Request for Concepts: United States LGBTQ Social Justice

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  1. Introduction

  2. Founded in 2000, the Arcus Foundation is dedicated to the idea that people can live in harmony with one another and the natural world. Arcus’ work is based on the belief that respect for diversity among peoples and in nature is essential to a positive future for our planet and all its inhabitants.

    We are pleased to issue this open call for concepts to support U.S. LGBTQ social justice work. We hope the open call will improve access to Arcus funding, not only for current and past grantees, but also for groups that have had no previous connection with Arcus. We believe this approach provides greater clarity and transparency about the Arcus strategy and grantmaking decisions, resulting in more focused and long-term funding and collaboration. Organizations have the flexibility to apply in partnership with one another for joint projects, to propose multi-state regranting for work in Arcus geographic priority areas, or for regional or national work that will have an impact in priority areas.1


    December 3, 2018 RFC published
    January 22, 2019 Deadline for Concepts
    March 6, 2019 Preselection notification: selected applicants will be invited to submit a full proposal. Internal assessments and decisions will be made by the Arcus Social Justice staff team.
    June 2019 Final Decisions

    We aim to work with the applicant’s timeline and ask that applicants base proposed grant timelines on their existing Arcus grant periods, where applicable; project cycles; or fiscal years.

  3. Arcus Foundation Social Justice Program

  4. The ultimate goal of Arcus’ Social Justice Program is to achieve dignity, safety, inclusion, and opportunity for LGBTQ people (i.e., people discriminated against based on actual or perceived Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity, also referred to as SOGI) in the U.S. and around the world, especially those most marginalized. While not specifically noted in “LGBTQ,” support for intersex populations can be included in concepts under this call.

    The specific goal areas of the Arcus Social Justice Program are the following:

    1. Increased safety in lived realities of LGBTQ people;
    2. Increased LGBTQ-affirming protections that promote full inclusion and equal opportunity; and,
    3. Increased social inclusion of and public support for LGBTQ people.

    (These goals are addressed here and in more detail further below in section V, specific to the context of this RFC and its geographic focus.)

    We have determined that, to achieve the greatest impact with the limited funds available, our U.S. grants will support work in the southern tier of the U.S. Within this large region, we have identified the following priority states and one region within a state:

    • Arizona
    • Central Valley, California
    • Florida
    • Georgia
    • New Mexico
    • North Carolina

    Concepts can include one or more of these geographies. Intermediaries, joint partner projects, and regional/national organizations can propose work that focuses in these geographies yet is inclusive of non-focal states.

    Concepts can include one or more focal countries or regions. Intermediaries, joint partner projects, and regional organizations can also propose work within the regions that include non-focal countries, as long as at least one focus country is included.

    More information about the Arcus Foundation Social Justice Strategy is available here.

  5. Overarching Funding Priorities

  6. Our experience and the movement organizations we’ve funded over the years have taught us that the following approaches are key to advancing social change and justice. While we are not expecting every applicant to utilize all of these approaches, we will be looking for concepts that embody a few or more of them. Our focus is on selecting a mix of grantees who are working across our broad goals in ways that reflect the following priorities:

    • Self-determination: efforts led by and for the communities they serve that advance solution agendas informed by those most affected by the problem(s).
    • Authentic inclusion and leadership of marginalized communities2 in organizations. This includes, but is not limited to, staff leadership, decision-making power and Board representation.
    • National/Regional applicants with demonstrated authentic partnerships in the focal states identified in the concept
    • Cross-sector or cross-movement alliances working towards one or more of Arcus’ goals.
    • Initiatives led by faith, trans, and other groups with less access to resources and who are often marginalized within LGBTQ communities.
    • Work that increases the political power of constituencies to influence change through civic engagement and democratic participation, especially among those reflecting the “New American Majority,” broadly defined as communities of color, young people and women.
    • Cross-sector or cross-movement alliances working towards one or more of Arcus’ goals.

  7. Guiding Principles

    • Arcus aims to, over time, build a core group of long-term partnerships via multi-year grants.
    • We have a strong commitment to racial, gender, and economic justice.
    • We prioritize work that is by and for communities pushed to the margins.
    • We prioritize work reflective of movement building for structural change; goals may be long-term and inclusive of shorter-term objectives.
    • We will consider grants up to $200,000 per year, for a maximum of two years. We expect to award up to 30 grants, totaling over $7 million over the next two years through this open call. The final docket will include a mix of one and two-year grants, depending on the response to this open call and our budget constraints.
    • When possible, we intend to provide general operating support to organizations whose core work (not projects) advances one or more of the Arcus social justice goals within our geographic priorities. Intermediaries, national organizations or other groups not based in geographic priority areas may more likely receive project support. Applicants should apply for project or general support based on an assessment of their level of focus and impact in our geographic priority areas.

  8. Work We Seek to Support

  9. We seek to support the following work aimed at achieving impact in the focal states within each of the Foundation’s three goal areas:

    1. Increased safety: An increase in safety and reduction in violence for LGBTQ people.

    2. Core focus: Supporting a movement that can create strong public education and advocacy campaigns to build support for safe and inclusive LGBTQ communities; document rates and acts of violence; and build partnerships to advocate for identified government and/or community-based and led interventions. Strategies can include but are not limited to:

      • Documenting, disaggregating and/or analyzing data on violence directed at LGBTQ populations, including state-connected and private-actor violence, and reporting discrimination to raise awareness and accountability; with attention paid to vulnerable groups, such as trans people and immigrants.
      • Advocacy campaigns against violence, utilizing tools such as direct action organizing, advocacy or litigation in alliance with other movements, including those grounded in faith communities.

    3. Increased protections and policies: The growth and expansion of pro-LGBTQ legislation, jurisprudence, and government policies; and a reduction in laws and policies that curtail the rights of LGBTQ people or penalize/criminalize SOGI identities.

      Core focus: supporting a movement that can strategize, pursue, and assess long-term legal and policy change efforts that improve the lives of LGBTQ people, especially those who are deeply marginalized. Strategies can include, but are not limited to:

      • Advancing sustainable legal and policy advocacy by and for marginalized communities.
      • Base-building that authentically engages, activates and builds the political power of LGBTQ people, communities of color and other segments of the “New American Majority.”
      • Training, deploying, and advancing the public voices of both faith and secular leaders who can advocate for specific legal cases, in opposition to the curtailment of existing rights (including so-called “religious exemptions”), or for inclusive law and policy in general.
      • Public education tactics and campaigns that serve to build bases and inclusion.

    4. Social Inclusion and Acceptance: Increased rates of public acceptance and greater degrees of social inclusion of LGBTQ people.

      Core focus: supporting a movement that can document and influence rates of acceptance; build collective faith and secular voices to advocate for inclusion; and build and coordinate long-term strategies to strengthen inclusion, especially of those most marginalized. Strategies can include, but are not limited to:

      • Generating, disaggregating, and analyzing data on rates of public opinion/acceptance; building mid- and long-term strategies that incorporate such analysis.
      • Faith leaders and other faith voices that speak compellingly about faith as a rationale for inclusion.
      • Messaging and related media efforts to build support for LGBTQ inclusion including:
        • Tracking and analyzing media representation; engaging/training media on representation, with an emphasis on those most marginalized, and
        • Utilization of various media forms to increase positive and powerful representation and narratives of LGBTQ people; these may include social media, print, video, television and other forms relevant to applicant target audiences.

    Arcus considers these three goal areas to be interrelated in the realization of justice for LGBTQ people and will accept concepts addressing one, two, or all three areas. Applicants should explain the interconnections specific to their request and articulate the baseline, desired impact, and indicators for measuring their proposed work. Please avoid detailed descriptions of potential activities and focus instead on the desired outcomes and how they will be achieved.

  10. Application Guidance

  11. Concept Content

    In addition to the standard information we require of all applicants via our online application system, please ensure the following are part of your response to this open call:

    1. Start and end date of the requested funding, and the factors considered in proposing these dates (e.g., to coincide with fiscal year, to continue an existing project based on its end date).
    2. Description of experience (and that of a partner, where applicable) in the proposed work area, including staff experience, number of years engaged in relevant work, and most important achievements to date.
    3. The concept’s relevance to the Funding Priorities set forth in Section III above.
    4. Description of the institutional governance structure, including Board membership and, where applicable, how grantmaking decisions would be made or project partners would be funded.
    5. Link to and impact in geographic priority areas.

    Eligibility Criteria

    Successful applicants will meet all the following threshold criteria:

    1. Nonprofit status: Organizations seeking support must be nonprofit, tax-exempt per the guidelines set forth by the IRS with proper 501(c)(3) status or must apply under the auspices of a fiscal sponsor with such status.
    2. Type of Organization: Applicants may be organizations that (1) use Arcus funds to directly impact and improve the lives of LGBTQ people in our focal countries or (2) operate as a grantmaker (i.e., intermediaries) that seeks to redistribute Arcus’ and other funds through open or targeted calls for proposals, in alignment with specific strategies that would advance their missions. Arcus especially seeks to support indigenous grantmakers who are part of and accountable to their communities, and who have relevant expertise to assess and support their grantees’ work at the local level.
    3. Experience: A degree of some organizational track record, relationships and reputation (even if smaller, young or emerging).
    4. Equal Employment Opportunity Policy: All applicants must have a Board-approved internal Equal Employment Opportunity policy that specifically includes sexual orientation and gender identity among the nondiscrimination grounds (i.e., protected categories).3
    5. Joint concepts of two or more groups are eligible. While funding will be awarded to a single legal entity, we will consider concepts with pre-identified partners and budgets, and which present a rationale for the joint concept and the distinct contribution of each partner.
    6. Current and past Arcus grantees may apply, as well as first-time applicants with whom Arcus has not had a previous relationship.
    7. An organization may apply only once under this RFC, whether on its own or in partnership.

    Questions about this RFC

    Send any questions to by January 17, 2019. We will aim to respond in two business days. If you do not receive a response within two business days, please check that we have received your message.

    1Multiple organizations can submit one application together as a single project, however, for grants management purposes, only one group within the partnership can be responsible for receiving and administering the funds. Partners should develop the Concept jointly and be completely transparent with one another. Joint projects can span multiple countries, as long as they fall within Arcus focus regions and include a focus country.

    2We define “marginalized” (or those “pushed to the margins”) as LGBTQ people who have traditionally had the least access to economic, political, or social power and resources. We recognize that geographic and other contexts may influence which communities fit that definition. In our focus regions, these groups may include indigenous people; people of color; transgender, intersex, and gender non-conforming people; women; and low-income individuals. Those living at the intersections of these identities are usually most “pushed to the margins.”

    3Sample Equal Employment Opportunity Policy Statement: “It is the policy of [org. name] to promote and ensure equal employment opportunity for all persons without regard to race, creed, alienage, citizenship, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, sexual orientation, height or weight, disability, gender identity, expression, or reassignment, marital status, partnership status, pregnancy, maternity or parental status, military status, domestic violence victim status, genetic information or predisposing genetic characteristics, prior arrest or conviction record, or any other characteristic protected by law..”