Women for Political Change: Equitable Restructuring

Women for Political Change (WFPC) aims to will build the political power of young women, trans, and nonbinary individuals. The statewide student chapters are made up of people who identify as queer, trans, disabled, and BIPOC (Black Indigenous and People of Color).

Ongoing evolution has been a hallmark of the relatively young collective, which transitioned from a student group at the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities in 2015 into a formal nonprofit in 2018. In recent months, it has begun to change the nature of its organization.

As a typically event-oriented group, WFPC leaders struggled in 2020 to adjust to the constraints of the pandemic. In past years they hosted house parties aimed at fundraising or educating attendees about political power.

“We started the year so strong. We had this beautiful brunch in January [with] local speakers and free food. We we were able to talk about [our] work. We had a poetry performance, a panel,” says co-founder Felicia Philibert. “That’s been a hard thing to do in the pandemic, bringing people together and build[ing] meaningful relationships.”

WFPC pivoted to generate on-the-ground support with a mutual aid fund after the group saw that many nonprofits were not directly responding to its base of women, trans, and non-binary folks under the age of 30. That aid included political education, resource-sharing, fighting against possible evictions, and establishing a commitment to statewide mutual aid. “When people are fed and their kids are clothed and they have a house over their head, then [they can say] ‘Now we can organize.’ That is where we see the role — mutual aid and education, and less policy and politicians,” says co-founder Ana Mendoza-Packham.

The group announced sweeping organizational changes in October. Restructuring will transition executive directors to program directors. Its mutual aid fund will be more easily accessible.

WFPC also is eliminating its 501c4 status as a tax-deductible social welfare organization, maintaining its 501c3 status. It will invest in the power and political education of its base.

“Nonprofits are not going to house the revolution. We are very much aware of the nonprofit industrial complex. Our long-term vision is that WFPC [will] not exist in our present form,” says Philibert, who is transitioning from Education & Advocacy Director to Operations Director.

As a queer Haitian American, with a background in electoral politics, social work, and organizational development, Philibert believes in the intersectional nature of the work. “WFPC is a means to an end. As we make these transitions, our goal is to sustain the work of the revolution as a whole, and our community’s work, and not the nonprofit organization itself,” Philibert says. “We are not scared to say that we mess up sometimes and want to be in relation with folks so that we can address their needs and concerns, be real on that front, and build meaningful relationships.”

The killing of George Floyd brought attention to the organization, which raised money for its Mutual Aid Fund and the Frontlines Fund, which was for Black youth leading protests. The mutual aid fund now has a coordinator to restructure the program according to community requests, and will re-open for applications.

“The uprisings over the summer brought us a lot of visibility,” says Mendoza-Packham. “While we did play a significant role in distributing aid and resources, the uprisings didn’t happen because of us. We weren’t the catalyst of that. We just helped where we could.”

Felicia Philibert and Ana Mendoza- Packham say helping out neighbors needs to happen year-round and encourage mutual aid donations. WFPC is seeking feedback from queer Black youth, ages 16-24, on the future of its Mutual Aid Fund and the organization’s overall efforts. womenforpoliticalchange.org

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