Arcus’ Spring 2017 Grants Seek to Advance Inclusivity Across Faith Groups

April 7, 2017

The spring 2017 grant portfolio of the Arcus Foundation includes funds aimed at strengthening the backbone of the LGBT movement internationally, with seven grants reflecting efforts to do so within progressive faith movements, both in Islam and Christianity.

The Muslim Women’s Network/ Inclusive Mosque Initiative, one of a handful of LGBTQ-identified Islamic religious communities, received funding to work in partnership with the Inclusive Mosque Initiative to engage in advocacy and promote inclusive theology within the Muslim community.

Muslims for Progressive Values received support to continue challenging religiously backed homophobia through its broad-based advocacy efforts. A leading progressive Muslim organizations focused on LGBT and gender justice, the group is building a network of pro-LGBT imams and religious leaders, seeking reforms at the U.N., and supporting Muslim organizing worldwide, particularly in Southeast Asia.

Advancing LGBT inclusivity and understanding in the Islamic world is also the goal of an project led by Dr. Amina Wadud at Starr King School for the Ministry. “Islamic Primary Sources: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” an ambitious three-year effort to develop commentary on what the most influential Islamic texts say about homosexuality, with the aim of disrupting the connections between more conservative interpretations and discriminatory practices.

Pan Africa ILGA, which has grown to become an inclusive and democratic LGBT advocacy organization, received two years of funding to build its membership base, plan for a 2018 regional conference in Botswana, and advocate with the African Commission and the United Nations. The Cape Town–based Western Cape Provincial Council of Churches, a progressive voice for all Christian denominations, will use a grant to offer training and dialogue with clergy in three provinces, equipping them to speak out against the homophobia, violence, and discrimination that are rampant in their communities.

Seeking a more tolerant, less discriminatory form of Christianity, The Reformation Project, a Bible-based organization that makes the religious case for LGBT inclusion, plans to use support to reach out to millennial and older evangelicals who struggle with condemnation of homosexuality. Through conferences and trainings, it plans to advance its overall advocacy strategy.

Funding to longtime partner the National Center for Lesbian Rights will help this organization continue to build strong intersectional alliances in numerous areas of social justice, including reproductive rights and immigration reform. Reproductive rights and justiceis also a focus of the Proteus Fund’s, Rights, Faith & and Democracy Collaborative, which received funding to respond forcefully to discriminatory religious exemptions that threaten the rights of both women and LGBT people.

Past funding to BreakOUT! helped this transgender and gender-nonconforming youth-led New Orleans–based organization to organize the city’s first Trans March of Resilience and train local service providers on the needs of trans youth of color, and new funding will support its work to end the criminalization of LGBT youth. In Atlanta, funding to the Racial Justice Action Center will support the successful Solutions Not Punishment Campaign in implementing the pre-arrest diversion program that it won in 2016, to provide substance abuse, mental health, and job training support for those in need.

Also in the U.S. South, Funders for Lesbian and Gay Issues, a strategic intermediary organization, will use funding to support marginalized LGBTQ organizations, particularly through the Out in the South initiative, which addresses significant gaps for groups that address vulnerable LGBT youth, criminal justice reform, and health care disparities.

Arcus continues to support the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation of Law and Public Policy at UCLA, whose project LGBT Poverty—Identifying Pathways to Justice will use extensive survey data to study economic insecurity among LGBT people and endeavor to understand why these disparities exist.

Arcus also expanded its portfolio of mass media efforts to build knowledge and awareness of LGBT issues through support for “Sacred Passages: Journeys Between Genders,” a series of seven public radio shows produced by Faith Matters, promoting pro-LGBT messages and highlighting religious attitudes toward transgender people.

Also funded in this cycle were Akahata – Equipo de Trabajo en Sexualidades y Generos, American Indian College Fund, Astraea Foundation, Audre Lorde Project, Common Counsel Foundation, Borealis Philanthropy, Council for Global Equality, DRACHMA, Front Line—The International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, GATE-Global Action for Trans* Equality, Gender Justice League, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, Global Investigative Journalism Network, Immigration Equality, International Fellowship of Reconciliation, IREX Europe, La Red Latina Luterana Por Diversidad, MECCA Institute, Native Youth Leadership Alliance, National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, National Transgender Bar Association, Pembizo Christian Council, The New Press, Transgender Law Center, UHAI-The East African Sexual Health and Rights Initiative, Union Theological Seminary, Washington Blade Foundation, and You Can Play.