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The Racial Equity Initiative

Funders for LGBTQ Issues – The LGBTQ Racial Equity Campaign & Regranting Initiative

Together, across deeply diverse populations, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) communities of color have organized one another to fight for systemic change, formed culturally appropriate services for their communities, infused the policy realm with their unique perspectives, cultivated artistic communities and taken on a range of social, political and economic issues that are central to resolving their marginalization and claiming their human rights.

Yet despite their value, few of the LGBTQ targeted dollars and grants awarded each year by U.S. foundations reach LGBTQ communities of color. Further, three-quarters of the foundations that fund LGBTQ issues don’t award any grants to these organizations. Without funding, these severely under-resourced groups scramble and, as the economy deteriorates, many of them risk vanishing.

To address these issues, Funders for LGBTQ Issues launched an LGBTQ Racial Equity Campaign and established a Racial Equity Regranting Initiative., a multi-year effort to support LGBTQ public foundations and community foundations to invest in building the capacity and leadership of autonomous LGBTQ people of color organizations and projects and to institutionalize policies and practices that support racial equity within their foundations.  Since the launch of the Initiative in 2008, Funders for LGBTQ Issues has granted $1,400,000 (matched 1:1 for a total of $2.8 million) to eight foundations.  They are:

1.       Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice (National)

2.       Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (Detroit, MI)

3.       Delaware Valley Legacy Fund (Philadelphia, PA)

4.       Horizons Foundation (San Francisco, CA)

5.       Liberty Hill Foundation (Los Angeles, CA)

6.       PFund Foundation (Minnesota, MN)

7.       Pride Foundation (5 Pacific Northwest states)

8.       Stonewall Community Foundation (New York City, NY)

Campaign Background

Funders for LGBTQ Issues LGBTQ Racial Equity Campaign is a multi-year initiative to create healthy grantmaking institutions that embody fairness and inclusiveness and support the leadership of LGBTQ people of color and their organizations.

Through a community-based grantmaking initiative, original research and grantmaking resources, and by increasing philanthropic awareness about the wide array of programmatic responses that can repair racial, economic and gender inequities in our communities, the campaign aims to:

1.       Increase the level of funding for LGBTQ communities of color. More specifically, it aims to ensure that at least 15 percent of total dollars that reach LGBTQ organizations and projects explicitly serves LGBTQ communities of color.

2.       Work with our country’s LGBTQ grantmakers to support LGBTQ communities of color. More specifically it seeks to increase the total number of funders supporting organizations that serve LGBTQ communities of color, as well as their level of support to LGBTQ communities of color. Further, by the end of 2010, the campaign seeks to integrate a racial equity lens into the policies and practices of more LGBTQ grantmakers.

3.       Increase the amount of funding that reaches LGBTQ people of color organizations. More specifically, it will stimulate additional dollars to autonomous LGBTQ people of color organizations so that annual giving to these groups reaches $7 million by the end of 2010—double the amount of 2007.

The LGBTQ Racial Equity Regranting Initiative

To address the realities of the broader campaign—funding disparities, leadership concerns for LGBTQ people of color organizations and their leaders, and the societal implications for our broader movements for social change—the LGBTQ Racial Equity Regranting Initiative aims to support LGBTQ people of color organizations and projects by investing in community foundations and funds around the country.

Further, to ensure that the diverse breadth of LGBTQ communities is supported in the long term, the Initiative also works to enhance the grantmaking practice of funders.

The goals and strategies of this Initiative are to:

§   Enhance relationships between foundations and LGBTQ people of color organizations. Through the course of this project, foundations have been outreaching and engaging LGBTQ people of color organizations to assess their needs and interests, draw on their wisdom and build real relationships.

§   Strengthen the institutional commitment of community foundations and funds to integrate a racial equity lens in their institutions. The foundations involved in the initiative differ considerably. Some are regional while others are local. Some have been dealing with racial justice concerns for years while others are just beginning to explore the concept. In turn, the initiative works with foundations and their unique contexts at whatever their level of understanding to better support LGBTQ racial equity.

§   Increase foundation support for LGBTQ people of color organizations and projects. The initiative provides the funding catalyst for foundations to support LGBTQ people of color organizations in their areas. Foundations have used the funding for three general purposes: grants, capacity building and leadership development.

§   Enhance the capacity and leadership of LGBTQ people of color organizations and projects at the local and regional level. As the initiative progresses, Funders for Lesbian and Gay Issues will work with foundations to evaluate how the initiative strengthens the capacity of both organizations and the leaders involved to actualize their missions and build a healthier movement.