The Laundromat Project Bed-Stuy. Photo: The Laundromat Project website.

Bed-Stuy arts nonprofit The Laundromat Project is giving $50,000 to five New York City-based grassroots cultural organizations led by people of color as part of its People-Powered Pay-it-Forward campaign.

Each of the five organizations will receive $10,000 in unrestricted funds to support their work, which uses the power of creativity to transform the lives of people of color in their communities, The Laundromat Project said. The sum is the largest single amount awarded at one time in The Laundromat Project’s history.

The five organizations are: Kelly Street Garden, W.O.W. Project, The Literary Freedom Project, BlackSpace and STooPS

The Laundromat Project Executive Director Kemi Ilesanmi said the campaign marked the first time the organization was giving money rather than raising it during the People-Powered Challenge.

“The transformative gift we received this summer, along with the move to our new home in Bed-Stuy, began a new chapter for The Laundromat Project, allowing us to reimagine how to have an even bigger impact,” Ilesanmi said.

“We hope it will do the same for our People-Powered Pay-it-Forward Award recipients, allowing them to explore new and proven ways that will best serve their communities.”  

The Laundromat Project’s annual People-Powered Challenge is traditionally a peer-to-peer fundraiser to raise funds in support of the organization’s work within its communities, but this year a significant gift from MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett allowed the organization to award donations to others rather than receive them.    

George Suttles, board chair of The Laundromat Project, said the organization’s belief was that when one artist or organization in the ecosystem becomes stronger, “there is an obligation and opportunity to ensure that those with whom we are connected are able to do the same.”

“These gifts are but a small seed of affirmation and acknowledgement of the work these grassroots organizations do every day. We also hope that celebrating their work encourages our greater community of individuals, artists, and partners to do more in helping to support and sustain their efforts,” Suttles said.

The People-Powered Pay-it-Forward Award recipients were selected by The Laundromat Project’s staff and board. Each organization was selected from a criterion that considered our past partnership, its size, operations, and alignment to The LP’s People of Color Centered Principles.   

More on the recipients below:

Kelly Street Garden 

Kelly Street Garden uses food and culture as the entry point to healing their community. The garden functions as a vehicle for addressing generational trauma which has caused many health disparities resulting from systemic racism.  

W.O.W. Project 

The W.O.W. Project is a women, non-binary, queer, trans led, community-based initiative that works to sustain ownership over Chinatown Manhattan’s future by growing, protecting and preserving Chinatown’s creative culture through arts, culture and activism.  

The Literary Freedom Project 

The Literary Freedom Project (LFP) is committed to creating spaces that help elevate cultural narratives. Their programs value the variety of histories and cultures found in the Bronx and give educators & residents places to build community and explore social engagement.  

BlackSpace 

BlackSpace bridges gaps between people, place, and power to realize racial justice with Black communities. Working on a local and national scale, they manifest justice through design and urban planning.  

STooPS 

STooPS connects the Bed-Stuy neighborhood with a big ol’ block party, classes, and opportunities for artistic expression in unconventional spaces—to make art accessible while honoring the local and valuing creators.  

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