Written by Aimie Kawai in collaboration with Brianna Jones and AAoC
The Alphabet Alliance of Color (AAoC) is an organizing alliance founded in 2017 to provide support for Queer and Trans Black, Indigenous, and people of color (QTBIPOC) in the Puget Sound region. Founded by QTBIPOC organizers who were increasingly facing racism at white-led LGBTQ+ nonprofits, the organization creates space for QTBIPOC community members to come together for support, and pursues visions of interconnected networks of individuals who challenge and tear down the current norms and systems.
“Part of the idea of what we’re doing is being able to surface what’s going on in different parts of our communities, and support each other across our organizations. We often times see ourselves as making those connections, and being able to draw out where the resources and needs are and make those things match up, and also fill gaps when needed” explained Karissa. Karissa and Fox (co-Executive Directors of AAoC) refer to the organization as the “connective tissue” that brings people and movements together to change the culture of our government and nonprofit jobs. Their values and programs all align with this mission — creating community, promoting healing and communication, and shaping policy work. The core alliance that makes up AAoC gets together on a monthly basis for General Alliance meetings for community building and skill sharing; and programs like their monthly Policy Lunch and Learns gives a chance for QTBIPOC folks to speak directly to the policymakers and officials writing legislation/policy that affects their community.
At Communities Rise, we have the opportunity to work more closely with Karissa and Fox through the 2022 Capacity Building Cohort. Through the cohort this year, AAoC is focusing on building up their internal development in alignment with their values. They have recently transitioned to RVC’s fiscal sponsorship program and are working to reestablish their core team advising board and develop a stronger financial system. During COVID, they focused heavily on providing emergency grants and stipends directly to community members for COVID relief, and they realize that this continues to be an important area of work. Keeping money in the community and providing assistance for acute needs is crucial, and part of that means finding means to continue offering this beyond COVID emergency funds.
It was an honor to sit down with AAoC to hear more about their work. With all of the work Karissa and Fox hold, they move forward with these questions at the forefront: what does it mean to actually serve and center community amidst the pressures of being a nonprofit in the NPIC? How do we do this work? In each moment, in each day, and in our broader goals? After our lunch with AAoC, it’s clear that these questions and the discussions they inspire are essential reflections for creating a reality rooted in the needs and dreams of our communities.
If you want to learn more about AAoC or get involved with their upcoming work, check out their website here. You can also join them in their upcoming fall workshop series with Everyday Medicine about queering transformative life skills, supported by mycelial networks, trees, crystals, plants, and constellations!
If you want to find out more about our Capacity Building cohorts and other opportunities for community-driven spaces, learn more here.