Arcus Refines Social Justice Strategy to Tackle Mounting LGBTQ Challenges

Social justice movements are facing pervasive threats around the world, prompting activists and organizations, including funders, to reassess their strategies and form deeper partnerships.

Over the past year, we at Arcus conducted a rigorous, evidence-based assessment of our Social Justice strategy. We used data that included extensive feedback from grantees who indicated a desire that we enhance our focus, strengthen our partnerships and transparency, and articulate our strategy with greater clarity.

Our analysis and thinking reconfirmed the fundamental what of our strategy, but pointed at ways in which we need to refine how we tackle it. The resulting refinements to our theory of change and strategy include the integration of what has been four separate areas and sets of goals into a single program with three goals; and the centering of our work in three specific geographies.

Our three goals are increasing safety; increasing policy protections; and increasing acceptance and inclusion for LGBTQ people, including those who are most marginalized.

We see safety in terms of combating violence, increasing access to justice; increasing coordination and collaboration between LGBTQ, faith, and secular allies; and improving documentation of violence.

Our policy goal focuses on increasing, implementing, and sustaining LGBTQ-affirming protections. This includes supporting organizations and networks to build self-determined strategic alliances and coordination for common purposes; increasing the capacity needed to expand diverse, active constituency bases for greater influence and power; and building strong leadership pipelines of LGBTQ people pushed to the margins.

We think of inclusion and acceptance in terms of achieving greater movement coordination, expanding public education and communication about LGBTQ people in faith-based and secular communities, and strengthening public narratives about LGBTQ people.

Geographically, the program’s focus areas will now comprise the Southern United States, with a focus on Arizona, California’s Central Valley, Florida, Georgia, New Mexico, and North Carolina; East and Southern Africa, with priority given to Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, and Uganda; and the Caribbean, Central America, and Mexico, with focus areas to be presented later in 2018.1

While we realize that some current grantees may become ineligible for future support under these refined goals and geographies, we are committed to a thoughtful, responsible, and transparent process of transition that minimizes disruption to our partners’ work.

Throughout 2018, we will prioritize grantmaking to existing grantees before starting implementation of the refined strategy with any new partners by the year’s end. In March, we will notify all current grantees about their eligibility under the new strategy and program staff will schedule time to meet with grantees and discuss any changes.

A webinar delivered to active grantee partners on February 15 (available for viewing below) provides an exposition and answers questions about the assessment, strategy, and way forward.

Through our next steps, we believe that we can grow our impact as we continue to advance LGBTQ justice, and focus on those most marginalized, in ways that are resonant and complementary to movements for racial, gender, and economic justice.

We will be sharing further information to better familiarize our partners with the strategy in the coming months.

1Guidelines are being developed for international, regional, and national organizations working within these specific focus areas