In a first, the Sex Worker Giving Circle (SWGC) at Third Wave Fund, the first-ever sex worker-led fund housed at a U.S. foundation, has awarded a round of one-year grants to several different sex worker focused organizations. The money will be provided to the organizations over the 2019 fiscal year.
This year’s grant recipients include Collective Action for Safe Spaces, G.L.I.T.S., Support Ho(s)e, Street Youth Rise Up, The Outlaw Project, Trans Women of Color Collective, the Urban Survivors Union, UTOPIA Seattle, WeCareTN, and Women With A Vision.
In a press release, SWGC Fellow Sinnamon Love said, “We supported all kinds of projects, from healing initiatives for queer and trans Pacific Islanders at UTOPIA Seattle to safety and decriminalization efforts at Collective Action for Safe Spaces in DC to groups for rural drug users at the Urban Survivors Union in Greensboro, NC.”
Love continued, “Each one is by-and-for sex workers, because we know what works best for our own communities, and the SWGC Fellows wanted our funding priorities to reflect that.”
Funds provided by the grants will fuel several new projects for sex workers, including vital work to support trans women of color who do sex work via the Outlaw Project and WeCareTN.
Related: Should sex work be a crime?
The fund, launched by Third Wave fund in April of this year, seeks to fund a diverse range of sex worker-led groups and bring current and former sex workers into philanthropy. The SWGC itself is made up of a multiracial group of current and former sex workers, including women, trans and queer-identified people from age 21 to 54.
Even with their additional success, organizers are concerned about the current climate for sex workers in the United States, with laws like SESTA/FOSTA making it more difficult for sex workers to remain safe and well.
“Sex workers are facing increasing discrimination and violence under SESTA/FOSTA, and many are struggling to make ends meet,” said Janis Luna, a former SWGC Fellow, “which means that sex worker organizing is both more necessary and more under-funded than ever. The SWGC is a critical new funding source for sex worker movements.”
The group raised over $100,000 since April, and are continuing to raise funds for their future endeavors, such as next year’s grant cycle. You can learn more about the Sex Worker Giving Circle via the Third Wave Fund.