, restaurants, wholesalers, and farmers to communities experiencing food insecurity…By engaging the imagination of students, and the hearts of the people we serve, we have created a dynamic community that plays a unique role in regularly rescuing and distributing food excess to underserved areas.”

The Good They Do: In addition to bridging the gap between food waste & areas with fewer grocery resources, Sharing Excess successfully promotes civic engagement & provides daily solutions to a pervasive issue in this city.

How You Can Help: Donate, Volunteer or find other ways to get involved.


8. Equal Justice Initiative

Our recommendations for supporting social justice, helping community organizers & standing in solidarity w/ organizations promoting equal economic, educational + workplace opportunities.
credit: eji.org

The brainchild of social justice activist Bryan Stevenson — pick a podcast about racial or economic justice, and you’ll likely hear about the EJI or Stevenson being interviewed — The Equal Justice Initiative fights for criminal justice reform, racial justice and public education. They’re also the organization responsible for the The National Memorial For Peace and Justice, the country’s first memorial dedicated to the legacy of slavery and lynching in the US.

In their words: “The Equal Justice Initiative is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society… EJI is a private, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides legal representation to people who have been illegally convicted, unfairly sentenced, or abused in state jails and prisons. We challenge the death penalty and excessive punishment and we provide re-entry assistance to formerly incarcerated people.“

The Good They Do: EJI is an organization that fights for marginalized communities against racial injustice. Focusing on an end to mass incarceration, criminal justice reform & spreading education, EJI works with advocates & policy makers to address how the narrative of race in America has shaped issues of social inequality today. Their research provides necessary context to understanding & providing resources that challenge racial & economic injustice.

How You Can Help: Donate


9. Earth Justice

Our recommendations for supporting social justice, helping community organizers & standing in solidarity w/ organizations promoting equal economic, educational + workplace opportunities.
credit: earthjustice.org

The list of clients that Earth Justice represents is a long one — from The Humane Society, American Beekeeping Federation, Indigenous lands and state parks — Earth Justice is dedicated to combatting climate change and defending the natural environment.

In their words: “We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer. Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit public interest environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. Our legal work has saved irreplaceable wildlands, cleaned up the air we breathe, and fueled the rise of 100% clean energy. It has protected countless species on the brink of extinction, and secured long-overdue, historic limits on our nation’s worst polluting industries.”

The Good They Do: With a legal team ranked amongst the world’s foremost environmental strategists, Earth Justice takes the big corps. with deep pockets to court, advocating for clean air, water & energy, & protecting species from the brink of extinction. The next few years are critical in the fight against the climate crisis, & Earth Justice is providing the legal defense needed to institute policies & initiatives to protect the natural world.

How You Can Help: Donate


10. Philabundance

Our recommendations for supporting social justice, helping community organizers & standing in solidarity w/ organizations promoting equal economic, educational + workplace opportunities.
credit: philabundance.org

Philabundance is a member of Feeding America (we matched $10K in donations last December!) with the goal of distributing food, reducing waste and increasing access to nutritious meals. To support nationwide, check out Feeding America for more resources.

In their words:  “Philabundance is the largest hunger relief organization in the Delaware Valley…What started out as a small food rescue organization operating out of a Subaru, 30+ years later, is an innovative, impactful and collaborative organization distributing more than 24 million pounds of food a year to those in need.

The Good They Do: On top of creating a network of free food resources & improving accessibility to nutritious meals, the Community Kitchen offers a 16-week vocational culinary training program. They promote self-sufficiency & provide opportunities for low-income individuals to secure more opportunities.

How You Can Help: Donate, or find more ways to get involved.


11. Fair Fight Action

Our recommendations for supporting social justice, helping community organizers & standing in solidarity w/ organizations promoting equal economic, educational + workplace opportunities.
credit: fairfight.com

Founded by political superstar and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams, Fair Fight Action promotes fair elections around the country and works to ensure every American can participate in the electoral process.

In their words: “We promote fair elections around the country, encourage voter participation in elections, and educate voters about elections and their voting rights. Fair Fight Action brings awareness to the public on election reform, advocates for election reform at all levels, and engages in other voter education programs and communications.”

The good they do: Fair Fight Action organizes collective action to reverse, expose and mitigate voter suppression. They engage in voter mobilization and education activities and advocate for progressive issues, as well as support voter protection programs.

How You Can Help: Donate, volunteer or share your story.


Personally? I’m a monthly supporter of ACLU Pennsylvania, “a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to defending and protecting our individual rights and personal freedoms.” ACLU-PA advocates for communities most affected by threats to liberty & civil rights, fighting for a genuine multiracial, multicultural democracy. For over 100 years, ACLU has integrated litigation, legislative & policy advocacy to protect individual freedoms.

Step 1: Become aware. Step 2: Do a little digging. Step 3: Find opportunities to take a step forward.

That’s all for now, folks!

– Jeni

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