Last October, rapper-activist Talib Kweli helped launch the crowdfunding campaign Ferguson Defense Fund to support activists protesting in Ferguson, Missouri following the deadly shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown and subsequent non-indictment of police officer Darren Wilson. The Action Support Committee raised $112,052 – eclipsing their initial goal of $25,000 – and on Friday, the committee announced plans to allocate the funds via grants to community programs from grassroots organizations in the city. The first round of funding will begin February 13th, with more spanning throughout the fall.
"These are young men and women who have put their lives on hold to stand up for all of our freedoms," Kweli said in a statement. "The overly militarized police force in Ferguson has attempted to criminalize them by harassing and throwing them in jail for exercising their right to peaceful protest. We hope these funds help to empower."
Kweli established The Action Support Committee – a diverse group of artists, organizers and activists – to create and administer the grants. The first funding phase, totaling $48,800, will be distributed to the following programs and organizations: Jail & Bail Fund ($35,000), Artists as Tutors ($2,000), Revolutionary Reading Program ($2,000), Tech Impact Initiative ($2,000), Latino youth leadership program Juventud Raza Unida ($2,000), The Transitional Housing Program ($2,000) and Bereavement Fund ($3,800).
Of the campaign's remaining $54,000, $20,000 will benefit the Action Support Committee's Revolution School, which aims to provide training, workshops and technical assistance to local organizers. The remaining $34,000 will be dispersed via future grants for programs "committed to sustaining the recent momentum of social justice organizing." The Action Support Committee is developing a grant application process and aims to release the next wave of funding this spring.