Philanthropy Friday: Bread & Roses Community Fund

Every Friday we spotlight a local LGBT nonprofit in Philadelphia. This week: Bread & Roses Community Fund, which provides grants and technical assistance to communities in the Philadelphia region that are taking collective action to bring about racial and economic justice. This includes a scholarship fund specifically for gay men pursuing higher education, the Jonathan Lax Scholarship Fund for Gay Men.

Photo by Simba Madziva

Photo by Simba Madziva

Who are you? My name is Casey Cook and I’m the executive director of Bread & Roses Community Fund. Before coming here, I was the executive director of Prevention Point Philadelphia.

When was Bread & Roses founded? In 1971 as The People’s Fund. Our first grants went to groups like the Women’s Liberation Center, Kensington People’s Press, and the Black Panther Party. In 1977, The People’s Fund became Bread & Roses Community Fund and received federal 501(c)3 status.

The organization’s shining moment, to date: A few years ago, we held a year-long visioning process to ask our community how Bread & Roses should serve local movements for change. More than 600 people participated in focus groups, interviews, and town halls, and the opinions they shared gave us a clear mandate: We need to raise more money and distribute more grants. The visioning process really affirmed the work we’ve been doing for decades; it also mapped an ambitious plan for the future. We’ve been following that plan and we’ve already been experiencing exciting growth.

Finish this sentence: If a check for $1 million found its way to my doorstep … I would first expand our Lax Scholarship eligibility to all LGBTQ students pursuing higher education. We would amplify our technical assistance and convening offerings by establishing a training institute for activists. In our grantmaking program, we would give special one-time capacity building grants to our grantees so they could invest in their organizations’ ability to make change over the long haul.

Lax committee and 2014 scholars . | Photo by Scott Drake

Lax committee and 2014 scholars . | Photo by Scott Drake

Special events coming up? The deadline for the Jonathan Lax Scholarship for Gay Men is Monday, February 2, 2015. The Lax Scholarship Fund was established in 1994 by the late entrepreneur and inventor Jonathan Lax for the purpose of encouraging gay men to obtain additional education, to aspire to positions in which they contribute to society, to be out about their sexual orientation, and to act as role models for other gay men. Please spread the word to gay men you know who are pursuing higher education.

Are there other ways I can contribute to Bread & Roses without giving money? Yes! There are many other ways to participate. The easiest way to get involved is to contribute to our community’s conversations on Facebook and Twitter. You can hear about and post jobs to our Philly Jobs for Change listserv. If you sign up for our mailing list, you’ll be invited to our community events. If you’d like to volunteer, email Maura Kelly at

How can I donate money? Thank you for considering making a gift to support real change in the Philadelphia region! You can make a tax-deductible donation online at or you can mail your donation to Bread & Roses Community Fund, The Philadelphia Building, 1315 Walnut St. Suite 1300, Philadelphia, PA 19107.

Are you a local LGBT-serving nonprofit that would like to be spotlighted in Philanthropy Friday? Email Samantha Giusti at