Queer Youth Fund Grants Announced


Since 2002, the Queer Youth Fund, housed at Liberty Hill,  has made multi-year grants to organizations located in the United States working to improve the quality of life among gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (GLBTQQ) youth through innovative and effective leadership development or organizing projects or programs that empower GLBTQQ youth. The 2014 grants have recently been announced.

Queer Youth Fund 2013-2014 Grantees

Organization: API Equality-LA
Website: www.apiequalityla.org
Grant Amount: $100,000
API Equality-LA received $100,000 over three years to support a sustainable and unique model of youth leadership development that will create a new generation of bold API LGBT youth leaders and contribute to a more inclusive, accountable and sustainable movement for social justice.

Organization: Hispanic Black Gay Coalition
Website: www.hbgc-boston.org
Grant Amount: $100,000
Hispanic Black Gay Coalition received $100,000 over four years to establish and support one new gay-straight alliance annually in a local high school that primarily serves Black and Latina/o students.  HBGC will support the GSAs in creating a more inclusive environment for LGBTQ students of color.  Funds will also help sustain and expand HBGC’s annual Youth Empowerment Conference for LGBTQ youth of color under the age of 25.

Organization: Pennsylvania Student Equality Coalition
Website: www.pennsec.org
Grant Amount: $100,000
Pennsylvania Student Equality Coalition received $100,000 over four years to advance queer youth empowerment in Pennsylvania through designing a strong and inclusive leadership pipeline, securing access for youth to participate in meaningful statewide advocacy efforts regardless of financial background, centralizing youth advocacy efforts regardless of financial background, centralizing youth advocacy efforts in Harrisburg and building financial literacy training into PSEC’s leadership development to ensure the future success of the coalition.

Organization: Soulforce
Website: www.soulforce.org
Grant Amount: $100,000
Soulforce received $100,000 over three years to support The Next Generation Soulforce Equality Ride which challenges cultures and policies at the leading universities of the Religious Right that lean away from queer and racial justice.  It will work with emerging youth leaders and students living in targeted communities to host workshops and events that create dialogue about intersectional justice, fundamentalism and systemic change.  It will also provide further options to be leaders in national campaigns that build from the campus work.

A statement from two of the founding donors:

“Over the last 12 years, the Queer Youth Fund has granted $4.9 million to 49 groups supporting LGBTQQ youth in the United States and Canada.  Our dream to create strong and effective organizations that empower youth has been realized in many racially and economically diverse communities.  We are so grateful to the many activists who have worked hand in hand with our donor committee in making grant decisions and sharing their strengths and challenges so openly and honestly.  We believe our $100,000 grants payable over three to five years have enabled smaller, grassroots organizations to plan and execute their programs with great care, confidence and community involvement.  Because of the leadership and courage of our grantees, both the United States and Canada have experienced a growing consciousness in government, philanthropy, the media and local communities about the unique issues faced by LGBTQQ youth and how critical it is for communities to embrace and benefit from the leadership and involvement of their LGBTQQ youth.”


What Working on the Frontlines Looks like: Legislative Wins and Setbacks


Liberty Hill grantees have been advocating for legislation that addresses systemic injustices, often working in state and national coalitions. It is always our goal to keep our friends and partners abreast of legislative movement as it pertains to the fight on the frontlines.  Here are recent wins and setbacks:

• WIN: Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC-LA) and Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA) were among the backers of AB 1522, the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014. This new law allows most workers in California to earn up to three days of paid sick leave per year. It was signed by Governor Brown on September 10 and will help 40% of the workforce in the state, more than six million workers.
• SETBACK: Excluded from AB1522 are 350,000 In Home Support Service workers (93% of whom are women), who provide personal care for elderly and disabled people.
• WIN: Brothers, Sons, Selves, Liberty Hill’s strategic partnership with The California Endowment, won passage of the Equity is Justice Resolution by LAUSD on June 10, which will send millions of dollars to the highest-needs schools in the district.
• PROGRESS: The Clean Up Green Up campaign to establish “Green Zones” in three pilot neighborhoods of Los Angeles has moved steadily ahead in the LA Department of City Planning. This unprecedented policy to address the health impacts from toxic pollution combines land use planning with targeted technical and financial assistance to small businesses to help them “clean up and green up.” A draft ordinance is expected by the end of this year, and represents one of the City’s most important equity policies.
• WIN: Recent studies show that less than a quarter of the 60,000 young people released annually from detention were enrolled in their local schools within a month of release. Youth Justice Coalition successfully worked for passage of the “Successful Transitions for Youth” act, and now education and probation agencies are required to have transition policies to coordinate the paperwork, information and records needed for formerly incarcerated youth to enroll in school.
• WIN: LA Voice PICO’s members, who represented congregations of several faiths, lobbied successfully in Sacramento for passage of SB1010, signed by Governor Brown. This bill addresses one of the failed, racially unjust “war on drugs” policies—the huge disparity in sentencing, probation, and asset forfeiture between convictions for possession for sale of crack cocaine vs. powder cocaine.
• WIN: Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) and Pomona Economic Opportunity Center (PEOC) were among the civil rights groups that won an August 27 settlement of a suit brought on behalf of migrants who were pressured into signing “voluntary departure” (deportation) forms by Border Patrol agents who had pre-checked boxes, or had not advised migrants of their rights to legal advice or options for hearings. The settlement spells out new requirements to ensure that migrants understand the consequences of signing and are not harassed.
• WIN: Several immigration integration bills backed by Coalition for Human Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA) became law. One that’s been in the news quite a bit is SB1159 (Lara), which allows qualified individuals to obtain professional licensing regardless of immigration status. Another bill, SB1210, creates the “Dream Loan Program” for undocumented students attending a participating campus of the University of California or California State University.
• WIN: Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education (SCOPE) negotiated a commitment from the L.A. Department of Water and Power to invest $1.25 billion over the next 10 years to help ratepayers use 15% less power. This victory will help to continue to cut ties to out-of-state coal plants, lower high electricity bills, and create new jobs for low income residents.
• WIN: Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC United-LA) reached an historic agreement with the employer El Mercadito, a landmark mariachi restaurant in Boyle Heights. The accord for $220,000 in back pay and other benefits for workers has gone to the Labor Commissioner for approval.
• WIN: Coalition for Economic Survival supported AB 2222, an important affordable housing bill recently signed by Governor Brown that closes a loophole in state law that will result in the creation of more affordable housing. It also increased the affordability requirement of all low and very low income units from 30 years or longer to 55 years or longer.

• SETBACK: The 2014 Wage Theft Recovery Act, which would have made it possible for workers who had won a court claim for wage theft to put a lien on property of scofflaw bosses, failed to win passage in the California Senate in the recent legislative session.
• PROGRESS: In July, the LA City Council voted 13-0 in favor of a motion to draft a Wage Theft Ordinance to criminalize and enforce penalties on wage theft in the city of L.A., where every week, 655,000 low wage workers experience at least one wage violation such as having overtime pay withheld. Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance (KIWA) is a lead organization in this work, along with Instituto de Educación Popular del Sur de California (IDEPSCA), Pomona Economic Opportunity Center (PEOC), Restaurant Opportunity Center (ROC United-LA), Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights Los Angeles (CHIRLA), and CLEAN Carwash Campaign.

• PROGRESS: L.A. Voice PICO, Black Worker Center and All of Us or None are among the grantees in the Coalition to Ban the Box in Los Angeles pushing the L.A. Fair Chance Initiative. There was significant progress in June, when the City Council moved a proposal for a city ordinance to the next level. A Ban the Box ordinance would eliminate requirements for city job applicants to disclose criminal convictions until their job qualifications were verified, so they could have a chance to be considered, not automatically eliminated.


Two Liberty Hill Donors Affect Real Change Through Philanthropy


(From left to right) Melissa Bersofsky Rodgers, Director of Development and Alumni Relations UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs; Daniel Lee; Harold and Stephanie Bronson; VC Powe, Executive Director of External Programs UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs; Paula Litt, Secretary Community Activist Liberty Hill Board of Directors

If L.A. is a city of many centers coming together, then Harold and Stephanie Bronson are quintessential Angelenos. They put their philanthropy to work in multiple centers, thoughtfully considering the impact of each of their donations, and they also craft their own initiatives to bring people and organizations together.

As Liberty Hill supporters and donor-advised account holders, their most recent innovation has been the creation of a paid internship for a UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs graduate student to work with Liberty Hill.

“Organizations and people can learn from one another and this presented a good opportunity,” says Harold. “We met Frank Gilliam, dean of the Luskin School, at a Liberty Hill retreat. So therefore we ‘met’ the Luskin through Liberty Hill and then, kind of flipping it back, funded the internship.”

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By Crystal Shaw


Manuel Aguilar and his family and Vermont Carwash with owner Ms. Kim

Manuel Aguilar has been employed in the carwash business for 20 years, but work hasn’t always been good for him.  He’s been denied drinking water and lunch breaks and had his food thrown in the garbage by owners.  Manuel has even had his wages and tips stolen by employers who used tactics like paying him for fewer hours than he worked or denying him overtime.

Such treatment violates the California Labor Code, but car wash owners mostly ignored the section requiring them to post a bond and keep records in regards to car washer wages, hours and working conditions.

“We thought our rights and support did not exist for car wash workers,” remembers Manuel, “We were told by others that if we fought, we would lose our jobs.” But for five years, Manuel and his coworkers worked with the CLEAN Carwash Campaign and its Carwash Worker Center. In 2013, they won Assembly Bill 1387, the Carwash Worker Law, “an act to amend” sections of the Labor Code  The new law, which went into effect January 2014, increases each employer’s “bond requirement amount to $150,000, but would exempt an employer from that requirement if the employer has a collective bargaining agreement in place….” The bond exists to give workers an avenue to collect unpaid wages in the event that their wages are stolen.  Additionally, the sunset provision was removed from the law entirely.  Suddenly, the number of union car washes in Southern California has risen from three to 25 and still rising.

Manuel paints a clear picture of the conditions he was subjected to.  “I have seen many injustices done to coworkers, and to myself also.   Before we weren’t allowed to take lunch breaks; we would work ten hours and get paid only for four hours. Also, a few times the owner’s brother tried to hit me because I would request my rights.”

Manuel is married with two children.  He has supportive family and a wife who’s always stood by him even when he says there were days when he would come home bitter and angry from the treatment he was receiving at his workplace.  He knew something had to change, but he and his coworkers feared losing their jobs if they tried to fight back alone.

The CLEAN Carwash Campaign, funded by Liberty Hill, grew out of a study by the UCLA Labor Center that exposed the conditions of the carwash industry in Los Angeles.  According to Neidi Dominguez, former Strategic Campaign Coordinator, the CLEAN Carwash campaign is a coalition of leaders from many parts of the community including labor, other workers rights groups, the faith community and organizers from the environmental movement.  All mobilized to support carwasheros in Los Angeles.

AB 1387 really put power into the hands of the organized workers. But the road was long and the fight was hard.  Over the past seven years that the campaign has been active, workers and organizers have had to take as many as three trips up to Sacramento to fight for the amendments.  According to Rosemarie Molina, current Strategic Campaign Coordinator for the campaign, “Manuel was a big part of helping us get that passed.  The workers themselves were willing to go up to Sacramento, take the time out of their lives and their family life to share their story with these legislators who can make these changes. Manuel definitely led that.  Last spring we had over 35 workers go up in a two month period. We would take a car, a van, anything we could get our hands on to go up there and take advantage of the opportunity for workers to advocate for their bill.”

Today, nearly 200 workers at 23 Southern California car washes have signed collective bargaining agreements with their bosses, with more campaigns on the way at other locations.

As for Manuel, he’s not afraid anymore. He doesn’t worry about losing his job  and now receives pay for the hours that he has  worked.  With the improvements made to the Law, car wash workers have the leverage to ask for paid sick days, holiday pay and vacation time in their contracts.  In the coming years, this will be the new standard that workers are pushing for in the industry. And finally, because of the database that the law created, it is public information now which carwashes are registered or are unregistered— so the workers have been instrumental in continuing to reform the industry themselves.   According to Neidi, “From the very beginning of this campaign, Liberty Hill was at the trenches with us, funding the work that we do.”  She continued, “The courage of the workers and what they’ve done for themselves in this community shows that when you have foundations like Liberty Hill supporting those efforts, there is really real change for the future.”

Results: An industry which once employed thousands of workers who were paid only in tips is changing rapidly. Southern California car washes went from 0 to 25 unionized contracts in just three years.  Powered by Liberty Hill. 




Liberty Hill’s 2014 Fund for Change Grants


By Margarita Ramirez

This year Liberty Hill’s  Fund for Change is investing $864,000 in the most effective community organizers working on economic justice and LGBTQ justice in L.A. How do we know? For the past six months, Liberty Hill staff members and Community Funding Board members have reviewed applications, conducted site visits and interviews, and met in collaborative decision-making sessions. The total list includes 32 organizations receiving one-year grants ranging from $5,000 to $40,000 and three groups receiving their second installments of two-year grants. Six of the 2015 grant recipient groups are seed organizations. Congratulations! Liberty Hill grants are accelerating concrete social change led by the people impacted by injustice.

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An Inside Look at Liberty Hill’s Fund For Change Granting Process

By Miranda Chartoff

photo 2

Community Funding Board: (Top row left to right) Shukry Cattan, Elissa Perry, Eric Wat, Rabbi Heather Miller (Middle Row left to right) Xiomara Corpeno, Stacey Strongarone, Jacky Guerrero, Yamileth Guevara (Bottom Row left to right) Regina Freer, Jennifer Ito, Hal Barron

It’s that time of year again! Liberty Hill is in the midst of its primary competitive grantmaking program, Fund for Change. With the help of the Community Funding Board (CFB), Liberty Hill will soon decide which grassroots leaders will receive grants from the Fund for Change in 2014-2015. The CFB is a diverse group of volunteers who have organizing experience and strong perspectives around specific social issues. The CFB acts as a “think tank” to help Liberty Hill better assess the effectiveness of applicant organizations and the landscapes in which they work. The CFB plays an essential role in the five-month process of choosing which organizations to support financially.

To convene the CFB, which has been part of Liberty Hill’s grantmaking process since its founding, Liberty Hill reaches out to organizers, academics, donor-activists, and other experts representing the great diversity of Los Angeles. This year, returning members of the CFB are Regina Freer, Saul Sarabia, Stacey Strongarone, Jennifer Ito and Eric Wat. Serving for the first time are Hal Barron, Jackie Guerrero,  Shukry Cattan, Xiomara Corpeno, Yamileth Guevara, Maria Loya, Rabbi Heather Miller, and Elissa Perry.  Members commit to an orientation day, a number of site visits to applicant organizations, completion of an assessment tool for a selection of applicants, and a report-back meeting for discussion and debriefing about each potential grantee.

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Our Change LA Sponsors Make for an Amazing Event

Change LA— Liberty Hill’s party with a social-justice purpose—is quickly approaching!  Honorees Zoe Lloyd Foxley and Alexandra Suh have been announced, and the location—the Next Door Lounge, which is the coolest speakeasy in Los Angeles, is set.  But this exciting afternoon mixer could not be possible without our amazing and generous sponsors.  We wanted to recognize them, for it is because of our sponsors that we are able to raise funds for critical work investing in grassroots community leaders on the frontlines of change.

Our list of Change LA sponsors is as diverse as L.A. is itself! Everyone from longtime dedicated donors, new donors wanting to affect change, an esteemed University, a motivated foundation and a unique business committed to personal growth, have stepped up to make this year’s Change LA the best yet!

Here are the 2014 Change LA sponsors:

At the Friend level:

Abby Sher

 At the Organizer level:

Carol Biondi
Barbara Cohn
James Herr
Zuzana Riemer Landres & Shawn Landres
Leadership That Works
Barry & Paula Litt
Suzy Marks
Jon Wiener

At the Leader level:

Claremont Lincoln University
Molly Munger & Stephen English

Our Media Partners:

US Green Building Council-Los Angeles Chapter
Next Door  Lounge

One of our Leader Level sponsors shares a similar vision to that of Liberty Hill when it comes to implementing change. Claremont Lincoln University is a graduate institution that immerses students in a dynamic learning community that leverages pluralistic perspectives to promote richer thinking toward transformation. Their  mission is to put wisdom to work in the world, and their proprietary Claremont Core methodology enriches the learning experience with mindfulness, dialogue, collaboration and change, enabling students across a variety of sectors to implement change for good. www.ClaremontLincoln.org.

Jennifer Hooten, Vice President for custom learning at Claremont Lincoln University, spoke about  being a supporter of Change LA. “We are pleased to join Liberty Hill in bringing people together to honor community leaders who are at the frontlines of change,” she said J.   “As a sponsor of Change L.A., we support the advancement of social justice at all levels. It’s a key part of the university’s mission, and an integral part of our educational programming, particularly our Master of Arts in Social Impact degree program.”

Find out more about Claremont Lincoln University’s great curriculum in this informative video.

Tickets are selling fast, but it’s not too late to attend.  Click here to reserve your spot now! Online registration will close Friday at noon, while only a limited number of tickets will be available at the door.


Alexandra Suh: a Changemaker Personified

By Crystal Shaw



KIWA Executive Director, Alexandra Suh. (Photo by Pocho One)



Liberty Hill’s 2014 Wally Marks Changemaker Award honoree, Alexandra Suh, will be recognized on September 6 at our Change LA 2014 event—a casual afternoon mixer designed to let participants meet and mingle. So if you come, you’ll have a chance to meet Alexandra, and you’ll discover, as I did, that she’s a “Changemaker” personified: fearless, a believer in community, a person who stands at the forefront but realizes that it’s everyone around who will make real change come to fruition.

Alexandra is Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance’s Executive Director. After becoming ED in 2011, Alexandra got busy refocusing KIWA’s work, bringing it back to being a real nuts and bolts worker’s center for not just Korean workers, but for every immigrant worker fighting for the rights they deserve. This move makes KIWA part of L.A.’s exciting worker center movement, which is having real impact in improving conditions for low wage workers, an urgent need in L.A. where, according to a recent L.A. Times report, “Last year, average wages in Los Angeles County declined 1.9% — tying Jefferson, Ala., for 302nd place out of 334 large counties nationwide.” And the projection for the future: “More than a million jobs will be created in the region between 2010 and 2020, and nearly half will pay less than $14.35 an hour.”


You may have heard about Alexandra’s fearless leadership through the success that KIWA’s has had with the co-sponsorship of AB 2416, the Wage Theft Recovery Bill, which has recently passed the California Assembly with a vote set in the Senate this week. KIWA is also an anchor organization for the Los Angeles Wage Theft Ordinance which seeks to strengthen the city’s ability to crack down on wage theft. We talked with her to discuss the award, KIWA’s creative and stand-out rally techniques, and her broad vision for KIWA, one that stretches all the way to Korea.

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Field report from #Our Lives Matter, a youth rally for Justice for Michael Brown and Ezell Ford.


By Tamika Butler, Director of Social Change Strategies

The Brothers, Sons, Selves Coalition, a strategic partnership between Liberty Hill and The California Endowment, sponsored #Our Lives Matter, a youth-led “Teach In/Speak Out” rally for justice for Michael Brown and Ezell Ford. Here’s a report Tamika made to Liberty Hill Foundation staff shortly after the event. 

Hi all– I’m just getting home from an amazing rally and march through the streets of South LA. Brothers, Sons, Selves worked together to organize this event in a very short time window as a response to the recent killing of Ezell Ford in South LA, Mike Brown in Ferguson, and a number of other young people of color that were taken from us too soon.

It’s hard to put the day into words, but inspiring is a good start. Every group in the coalition had representatives there and this was a visual reminder of the way in which BSS uniquely brings youth to the forefront of every single thing we do AND brings together communities of young people who might not otherwise see the links between their struggles. The image of signs with Black fists raised high next to rainbow flags blowing in the wind was something of beauty and solidarity I won’t forget as it was especially meaningful to me as a queer black woman.

The young men were confident, passionate, and determined to make sure their community understood that their lives mattered. The young men repeatedly vowed that they would not become another dead youth in the street and would not be another youth of color on TV being portrayed negatively. Instead, they spoke of positivity and respecting their neighborhood, while courageously fighting for change.

It was amazing to see the young people lead chants and engage with community members who came out of stores, homes, and cars to ask what we were doing and often joining the march with us to show solidarity. The police were present for every part of the march, on motorcycle, in squad cars, on bikes, and with their helicopters. That did not deter our youth and there were no issues thanks to the volunteers who provided security from BSS member organizations.

When the young people were given a chance to “speak out” they shared stories of being undocuqueer, detained, and almost deported, of being passed from foster home to foster home and unable to get an education, and of being unable to walk in their own neighborhoods without facing police harassment.

It was fantastic to see youth from every organization speak about what BSS meant to them and how important BSS was to the action. The reality is, BSS is nothing without the young men and organizations who make the work possible and meaningful. Karen (Driscoll) and I are lucky and honored to work with them each and every day.

Thanks to everyone here for all of your support as this has been a crazy week of planning for the BSS team. To see pictures check out the BSS twitter (@BrosSonsSelves #OurLivesMatter and on Facebook. There’s also news coverage at the link below.



Major LAUSD Announcement Highlights Work Done To End School To Prison Pipeline

By Crystal Shaw

Breaking news!  Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) announced today that its School Police would no longer issue citations or subject students to arrest for most on-campus fights, petty theft and other minor offenses, but instead refer students to counseling and other services. This policy is a major step toward shutting down the school to prison pipeline and is a major victory for community organizations including longtime Liberty Hill Foundation grantee Labor Community Strategy Center. As reported in the L.A. Times, the Strategy Center’s Community Rights Campaign has been a leader in this work.


community partners

The long campaign to end discredited and punitive school discipline practices that increase the drop-out rate and push youth into the criminal justice system is not over, but with this decision, Los Angeles is again leading the way. This is a long-fought battle, but there have been young victors that we’ve met along the way, including Damien Valentine, a Strategy Center member of the Brothers, Sons, Selves Coalition, who took the LAUSD to task after suffering under discipline policies that were more harmful then helpful as pointed out in the “The School Climate Bill of Rights,” and Nabil Romero, another youth leader who worked with the LCSC to end some of LA school’s harshest truancy policies. The work of these youth leaders, community partners and countless others have lead to today’s important announcement.

For upcoming events and continued coverage on the work to end the school to prison pipeline be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.