Alumni Spotlight: Jordyn Myers C'17

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Civic House alumna Jordyn Myers (C'17) spoke to Civic House about her experience working as Project Manager with Bread & Roses Community Fund, a non-profit focused on raising money for community-based groups.


Jordyn, who was a Civic Scholar, first became involved with Bread & Roses while interning through Civic House's Community Engagement Internship Program during her senior year at Penn. 


Jordyn later participated in the 2017 Black-led, Black-centered Giving Project, then worked to facilitate other Giving Projects, including the Immigration Justice Project and Gender Justice Project.


Giving Projects are a six-month-long process that coordinate individuals to raise money for local grassroots organizations. Giving Projects are issue-specific. Each Project consists of twenty people, all of whom participate in workshops where they confront their own background and position as a fundraiser.


Giving Projects are also POC-centered. During meetings, participants will caucus on race, holding a separate POC caucus and white caucus. If a decision needs to be made about where funding will go, POC voices are centered and prioritized in the decision-making process. Facilitators emphasize "centering, hearing, and encouraging people of color to communicate their wants, needs, and desires."


For Jordyn, the Black-led, Black-centered Project was an important experience because she experienced a culture shift from her time at Penn.


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"It was the first time I was in a space and I felt like, oh, I have permission to come as I am [and] just say what I feel," Jordyn said. "It was one of the first times [I engaged] with older Black people who were like, what you have to say is valid, I will treat you like you have a voice that is impactful and powerful."


At the end of this Giving Project, members had raised $130,000 in grants for 13 grassroots groups.


As a fundraiser for grassroots organizations, Bread & Roses attempts to interrogate its position in a wider culture of philanthropy. Often, non-profits who raise and distribute money serve as a gatekeeper, determining which groups are deserving of funding based on whether or not groups' goals align with the non profits values. As a result, groups whose mission might go against traditional values do not receive funding.


Bread & Roses aims to provide more than just monetary support for grassroots organizations. Rather than keeping organizations reliant on funding from Bread & Roses each year, Bread & Roses wants to offer assistance so organizations build the skills to fundraise from their own communities.


"We want you to call and get technical assistance, so that you actually learn how to fundraise your community, to where you're being supported by your neighbors, you're being supported by your people," Jordyn said.


There is value in approaching fundraising from a community-perspective, Jordyn explains. Communities who have been historically drained of resources, like Black and brown communities, are often disregarded in fundraising, but they still have support to offer.


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"We're still very much a part of philanthropy, we're still very much part of that gatekeeping system," Jordyn said. "But I do think that we're thinking about it differently and trying to change the institution that we're part of as a whole."


Prior to her work as a facilitator with Bread & Roses, Jordyn led workshops at Civic House for incoming students through PennCORP. While at Civic House, Jordyn learned the importance of taking a step back.


"[Civic House] shook me out of that way of engaging where I was like, I have to give as much of myself as I can," Jordyn said.


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Jordyn values her time in the Giving Projects because she views the Projects as a space for healing and community building. While facilitating the Immigration Justice Giving Project, Jordyn explored how to work as an ally for people of other marginalized identities, and how people of color can validate each other when they work together.


For students who are about to graduate, Jordyn offers the following: find space to heal.


"Find it, create it, build it, long for it, look for it. Move towards spaces where you can heal," Jordyn said.