On this episode of WTF California, I chat with Nina Carter of the non-profit Bonafide Sisterhood and the raw deal she received from the City of Antioch. I am joined by Attorney Amy Hilton as we go through what transpired and documentation showcased Antioch did not operate in good faith. Once Carter pulled her grant application, at the request of Antioch to come work with them, after getting $1.7 million in CalVIP program to help prevent community violence, Antioch led Carter and her organization down a hamster wheel of conversation never leading anywhere and eventually shut her out of the $693k she would have received in their portion of the grant.
Meanwhile, with lack of funding now coming in, Bonafide Sisterhood has had to give up their office space and is now working remote. Carter says Antioch is not serious about violence prevention and says they are a reactionary city, not proactive when it comes to violence.
- 00:00 – Intro
- 01:21 – Who is Bonafide Sisterhood and what they do.
- 15:20 – We peel back the onion of what transpired.
- 18:50 – Carter says Antioch asked her to partner with them on CalVIP grant
- 21:50 – Carter says she helped Antioch draft their grant including giving them her original grant plus seeking out two other groups.
- 22:30 – in June, Antioch got notice the grant was approved and in July they solidified it and promoted it in newspaper that Antioch has a grant for violence prevention. Then communication stopped.
- 23:40 – Carter says Antioch began to give her runaround on next steps.
- 28:07 – CalVIP even says they need to put Bonafide Sisterhood into contract. Says she believes grant work should have began in July.
- 30:00 – Antioch finally says become a sub-contractor or opt out. Antioch also did not include them in opportunity for new grants and Antioch awarded them to groups they felt deserved them.
- 34:00 – Carter says lack of support of councilwoman Monica Wilson might have played a role in being opted out of grant.
- 39:30 – A quick overview of the timeline.
- 42:20 – Carter highlights how Antioch is a reactive city when it comes to violence prevention. Only spend money after someone is dead, not in front of the situations to prevent violence and provide resources.
- 44:30 – Don’t defund the police says Carter. She doesn’t work for the police, but she works with them as trusted individual. She works to empower high needs community.
- 46:20 – It appears Carter put community first and was punished for it as Hilton explains from a legal standpoint.
- 49:50 – Hilton asks Carter what she thinks went wrong.
- 51:30 – Carter highlights Antioch is not addressing sex trafficking and just because someone is not a “resident” doesn’t mean they don’t live here.
- 53:15 – Carter says she refuses to let people think Antioch is safe when its not.
- 59:07 – Carter offers thoughts on Torres-Walker and Monica Wilson.
- 1:00:00 – how do we get Bonafide Sisterhood back into a building to do the work.
- 1:03:00 – Hilton says reading emails it seems like it was a hamster wheel conversation
- 1:04:30 – Carter says community needs to step up to minimize power of the city leadership. City doesn’t want to hear from the community.
- 1:07:50 – how to get in touch with Nina Carter
The following is an open letter written on November 15:
Subject: Official Statement
I want this post to be as loud as the City of Antioch’s announcement was when we collaborated.
In the last ten years, Bonafide Sisterhood has worked tirelessly in Antioch. Our organization provides grief counseling, leads sister circles, and offers financial support for families that are victims of homicide to pay for funeral and burial costs. We connect victims of domestic violence with advocates, facilitate life coaching for women, help our youth through conflict mediation, and run workshops to teach skills for entrepreneurship. I am enthusiastic about being a Violence Interrupter, which means preventing violence through community advocacy and opportunities. My expertise and knowledge come from lived experience and working for a non-profit in Oakland, where I am the Senior Violence Interrupter. My work in this career has also given me insight into the CalVIP program, a grant offered by the Board of State and Community Corrections to provide funding for cities and community-based organizations to reduce violence in the city and adjacent areas.
In January, I applied for a CalVIP grant of $155,000 for Bonafide Sisterhood to fund the Neighborhood Hero Project. Instead of completing the grant application on my own, I was asked by a friend/advocate from Moms Demand Action and a City Councilperson to revoke my application and reapply to collaborate with the City of Antioch. I agreed and rewrote a grant proposal. In July, Antioch was informed it was awarded $1.7 million, and Bonafide Sisterhood would be a key-partner agency/subgrantee and receive $693,000. I received the official award letter on August 10th and only after multiple emails requesting it to serve as confirmation of my portion of the grant to keep my organization operational while awaiting the next steps.
Since the award announcement, Bonafide Sisterhood had been working to deliver what we promised in the initial grant proposal since we had no direction from the City of Antioch. This is in addition to being called by both the Antioch Police Department and the City of Antioch for follow-up on homicides. In early August, we began to feel that communication with the newly formed Department of Public Safety and Community Resources was lacking as we were hearing about grant opportunities that were being shared by the department with other organizations except for Bonafide Sisterhood. We made our financial hardships known and were promised assistance through grant referrals. It was during our first meeting with the department’s new Director on September 9th, that we were told that none of the work we had been doing (from the grant term’s start of July 1st through present day) could nor would be eligible for invoicing until a sub-grantee contract was in place. When we asked the City for the subgrantee contract by October 1st, we were told that could not happen until the grantee contract with BSCC was in place. That contract was finalized on September 16th. When we inquired about the draft sub-grantee contract to review during our second meeting with the CRPS Director on October 13th, we were told that it was with the City Attorney. There was no response to our third request on November 2nd.
Throughout this process, Bonafide Sisterhood Inc consulted several CalVIP Grantee organizations to better understand the workings of this opportunity and our understanding is that something is not right with how the City of Antioch is choosing to implement this grant. When we continued to be in doubt, we even reached out to BSCC who referred us back to the City of Antioch.
Suddenly on November 10th, the City of Antioch rescinded its partnership and decided it would not give any financial support to Bonafide Sisterhood and that our services are no longer needed in Antioch. After securing these grant funds using the only organization in Antioch (Bonafide Sisterhood Inc) providing violence prevention and intervention work to shootings/homicide victims, mediation of conflicts and support for high-needs families in Antioch, the newly approved City Manager decided to revisit the contract. His decision also happens to be hours after our shared attendance at the MISSION POSSIBLE: Violence Prevention Conference in Pleasant Hill. If Bonafide Sisterhood Inc did not meet the eligibility as a sub-grantee for this grant, then why did the City Manager sign the Grantee contract with BSCC on September 16th? Our position had not changed from that initial meeting on September 9th. How do they explain not determining this before signing that contract? We cannot ignore the fact that as we worked to hold the City of Antioch accountable for what it promised, our organization is not fit for this collaboration
I have been doing this work out of my pocket for the last ten years in Antioch. My first reaction was to get mad because I felt used. My second reaction was laughter because of the people overseeing the project. The sad part is that people do not understand God called me to this work, which is his battle, not mine. In my experience in this work, I concluded that unethical people in the city government need to be more serious about finding a solution and not create division.
As a community activist, I stayed away from the politics that could be associated with work and never pursued grant funding. I utilize my own resources to fund my nonprofit. Now the City is trying to use that against me and disqualify me from receiving the grant. I have been receiving mistreatment across the board because my focus has always been on saving lives through violence prevention. When you do this work without a support system, people take advantage of you. The current situation opens the door for a bigger fight, and I have never been scared to be the person that goes against systems that retraumatize the communities I serve.
Therefore, voting is necessary, a city without extraordinary leadership lack’s structure.
The nerve of people, if we do not see what they are trying to do to me as a red flag, Maybe I am on the wrong side of this business.
If anyone wants to donate, please visit this GoFundMe https://gofund.me/a93ecb77