Information about Mutual Aid

What is mutual aid?

Mutual aid projects are networks of volunteers who exchange resources and services for the benefit of the community. These networks historically embody a form of activism in which community members care for one another in intentional ways aimed at dismantling systems of oppression.

What does that look like locally?

Our mutual aid resources are currently sustaining local direct action, including medical support and reparations for members the Black community.

Consider participating today by contributing monetary capital, or contact us if you have the ability to contribute goods, skills, or services.

For accessing resources, please check out our catalog of local mutual aid projects that build solidarity in our communities.

Mutual Aid vs. Charity

What’s the difference?

Characteristics of Mutual Aid ProjectsCharacteristics of Charities
open community meetingsclosed board meetings
involve participants in
high-level decision making
don’t involve participants in
high-level decision making
more organizational mobility and frequent training opportunitiesless organizational mobility and infrequent training opportunities
rotating facilitation rolesfixed managerial roles
consensus-based voting systemmajority/superiority-based
voting system
amplify the voices of
under-represented groups
suppress the voices of
under-represented groups
rely on community engagementrely on grants/philanthropy
center participantscenter donors
collect resources at the
fringes of society
collect resources at the
centers of society
give resources freelygive resources conditionally
(i.e. sobriety, immigration/legal status)
determine eligibility criteria
by self-identified need
determine eligibility criteria
by imposing label of “underprivileged”
normalize having needspathologize having needs
value participants’ self-determinationpaternalize participants
produce a sense of solidarityproduce a sense of savior-ism
assess success based on
the opinions of participants
assess success based on
the opinions of social elites
reject state-sanctioned legitimacyembrace state-sanctioned legitimacy
resist government regulationsfollow government regulations
encourage broader
mobilization and radicalization
discourage broader
mobilization and radicalization
rooted in principles of intersectionalityisolated to addressing a single population, issue, or area of policy
connected to other tacticsdisconnected from other tactics
dismantle underlying
causes of oppression
maintain underlying
causes of oppression
Source: Dean Spade

Why is mutual aid relevant to anti-oppression work?

The modes by which we conduct our resistance become the resistance itself and the ethics that we practice become the ethics of our society. As such, in order to build an anti-oppression society, we must engage in anti-oppression practices like mutual aid.

What are some historical examples of mutual aid projects?

Black Panther Party Logo
Founders Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton
Original six Black Panthers (November, 1966) Top left to right: Elbert “Big Man” Howard; Huey P. Newton (Defense Minister), Sherman Forte, Bobby Seale (Chairman). Bottom: Reggie Forte and Little Bobby Hutton (Treasurer).

The Black Panther Party

Young Lords

Young Lords members march with a sign that reads, “The Party of the Young Lords serves and protects your people.”. Iris Morales, ¡Palante, Siempre Palante!, 1996. Film.
Young Lords Logo

Further Reading