Who we are

The Grassroots Movements Fund is a new area of work to resource movements on the frontlines of social and environmental injustice, who are striving for justice, equity and transformative change

Our origin story

The Grassroots Movements Fund is a new area of work at the grantmaking organisation The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust. It is a pilot fund, to resource movements on the frontlines of social and environmental injustice, and who are striving for transformative change – a vision in which the systems of discrimination and domination of the present no longer exist.

The process of setting up the fund goes way back, to around 2018 where the journey begun with discussions and interviews with movement organisers and activists to understand what social movements were, how they worked, what the challenges were and what they needed. One participant described:

“transformative change can be hard to identify when it’s happening, for a long time its effects may not be very visible and then there is a sudden breakthrough, but long-term work is needed to build towards it”

JRCT’s Grassroots Movements Fund has been created to support the sustainability of that long-term movement work, and the values, aims, criteria and decision-making process have all come from what we heard movements wanted and needed. To learn more about the journey of this fund, please read Developing a Pilot Movement Fund report

Where did JRCT’s money come from?

JRCT was established as a Quaker Trust in 1904 by a donation from Joseph Rowntree. Joseph Rowntree’s wealth came from the Rowntree sweet company. JRCT was a shareholder in the Rowntree business until 1988, when the company was bought by Nestle. You can read more about the history here:
The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust - History and heritage (jrct.org.uk)

A recent investigation into the origins of the money used to set up the Trust showed that the Rowntree company bought cocoa and other goods produced by enslaved people and benefitted from the system of colonial indenture. You can read a statement, including our next steps, here:
The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust - News: Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust: Q&As on the origins of our endowment

Meet The Team

The Grassroots Movements Team has three paid staff who work part time in shared roles as Programme Managers:

jrct, grassroots movements fund, programme manager

Mumbi Nkonde

Programme Manager

Mumbi began working on the seeds of the fund in 2020, dreaming and scheming how to resource movements at a larger scale. Their role is now focused on coordinating the grants process, outreach, supporting applicants and holding relationships with grantees.

Mumbi is a project manager and community activist guided by Black feminist principles of connecting struggles and practising solidarity most recently in anti-racism movements, migrant rights organising and climate justice. They were born in Zambia, settled in London and now their immigrant spirit finds them exploring a new life in Sheffield, walking in the Peak District and learning about the history of racialised communities in South Yorkshire.

jrct, grassroots movements fund, programme manager

Sophie Pritchard

Programme Manager

Sophie works on coordinating the grants process, supporting applicants and holding relationships with grantees.

Sophie co-founded Edge Fund, a participatory, activist-led grant-maker, in 2012 and was part of setting up a local version of it in Bristol in 2019. She has been involved in grassroots groups and movements for many years, including those focusing on feminism, housing, mutual aid and self-defence. Her favourite ways to switch off are gigs and dog walks.

jrct, grassroots movements fund, programme manager

Jilna Shah

Programme Manager

Jilna works on our relationship with movement organisers and activists, through coordinating our Movement Assembly. She is also overseeing the learning and evaluation work to ensure we best learn and iterate the work of the Fund.

Jilna is a community movement and meditation facilitator and a qualified Craniosacral therapist. She’s interested in the relationship between inner healing and change and radical social change. Jilna is a proud South East Londoner and loves wild swimming, saunas and all things food-related!

The Movement Assembly

A core aim of the Grassroots Movement Fund is to redistribute power and to ensure those closest to the communities and issues we fund make the decisions about which groups get funded. In line with this, we aim to rotate around 50% of the Movement Assembly for each round, to bring in new voices and perspectives and to ensure power isn’t concentrated into one group over the long-term. We also recognise the need for continuity and appreciate the members who stay on for longer as this is a real support to newcomers and the process generally.

Bios

Bios of the Movement Assembly members: Elio Beale, Maria Delapava, Yaz Brien, Ali Tamlit, Linda Burnip, Dr. Dania Thomas, Marissa Begonia, Dom Hunter, John Pegram:

jrct, grassroots movements fund, movement assembly

Ali (he/him)

Hi everyone, I’m Ali. I’ve been involved in environmental and migrant justice campaigns with groups like Plane Stupid and End Deportations. I’m part of Resist + Renew, which is a training and facilitation collective and that’s the way I’m mostly involved in movement work these days. I live in a small village in South Wales near Bridgend with my partner and our cat. I’m into walking in the hills, playing board games and going rock climbing. :)

jrct, grassroots movements fund, movement assembly

Linda (she/her)

I am a co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) which has been opposing the attacks to disabled peoples’ human rights since 2010. We organise non-hierarchically and all do bits of many tasks. Our members and local groups are spread around the UK but I’m based in the Midlands. This picture was from a visit to unseat McVey in the Wirral.

jrct, grassroots movements fund, movement assembly

Dom (He/Him)

Living in Manchester with my partner at the minute while I do a PhD and wait for our first kid to be born. I wrote a couple of books about my experiences growing up in the criminalised working class, and founded the Class Work Project (and Lumpen Journal). Currently most of my social justice work revolves around accountability work in working class communities, and working with young men who have committed and/or survived severe interpersonal harm. I spend a disproportionate amount of time watching football, any football will do, but with a special fondness for Burnley.

jrct, grassroots movements fund, movement assembly

Yaz (they/them)

Currently based in Bristol I’ve been involved in organising around gender based violence, no borders, climate justice, queer liberation, racial justice and cooperatives for over 20 years. An ‘elder in training’ supporting activists and groups with advice, support and facilitation, often working in the grey areas trying to connect the dots between campaigns and movements.

jrct, grassroots movements fund, movement assembly

Elio (they/them)

Hi! Living in London, long term organiser with groups like SWARM and Bent Bars. Also had organising roles in London Renters Union and United Voices of the World in the last few years. I founded & run a social art & education project called Decriminalised Futures. I tend to approach understanding collective liberation struggles by understanding how the systems we are resisting work and produce exploitation. Much less involved in everything these days as I adjust to some massive changes in my health and ability since 2020. Here I am at the airport in Spain last summer because the thing I love most is the sun.

jrct, grassroots movements fund, movement assembly

Marissa (she/her)

I’m a mother of three, a domestic worker and a community organiser at The Voice of Domestic Workers (VODW), an education support group run by and for migrant domestic workers campaigning for our rights and welfare in the UK. Having met my fellow domestic workers who suffered from abuse and exploitation led me to building VODW to equip ourselves with knowledge and skills that empower us to fight against injustices, inequality and discrimination. There’s power in our voice!

jrct, grassroots movements fund, movement assembly

John (He/Him))

John is an IT Professional and community activist and the founding member of Bristol Copwatch an independent grassroots police monitoring group that has been established since March 2020. He speaks publicly about the police and criminal justice system and what alternatives to punitive punishment and incarceration could look like.He has also been involved in anti-racist campaigning for many years and believes that real change starts from the ground up. He has lived experience of institutional racism and the police and criminal justice and fights fiercely for people’s rights as a volunteer caseworker. He believes that communities deserve fair treatment and justice in the face of police misconduct and grassroots independent police monitoring is part of that picture.

jrct, grassroots movements fund, movement assembly

Dania (she/her)

My name is Dania Thomas, pronouns she/her. I am a first-generation migrant, mother of two, born in Gujarat, India and have lived and worked in the UK for 23 years. I hold a PhD in law and currently work full time in the University of Glasgow as a lecturer in Business law . My research interests include racial capitalism, the black radical tradition and financial law.I am also a founder member and currently a Director in Ubuntu Women Shelter, Glasgow . Just to make my life more complicated but infinitely more interesting I am also a trustee in Sangini, a woman’s arts group in Sunderland and a director in Playwright Studio, Scotland. I was the first Asian woman to be elected as the branch president of my local union UCU, Glasgow in 2021. In my life of 56 years my guiding truth has been June Jordan’s work. Here is an excerpt from her Poem for South African Women.

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And who will join this standing up
and the ones who stood without sweet company
will sing and sing
back into the mountains and
if necessary
even under the sea:

we are the ones we have been waiting for.