Vote gathering outside of Dance Mission Theater. Photo courtesy of Jenni Olson.

In a year of financial uncertainty, Dance Mission Theater got some unexpected good news this week: the nonprofit arts organization won a $10,000 grant from the Women’s Foundation of California.

Their nomination for the grant, which is awarded annually for organizations “making a life-changing difference for women and families,” came as a bit of surprise. A parent of a Dance Mission Student had nominated the nonprofit for its low-cost educational programing for women and girls.

In a twist from previous year’s awards, the Women’s Foundation announced it would grant the money to whichever nominated organization got the most votes in an online poll. So, the campaign began.

“Six days straight we were out in the sidewalk in front of Dance Mission Theater,” said Lynda Pace, a staffer at Dance Mission working on the organization’s ongoing fundraising efforts. “We were there with laptops, and even used ironing boards when there weren’t enough tables, and so many people walking by told us how much Dance Mission meant to them.”

The passionate campaign staff consisted of many young women and parents of the Dance Mission community, hounding anyone who walked by to vote. By close of day Monday, they took the lead and $10,000 was theirs.

Dance Mission’s artistic director Krissy Keefer explained that much of the campaign was spearheaded by students and parent’s of the arts organization’s education program Grrrl Brigade, a multicultural feminist infused arts program for women and girls.

“We are concerned about social justice and the elevation of the role of women and girls to create a more human society,” wrote Keefer in an email to Mission Local. “This feels at times like an uphill battle. But today with the support of the Women’s Foundation and, all the parents mostly the mothers and girls, we feel a better world is possible!”

Pace said that this money will greatly help the organization pay to stay open and “takes a little bit of pressure off” a fundraiser they’re hosting on April 11.

Tabling for the nonprofit was an eye-opening experience for Pace,, explaining that she could see up close how Dance Mission mattered to neighborhood people passing by.

“I had moms in tears saying ‘Dance Mission is second home for my daughter,’” she said.

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Daniel Hirsch is a freelance writer who has been living in the Mission since 2009. When he's not contributing to Mission Local, he's writing plays, working as an extra for HBO, and/or walking to the top of Bernal Hill.

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