Explore. Learn. Connect.

TAKING LESSONS LEARNED INTO 2021

4/28/2021 |

As promised, we took some time to look back on a year that fundamentally challenged how we do our work. 2020 taught all of us that we can only plan so far ahead, which further strengthens Barra’s commitment to remain flexible and open to new approaches and ideas. Though it’s easy to feel like hope is on the horizon, as more people become vaccinated and greater action is being taken to combat systemic racism, we can’t forget how far we’ve come together, including the ways in which philanthropy – and Barra’s work in particular – has adapted.

FROM 2020…

  • As we move further into the year, many institutions are sharing how they responded to COVID-19 shaking the world. Our shift in grantmaking enabled grantees to continue strengthening communities throughout Greater Philadelphia and taught Barra some lessons along the way, too. In the same spirit of learning, this story reflects on our 2020 grantmaking to consider how to move forward throughout 2021 and beyond.
  • In January, we let you know we were working on a summary of our 2020 efforts to summarize what our role has been in our grantmaking and support of nonprofit partners. Please see our new webpage that highlights our responses to COVID-19 and the fight against racial injustice to-date, and more importantly, showcases the organizations on the frontlines.

…INTO 2021

  • In terms of our grantmaking, we are continuing our Recovery and Response Efforts, with the Board recently approving $50,000 to Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia’s COVID-19 Prevention & Response Fund and $200,000 to the Philadelphia Foundation’s Black Leaders/Black Communities Fund. To be more responsive to emerging and evolving needs, our Barra Awards remain on hold. We have maintained our Catalyst Fund as well and its focus on risk capital for novel approaches that have a far-reaching ripple effect. For folks who think they have an idea that could be a good fit, we encourage you to fill out a very brief LOI here.
  • For Beyond the Money, ImpactED will continue engaging our grantees’ leaders throughout the year, as they work together to think in new ways and reimagine what the future looks like, while prioritizing their work as they look toward recovery of the sector. We will also keep building on our conversations about race with a series of workshops, titled, Voice Lessons, designed to bring forward stories that reflect grantee experiences with race in their lives and in their work. Additionally, we will keep connecting our network with opportunities to problem solve and build greater racial awareness through a smaller monthly learning community facilitated by Dr. Kenneth Hardy.

As always, we thank our partners for their work and dedication to making the region a more equitable and just place for all people. We wish you a happy spring and positive thoughts as we move through 2021 to better days.

News and Highlights

2/1/2021 |

We’re sure many of you have been using January to catch your breath and think through what happened in 2020—as well as at the beginning of this year. Like you, we are reflecting on how our grantmaking adapted to a changed world, and we are thinking about what worked and what didn’t work. Soon we will be sharing a more comprehensive summary of our 2020 Recovery and Response efforts. In the meantime, we wanted to share a few updates with you and to highlight some of what we have learned from you, and with you, over this past year as we navigate a recovery from both COVID-19 and systemic racism.

  • We’re proud to announce that our board elected University City District President Matt Bergheiser as our new chairman in December. Matt’s insight and expertise in nonprofit leadership and social entrepreneurship will make us stronger and more responsive to our partners and help in moving the foundation forward. Please join us in welcoming Matt to this new role.
  • To allow for reflection on the work our grantees and partners are doing to confront structural and systemic racism, our staff created a four-part series of workshops led by internationally recognized clinician, author, trainer, and consultant Kenneth V. Hardy, Ph.D. The virtual workshops were held in October and November and had great attendance and valuable dialogue. There is a tremendous response for ongoing work with Dr. Hardy. We’ll announce what’s next in the months ahead.
  • To give grantees a chance to listen and learn from each other throughout the pandemic, we asked Philadelphia-based ImpactEd to lead the development and implementation of a survey that gathered nonprofit leaders’ opinions and insights. The results were then shared in a virtual convening  where 45 leaders were given the space to uncover more powerful approaches, creative solutions, and ideas together. The second phase of this work continues with a year-long series of learning sessions, peer community workshops, and an interactive toolkit of resources for executive directors. We will continue to share we what learn from them this year.
  • To support thoughtful approaches for incorporating elements that address social justice and reach new and diverse audiences, support was given through the Catalyst Fund to the Wilma Theater, The Bearded Ladies Cabaret, and The People’s Light and Theatre Company for projects that are testing new ways to safely present to audiences.

Read on for recent news features about how some of our past and current grantees continue to bring innovative approaches and solutions to their communities.

As we navigate this next phase of recovery, we remain committed to learning together – both in our work with you and in the region.

Recovery and Response: Round 3

12/2/2020 |

To respond to the needs of our nonprofit partners during this time of crisis, prioritize under-resourced communities and collaborate directly with colleagues and others in the region, Barra shifted our grantmaking approach to focus on recovery and response at the beginning of last summer.

For the final round of our Recovery and Response Efforts in 2020, Barra’s Board of Directors approved $620,000 of unrestricted funding in December to nonprofits and citywide efforts that serve marginalized communities by providing them with more equitable access to supports to education and health and human services throughout the pandemic. This round also included awards to economic development projects with the goal of planting some longer-term seeds for recovery, as well as a partnership aiding BIPOC-focused cultural arts nonprofits.

Through conversations with education partners, our staff learned of the need for funding access centers that give students a safe place for digital learning and other enrichment opportunities. Ten organizations and one citywide initiative were awarded $235,000 to improve access to learning supports:

  • Community Navigators
  • WHYY (Education Department)
  • Access Centers
  • Philadelphia Community Stakeholders
  • Partners for Sacred Places
  • Community YMCA of Eastern Delaware County
  • Greater Philadelphia YMCA
  • North Penn YMCA
  • YMCA of Bucks County
  • YMCA of Greater Brandywine
  • YEAH Philly

A total of $385,000 was given to 25 health and human services nonprofits and one citywide initiative that are community-based and have operating budgets less than $1.5 million. Their work centers on behavioral health/trauma, access/disparities, multilevel support, housing stability, workforce/employment and economic relief. Additionally, Barra contributed to two county funds and made several reinvestments from the second Recovery and Response round. Organizations receiving funding included:

  • The Uplift Center
  • Healing Hurt People (Drexel University)
  • La Puerta Abierta
  • New Leash on Life
  • Salvation Army New Day Drop-In Center
  • Sankofa Healing Studio
  • The Creative Resilience Collective/CRY Program
  • Black Doctor’s COVID-19 Consortium
  • Miriam Medical Clinic
  • African Family Health Organization (AFAHO)
  • Agape African Senior Center, Inc.
  • Ardella’s House
  • KITHS (Integrated and Targeted Human Services)
  • Morris Home
  • VietLead
  • Why Not Prosper
  • Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia
  • Ones Up
  • Dignity Housing
  • Potter’s House Mission
  • PAR Recycleworks
  • PowerCorpsPHL
  • Trades for a Difference
  • The Merchants Fund
  • The Foundation for Delaware County
  • Brandywine Health Foundation

We know that small, local businesses face significant challenges in today’s economy. In addition to the general operating grants made in round 3, Barra planted some longer-term seeds for economic recovery with a few multi-year Recovery and Response grants to support communities disproportionality affected by COVID-19 and systemic racism. We awarded $400,000 to three larger nonprofit projects:

  • The Greater Philadelphia Economy League (Philadelphia Anchors for Growth & Equity Procurement Prep Program)
  • The Enterprise Center (Disinfect US Coalition)
  • Community First Fund (Economic Justice Fund)

Finally, we partnered with the William Penn Foundation and the Ford Foundation to support America’s Cultural Treasures with $500,000 over five years. This funding will go toward the Greater Philadelphia region’s partnership in the America’s Cultural Treasures initiative which aims to support the long-term relief and recovery of local BIPOC-focused cultural organizations.

Our Recovery and Responses Efforts gave us an opportunity to streamline our grantmaking process, focus on efforts with at-risk communities and consult with partners. We look forward to considering this experience to further improve and evolve our future work.

Beyond the Money

12/2/2020 |

We continue to find new ways to offer resources and support to nonprofits beyond the money awarded in grants. This is especially critical during this period of uncertainty and strife, as the pandemic, civil unrest and economic volatility continue. Our goal is to include outside experts and sources that can help us connect nonprofit leaders and staff, so they can share ideas and concerns and find new ways to partner to tackle issues together. This connects to our philosophy that collaboration leads to creative ideas that can ignite or accelerate powerful approaches to solve difficult problems.

In the fall, we offered current and former grantees, as well as many of our partner organizations, the opportunity to take part in two different programs:

A Workshop Series Addressing the Unspoken Issues about Race & Racism. The glaring events of racial injustice in recent months have forced many in our nation to confront and consider the deep and abiding issues caused by structural and systemic racism. The nonprofits we work with are confronting these problems by learning through discussion.

In our efforts to continue creating opportunities for connection and reflection within our community, our staff developed a four-part series of workshops led by internationally recognized clinician, author, trainer and consultant Kenneth V. Hardy, Ph.D. The interactive workshops were designed to: get beyond polarized positions; promote honest and sustainable conversations about race; and allow participants from diverse backgrounds to learn with and from each other. The four virtual workshops were held in October and November. The workshops were widely attended and contained valuable dialogue that participants say will be extremely helpful as they continue to address racism within their workplaces and in the communities they serve.

Nonprofit Leader Convening. To help grantees understand and share the effects of ongoing and changing needs and to give them the chance to learn from each other, Barra worked with Philadelphia-based ImpactEd, to develop and implement a survey that collected nonprofit leaders’ opinions and thoughts in early September. The results were then used to develop a virtual convening later in the month where leaders were given the space to discuss their situations and ideas.

Over 60 nonprofit leaders completed the survey and 45 attended the convening. They discussed how to engage in long-term planning in a changing landscape, strive for sustainability and meaningfully involve internal and external stakeholders in shaping their work moving forward. A post-convening survey was conducted to capture leaders’ perspectives and how it may help with their planning.

Recovery and Response: Round 2

9/16/2020 |

This round of grants aligns with our approaching recovery with the lens of dual pandemics, given the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color and the necessity of addressing issues that further racial and social justice. It is our goal to prioritize those organizations that serve the most vulnerable, such as immigrants and refugees, the housing insecure, returning citizens, individuals and families facing trauma, and essential workers.

To continue our Recovery and Response Efforts, Barra’s Board of Directors approved $520,000 in September for a second round of unrestricted funding to help nonprofits as they continue to address the effects of COVID-19 and racial injustice. With the same aim as the grants awarded in June’s Round 1, we continue to try our best to achieve a funding balance of citywide and neighborhood-based organizations to have a wide reach. This September round of funding focused on two areas: (1) health and human services and (2) arts and social justice.

In the health and human services sector, 32 nonprofits were awarded a total of $395,000. The organizations fall in three categories: health (access/disparities, behavioral health, and trauma), health/human services (multi-support), and human services (housing stability, workforce/employment, civic engagement/voter access). Grantees were selected with the input of 11 individuals from foundations and nonprofits who served as impromptu “nominators” interviewed by Barra staff.

These grants also support other efforts that cross over between health and human services and center on health access/disparities, behavioral health, housing stability, employment, and civic engagement and voter access leading up to the election. The nonprofits receiving funding include:

  • Black Doctor’s COVID-19 Consortium
  • Miriam Medical Center
  • The Uplift Center
  • Healing Hurt People – Drexel University
  • La Puerta Abierta
  • New Leash on Life
  • One Day at a Time (ODAAT)
  • Salvation Army New Day Drop-In Center
  • Sankofa Healing Studio
  • The Creative Resilience Collective/CRY Program
  • Philadelphia Black Giving Circle
  • African Family Health Organization (AFAHO)
  • Agape African Senior Center, Inc.
  • Ardella’s House
  • Bebashi
  • KITHS (Integrated and Targeted Human Services)
  • Morris Home
  • VietLead
  • Why Not Prosper
  • PHL Rental Assistance Program
  • Bethesda Project
  • Dignity Housing
  • Friends Rehabilitation Housing
  • People’s Emergency Center
  • Potter’s House Mission
  • PAR Recycleworks
  • PowerCorpsPHL
  • Trades for a Difference
  • Committee of Seventy
  • Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia
  • Concilio de Organizaciones Hispanas
  • Ones Up

Additionally, a total of $125,000 was awarded to eight arts and culture organizations – three citywide and five neighborhood-based. All have been delivering programming focused on social justice and engaging the community in conversation/learning around related issues. The arts and social justice theme emerged as we researched summer enrichment efforts and through conversations with Barra directors and colleagues. The nonprofits funded include:

  • Bartram’s Gardens
  • First Person Arts
  • Mural Arts
  • Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture
  • Asian Arts Initiative
  • Spiral Q
  • Power Street Theater
  • The Village for Arts & Humanities

With the unknown trajectory of the virus, the uncertainty of federal resources, and the persistence of larger societal conflicts, we recognize the strain that all nonprofits are experiencing and applaud them for their dire work. As these challenges wear on, we know that anticipating what is next and planning ahead is daunting. We are poised to be more responsive and nimbler than ever before to promote collaboration and serve as a model to inform others’ work while the sector defines recovery.

Recovery and Response

7/21/2020 |

At the beginning of July, Barra’s Board of Directors swiftly approved $260,000 to support its Recovery and Response Efforts.  In considering how to address the needs of the sector, Barra Board and staff decided that this next phase of funding should aim to address the interconnected issues we are facing: COVID-19 and racial injustice.  After months of uncertainty and stress, communities are feeling the negative impact of the COVID-19 crisis beyond the virus itself, especially individuals and families in communities of color. Black residents, specifically, are the most affected.  The ongoing stress and impact of systemic racism continues.

We know that these next few months of summer will be critical for young people, living in under-resourced communities.  Small, independently owned businesses in historically disadvantaged communities as well as workers and families left out of federal and state relief are facing significant hardship.   Barra is providing one-time unrestricted support to both individual nonprofits and citywide efforts that aim to bolster the resilience of young people and the small businesses that are critical to our communities.

Grants totaling $210,000 to support summer enrichment efforts have been awarded to:

    • City of Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Department: Playstreets
    • Read by 4th
    • Philadelphia Youth Network
    • Philadelphia Housing Authority’s partnership with Boys & Girls Club and Mighty Writers
    • Philadelphia Zoo
    • Smith Playground
    • Tree House Books
    • Center for Black Male Educator Development
    • Horizons at Greene Street Friends
    • Girls Rock Philly
    • Youth Empowerment for Advancement Hangout (Y.E.A.H.)
    • Art Sphere
    • Centro de Cultura, Arte, Trabajo y Educación CCATE
    • Portside Art Center
    • Rock to the Future
    • University City Arts League

    In addition to summer enrichment, one-time grants were awarded to two programs through the City of Philadelphia that are giving immediate support to residents and businesses that have been disproportionately affected by the intersecting issues of COVID-19 and racial injustice.

    • Restore and Reopen Program ($50,000) will provide grants to small, independently  owned businesses in historically disadvantaged communities that have suffered loss during the recent civil unrest.
    • Philadelphia Worker Relief Fund ($25,000) provides direct cash assistance to workers and families impacted by COVID-19 who were left out of all federal and state relief with intent to address the economic impact and the health and safety of more Philadelphia families.

    We continue to try to listen to our nonprofit colleagues and partners as we all try to navigate how to move forward in these difficult times.

The COVID-19 Arts Aid PHL Fund Announces $4 Million in Grants to 467 Arts & Culture Organizations and 1,025 Artists

6/30/2020 |

June 30, 2020 (PHILADELPHIA, PA) – The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance (GPCA) today reported that $4 million from the COVID-19 Arts Aid PHL Fund has been awarded to 467 arts and culture organizations as well as 1,025 individual artists since it opened on April 13. This unprecedented collaborative effort, which was created by GPCA, the Philadelphia Cultural Fund (PCF) and the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy (OACCE) focused on supporting individual artists as well as small arts and culture organizations (Annual budgets no greater than $250,000) and mid-sized organizations (Annual budgets of $250,000 – $15M) whose operations, revenues, work and livelihood have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the full press release here

OUR Crisis

6/4/2020 |

In March, we reached out to you when the COVID-19 crisis descended upon us.  Even though we are still in the midst of addressing the negative effects of the pandemic,  today we’re reaching out again as we face another crisis that is affecting our cities and shaking  our nation to its core—and it should.   The crisis we are facing is not new, it is embedded in hundreds of years of systemic racism which we must stand up against in our personal lives and our professional roles.  (read the full message)

Barra Partners Launch Regional Fund to Support Arts & Culture Sector

4/8/2020 |

A collaborative of foundations, The City of Philadelphia and The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Fund worked together to launch the COVID-19 Arts Aid PHL Fund. The new fund will serve individual artists, as well as small and mid-sized cultural organizations that have been devastated by the pandemic.

Barra was one of the lead funders with a $250,000 contribution. The total amount raised at the launch on April 8 was $3.45 million. Donors are encouraged to give to increase the funding to address the overwhelming need in the region. Read the Philadelphia Inquirer story announcing the fund and visit the website to learn more about how to donate or apply.

The Barra Board of Directors and staff are also considering ways to address the recovery issues and longer-term needs that will arise as organizations continue to deal with the public health and economic crises.   Please read this message, which provides details about our response.

Immediate Response to the Effects of COVID-19

4/2/2020 |

The COVID-19 crisis has prompted all of us to adapt and consider new ways to face the unprecedented challenges that face all of us. To help address nonprofits’ immediate challenges, Barra is immediately dedicating $520,000 in grants to respond to the short-term needs of the region’s nonprofit organizations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Click here to read the Philadelphia Inquirer story.

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