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TJFP’s Community Grantmaking Fellowship Model

Every year TJFP staff and our incredible grantmaking coordination team work extremely hard to prepare and support our beloved facilitation team as well as a new group of six community grantmaking fellows. These fellows are hand selected by TJFP to thoughtfully review every application, select grantees, and award amounts. TJFP fellows are an intentionally assembled group of trans, gender non-conforming (tgnc), and non binary activists and organizers who are geographically diverse, intergenerational, multi-ability, multi-racial group of thoughtful and strategic individuals that rotate each year to ensure a variety of experience and participation in the TJFP funding process.

2014 Community Grantmaking Panel

(L to R starting from the back row): Andrea Jenkins, Nico Amador, Gabriel Foster, English Fields, Karen Pitelman, Chriss Sneed, Sebastian Margaret, Cecilia Chung, Sunny Dakota Spencer, Elissa Marcelle

 

TJFP staff and facilitators do not select grantees, rather, we see it as our role to support the grantmaking fellows in their decision making process. Assembling and coordinating a funding panel can take quite a bit of behind the scenes magic, but always results in a moving and invaluable experience for everyone involved! It is an honor to work with some of the most talented, devoted, and passionate trans justice leaders and organizers out there.

Having those who are “most affected” at the center of our grant decision-making process is the heartbeat of TJFP. This deliberate act of shifting power, giving those most impacted seats at the funding table is not historically practiced within traditional philanthropy and grantmaking. At TJFP, this is not a radical notion-it is a commitment, a political practice, our love language and entirely like the right thing to do! TJFP grantmaking fellows are the people on the “front lines”. They are the experts of their own lives and experiences as trans, tgnc and non binary people and organizers, making them the most qualified to make funding decisions with and for their communities.

Why a Fellowship?

Participating as a TJFP grantmaking fellow requires a tremendous amount of intuition, time, commitment, discipline and care. A large part of our community-led grantmaking process involves sharing knowledge, growing skills, asking questions and engaging in sometimes difficult conversations while staying commitment to a common goal, resourcing our communities. What we found with the fellowship model is that even though our fellows may have started off as strangers, a certain amount of trust and respect must be built with one another and rather quickly. Most of the people at our funding table have never been invited to make such weighty decisions about moving money to trans communities. This can be an extremely stressful and emotional experience, but also one that is incredibly meaningful.

Each year our grantmaking fellows are required to read and be prepared to discuss hundreds of applications in detail. They are trained to use an online voting system, participate in ongoing check-in’s (individually and as a group,) assist in outreach and fundraising, and are brought to New York for a facilitated weekend-long meeting or virtually to select grantees using an intersectional and anti-oppressive framework.

2020 Community Grantmaking team, TJFP staff and grantmaking panel coordinating team

(L to R starting from the top row: Cathy Kapua, Marin Watts, Demian Yoon, V Varun Chaudhry, Nico Amador, Gabriel Foster, Zakia McKensey, Cristina Herrera, Karen Pittelman, Emmett Schelling, Nicole Fernandes, Christopher J. Cuevas, Kayla Gore, Agaiotupu Viena, nathaniel gonzalez

2015 Grantmaking Panel and Team

(L to R starting from the top row): Karen Pittelman, Andrea Jenkins, Ruby Corado, Colin Kennedy Donovan, Trudie Jackson, Mel Goodwin, Gabriel Foster, Nico Amador, M'Bwende Anderson, Marin Watts

Participating as a TJFP grantmaking fellow requires a tremendous amount of intuition, time, commitment, discipline and care. A large part of our community-led grantmaking process involves sharing knowledge, growing skills, asking questions and engaging in sometimes difficult conversations while staying commitment to a common goal, resourcing our communities. What we found with the fellowship model is that even though our fellows may have started off as strangers, a certain amount of trust and respect must be built with one another and rather quickly. Most of the people at our funding table have never been invited to make such weighty decisions about moving money to trans communities. This can be an extremely stressful and emotional experience, but also one that is incredibly meaningful.

Each year our grantmaking fellows are required to read and be prepared to discuss hundreds of applications in detail. They are trained to use an online voting system, participate in ongoing check-in’s (individually and as a group,) assist in outreach and fundraising, and are brought to New York for a facilitated weekend-long meeting or virtually to select grantees using an intersectional and anti-oppressive framework.

Being a grantee and then being a fellow… it was educational, it was enlightening, it just gave me a whole new sense of purpose. Because I could never have imagined all of these people… all over the country, doing amazing work to support people who look like me. And giving away that money was just exhilarating… I just don’t think I could hever feel the way I felt that weekend.

Zakia McKensey former TJFP grantee, 2019 TJFP Community Grantmaking Fellow and TJFP Grantmaking Panel facilitator

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So much more is possible when we collectively pool our love and resources together to show up for our communities who fight on behalf of all of us. Whether it's one dollar or a million, every dollar counts! We invite you to join us in supporting the community-led solutions we wish to see, today and into the future