1,000 Grant Applications and Counting: TPP’s Rock-Star Grant Advisor, Jennie Kay

by | Oct 9, 2019 | Seeds: Our Blog

Jennie Kay isn’t the type of person to give herself props. Here at The Pollination Project, however, we know she deserves them–big time.

One of the many things that make The Pollination Project unique is that the individuals and changemakers we have funded in the past make the decisions on the thousands of applications we receive each year. We recognize that the expertise lies in those doing groundbreaking work at the grassroots level, and that includes Jennie Kay. You see, this year Jennie achieved a place no other person has reached as she reviewed more than 1,000 (yes, 1,000!) applications as a TPP Grant Advisor.

Why is this such a big deal? Well, in addition to the thousand applications she’s carefully read and reviewed over the past five years–all on a volunteer basis, mind you–her dedication has afforded TPP the ability to award more grants on time and on target with our values.

As a grantee herself, Jennie knows what $1,000 can do. Back in 2013, Jennie started the Detroit Sanctuary Project with the mission of capturing photographs of every house of worship in Detroit–a project near to her heart, as a passionate proponent of inclusivity.
“I believe in connecting communities and supporting them. I want to use whatever privilege I have to make that space to let others’ voices be heard… And that’s one of the things I love most about TPP. Not only does it have a low barrier to entry, but we don’t discriminate. We work to set a stage where everyone is welcome.” Jennie says.

In addition to making a difference in the lives of grantees whose projects she’s reviewed, Jennie has been awarded ten, $1,000 Flow Fund grants from TPP. Given the fact that the advisor role is voluntary, TPP recognizes the time of these individuals by awarding them a $1,000 grant for every 100 applications reviewed. These funds open an opportunity for the advisor to identify a project of their choosing to receive the financial support to make compassionate change a reality in their community.

With her flow funds, Jennie has given financial support to worthy, but off-the-radar, projects like a Detroit-based program providing homeless people with backpacks filled with necessary living supplies and a Mobile Black History Museum.

“The flow funds allow me to say, ‘Hey, I see you, I believe in you, and this organization believes in you.’”

A self-described “networker who loves connecting people with resources,” Jennie is particularly qualified to distribute flow funds, as she has a staggeringly broad network of activists she’s connected to, gathered in part from her 15 years of serving in the Burning Man leadership community.

Despite the breadth of her good work, however, Jennie remains ever modest. “It’s not about me,” she says. “The grantees are the ones doing everything. I just want to be the nail in that staircase that allows them to safely climb the stairs, to get to that next step. I’m so excited to elevate someone and tell them their step is secure. That’s the joy.”
Reaching this uncharted territory with TPP meant that we felt called to recognize and support Jennie in a unique way. A $1,000 flow fund did not seem to meet this call and thus we granted Jennie with a $5,000 flow fund that she was able to gift to any existing grantee in our family of changemakers.

For this special flow fund, Jennie chose to gift Sec2Nd Chance Transitional Housing, a program that recognizes the lack of housing for those transitioning from jail or prison in Davidson County, North Carolina. The program assists justice-served, justice-involved individuals by empowering them to return and live in their perspective communities, targeting those persons who need transitional housing after being denied housing due to a criminal record. The grant is one steppingstone to helping Davidson County Transitional Services achieve the milestone of having the first Transitional Housing that serves justice-served individuals.
Jennie is a pioneer in the way we advise, decide, and support. We hope that with this gift, she is able to continue to do this in a way that empowers others. Thank you, Jennie!

Written by Carolyn Ashworth