Here at Mercy For Animals, we are thrilled to announce the first grantees of The People’s Fund! This pilot grant program distributes funds to Black activists working to build a compassionate plant-based food system.
In June, Mercy For Animals committed to nine actions in support of racial justice. In line with our values and our ambition to be a more antiracist organization, a key component of our commitment is to partner with and invest in Black activists and their communities. To that end, we launched The People’s Fund as a way to support Black activists whose work both reduces animal suffering and helps communities thrive. Jamie Berger, Mercy For Animals’ chief of staff, stated:
The People’s Fund grantees are leading change in their communities and beyond, and it’s an honor to support their high-impact work. I’m proud that Mercy For Animals has taken this step forward in line with our commitment to becoming a more antiracist organization. We recognize this is just the beginning, though, and there is so much more work we must do to address racism and inequity in our movement. I hope our fellow animal protection advocates will find inspiration in this program and dig deep to invest resources in Black-led organizations and projects.
The People’s Fund provides grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 (USD) to Black activists working in the U.S. animal protection movement or related movements. Meet our 15 amazing recipients and read in their own words how these grants will support their important work.
“My main focus is creating and holding a generous, joyful vegan space for Trans* and Queer Black femmes. We will be building a Black femme-focused and led QTBIPOC collective with the goal of forwarding Black Trans and Queer liberation and celebrating the indomitable brilliance of Trans* and Queer Black femmes, with a vegan and environmental justice praxis. This will be an intergenerational, multi-experiential space which pushes past common patriarchal settler-colonizer structures to embrace African ancestral ways of knowing from a diasporic lens.
“This grant also supports the work I do as an organizer with Black VegFest and the North Bronx Collective—a group of BIWOC & QBIWOC (Black Indigenous Women of Color, Queer Black Indigenous Women of Color) working with the land in the North Bronx.”
“We are raising $500,000 to end food apartheid in South Central Los Angeles, and we are now at 33 percent of our goal! These funds will help open South Central’s first full-service organic grocery and subsidize healthy vegan meals for thousands of Angelenos.
“This project will provide free and affordable produce, dry goods, prepared meals, and healthy food to the 1.3 million South Central residents living with access to only 60 grocery stores, beginning with 292,295 residents in the proposed location area.”
“Plant Based Food Share is working to eliminate food insecurity and improve the health and well-being of the diverse and underserved communities impacted by hardships due to COVID-19, poverty, and dietary racism. PBFS serves low-income, underserved urban communities who live in food deserts and includes African American, Latinx, and BlPOC children, families, elders, and domestic violence victims. We provide food boxes with organic produce, pantry essentials, and fresh baked goods and culturally relevant prepared meals. We do this work as a way to heal our communities, to inspire community, and to encourage healthy lifestyles for those that are underserved and have historically been unable to grow their own food or access healthy food.”
“The Eden Project is partnering with churches to rebuild and heal communities by growing food in low-income neighborhoods in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The project will accomplish this by creating and maintaining gardens on church land, in areas where there is a scarcity of grocery stores. Cooking classes will be offered as well, to teach the preparation of traditional foods in healthier ways and encourage the consumption of more fruits and vegetables. The Eden Project will use the funds from Mercy For Animals to purchase garden tools and food preservation equipment.”
Akisha Townsend Eaton
“These funds will be used to create educational resources that identify recent trends in local zoning decisions to allow, restrict, or regulate animal agriculture operations, community response, and the impact or likely impacts of such decisions on these communities. Special attention will be given to under-resourced and majority minority communities. A secondary objective is to identify legislative and regulatory barriers and incentives that may exist for the creation of minority-owned plant-based enterprises in order to promote best practices for establishing such new ventures.”
Learn more about Akisha here.
“My strategy is to create a collective of animal rights content creatives ranging from videographers, graphic designers, writers, etc., that will produce highly engaging stylized content and media. We will advocate for animal justice while addressing the intersecting issues and various systems of oppression that uphold animal agriculture and animal oppression. This funding will upstart and sustain our collective for a total of six to eight weeks to produce content that will be released over a three- to four-month time period.
“This will only be the beginning of ongoing content and further initiatives that will challenge the normalization of animal oppression. I’m extremely grateful to Mercy For Animals for believing in my vision to advocate for animals, and I hope this grant helps to strengthen the impact of the animal rights movement.”
“The Holistic Plant-Based Agricultural and Cooking Program (SM) is a program based in the Park Heights Community of west Baltimore City. Youth ages 5–24 will learn sustainable and compassionate agricultural practices. They will also learn how to preserve and to cook food using whole-foods plant-based lifestyle. We will cover soil, transplanting produce, composting, food waste, pickling, and cooking. We will also cover nutrition, shopping, meal planning, and cooking that allow people to know the many benefits of compassionate and sustainable eating.
“Participants will eliminate or drastically reduce the amount of animal products used. They will learn how our actions affect the earth and all of its creatures, and they will be motivated to change for the good of their health, the health of their community, the health of the planet, and the health of the animals.”
“The grant from The People’s Fund from Mercy For Animals will be used to help Black Women Farmers of LA secure our growing space for the next year, to build a greenhouse as a first step to starting a Black-owned nursery in South LA, to purchase essential tools, and to expand our doorstep produce-delivery service to vulnerable populations.
“Additionally, we will produce monthly culturally relevant social media campaigns focusing on the intersection of human health, animal liberation, and climate protection, and once we are able to gather in person, we will host quarterly events with the same focus. Without funding from The People’s Fund, it would be difficult to sustain and expand our work.”
Follow Black Women Farmers of LA on Instagram to learn more.
“A Table in the Wilderness specifically works to make plant-based foods nutritional, accessible, and affordable to all. Funds from Mercy For Animals will help us to spread the health message through its mobile Eat Better Van, bringing plant-based foods into food deserts.
“Since 2017, A Table in the Wilderness has served low-income communities in the Oklahoma City metro area through plant-based cooking demonstrations and food distribution. Our mission is to provide spiritual and physical foods to those who need it.”
“I will be offering a seven-week holistic health course for Black women, Getting Free + Embodying Liberation: The Journey Within. Each week, participants will experience a presentation on veganism, a cooking demo, and a wellness workshop. The course aims to (1) acknowledge barriers to action and provide wellness workshops to build resilience, (2) educate on the benefits of a plant-based diet and vegan lifestyle, (3) offer fun cooking demonstrations and customized meal plans to help integrate new information into daily habits and routines, and (4) inspire action and empower new advocates in the movement.”
“I am the founder of Vegan Meals that Heal, Inc. The work we do is locally focused because we want to offer consistent opportunities to underserved communities to have warm, free vegan meals each day.
“Our plans are to expand our mobile soup kitchen by having weekly pop-ups where we prepare food on-site and continue our biweekly food distribution to our unhoused neighbors. We will also continue our search for a food truck.”
“Although Afro-Vegan Society is a national organization with the goal of reaching people globally with our outreach, I also work on projects within my local community. All of my work is centered around building a healthier, kinder, more sustainable plant-based food system.
“These funds will be used for two major projects: The first is a campaign called Dairy-Free Future, which is an online campaign designed to educate people from low-income Black communities about the health impacts of consuming dairy products, the cruelty built into the dairy industry, and how to easily and affordably eliminate dairy from our diets. The second project is an online 28-day vegan pledge program that will take place during Black History Month and is designed to jump-start people’s transition to vegan living.”
“As a woman who identifies as Afro-Indigenous, my liberation work is rooted in anticolonialism and anti-imperialism. I hope to continue raising awareness regarding how Western colonialism has affected the plight of both nonhuman and human animals and how it has changed our relationship with each other and the natural world.
“With the funds I will continue to fight for animal liberation while addressing issues such as food access and lack of support which may prevent or deter some human animals from veganism. Through both organizations I hope to build community and to grow a more cohesive and inclusive animal liberation movement.
“Through Chilis on Wheels I will continue making veganism accessible to communities in need. In addition to our hot meal shares and clothing drives, we provide vegan food relief to the unhoused, families and individuals, and students with a high rate of housing and food insecurity across NYC’s most impoverished neighborhoods.
“At Vegan Activist Alliance our focus has been to raise awareness and expand our outreach to communities that are often forgotten. We seek to build alliances within the animal rights movement and across other social justice movements for the liberation of all animals. The funds will be used for food relief, educational material, campaigns, an activist training and working group, an activist mental health fund, and an outreach program.”
You can find Eloísa’s personal Instagram here.
“Our organization is 100 percent plant-based. Over the past 11 years, we have introduced more than 9,000 people to a vegan lifestyle to maintain health, protect the planet, and not harm or exploit animals. As a Black-led organization, our work provides a platform that supports and promotes an intersectional and diverse animal rights movement invested in decolonizing the food system.
“Our funds will go to support the creation of our teaching lab at Cherry Street farm. We are building food systems that are equitable, healthy, and empowering by bringing the community together through good food and exploring global food culture—which has abundant ways to use locally grown food.”
“Thank you for your generous support! This grant goes a long way in reaching our 2021 goals to meet MORE people where they are on their journey towards becoming plant-based and vegan.
“Since 2014, the Black Vegetarian Society of Maryland’s mission has been to educate the public, particularly African American and Latinx communities, on the benefits of a plant-based diet with the focus on building a strong community around healthy, accessible, and sustainable food as well as adopting a more compassionate lifestyle. We meet people where they are on their journey and assist them, nonjudgmentally, with their ongoing efforts towards veganism.”
Learn more about the Black Vegetarian Society of Maryland (BVSMD)!
In addition to celebrating our grant recipients, we would like to extend our deepest gratitude to A Well-Fed World for their generous offer of fiscal sponsorship to several recipients. Their partnership made this possible!
As an organization, we are honored to support the efforts of these incredible activists. If you or someone you know is interested in applying for a grant through The People’s Fund, please stay tuned for updates by signing up for our newsletter and following Mercy For Animals on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.