New Arcus Grants Support LGBT Communities of Color, Leadership, and Culture

June 7, 2013

The Arcus Foundation’s social justice strategies build on the policy successes of the last decade to focus on cultural change (particularly within marginalized communities), international human rights, and on the power of religious institutions to affect the lives of LGBT people. This quarter, Arcus focuses primarily on its U.S. social justice program, which seeks to shift culture, build leadership, and increase protections primarily among youth, communities of color, and faith populations. Twenty-two of this quarter’s 29 social justice grants focus on these populations.

Using Multiple Social Levers to Shift Culture

Reaching into some of the U.S. South’s most deeply religious communities, a group of Arcus grantees will work to promote full acceptance of LGBT community members by addressing the marginalization of young LGBT members of ‘black church’ congregations (Southern Poverty Law Center), building a cross-sector movement for justice (Southerners on New Ground), and combining anti-discrimination litigation and policy work with outreach to the media (American Civil Liberties Union).

Expanding LGBT understanding within diverse Asian Pacific Islander (API) communities is the aim of two grantees. Chinese for Affirmative Action, with API Equality of Los Angeles and of Northern California, plans to conduct community and media outreach to develop culturally sensitive messengers—both LGBT and allied—to build support for equality among API youth, faith-based communities, and community leaders. And the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), through the Tides Center, will support its affiliates’ outreach efforts, such as presenting at API cultural events and providing family-oriented, multilingual public service announcements that bring to light positive stories of API parents and their LGBT children.

Finally, the experiences and life stories of LGBT individuals will be captured through OutLoud, a new initiative by the oral-history-archiving organization StoryCorps, which aims to leave a legacy for future generations.

Developing Leadership among Youth and Adults

Development of youth leaders, particularly those of color, to guide major LGBT organizations in the United States is central to the Foundation’s strategy of building a nationwide movement.

Growing longstanding relationships, Arcus is supporting the Emerging Leaders Initiative of the National Black Justice Coalition, which gives black LGBT young adults opportunities to advocate for issues of concern to their communities; the Pipeline Project, a signature initiative of the Arcus Foundation developed together with the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice; the Gay & Lesbian Leadership Institute’s Victory Congressional Internship program; and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Academy of Leadership and Action, which will train diverse LGBT movement leaders and allies.

Arcus will also be making its first grant to the National Council of La Raza, to integrate LGBT youth issues into its civil rights agenda.

Assisting Vulnerable LGBT Populations

With LGBT youth, particularly youth of color, remaining profoundly vulnerable to family and community rejection, bullying, exclusion and physical violence, funding will support efforts against discriminatory policing in New York carried out by the Racial Profiling Initiative of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and by the Streetwise and Safe Project through support to the Urban Justice Center.

New funding will support reforms to benefit LGBT youth within the child-welfare, juvenile-justice, and homeless-services systems (Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund) and support expanded capacity of LGBT youth centers nationwide (CenterLink). You Can Play will continue to advocate for full LGBT inclusion and an end to locker-room bullying and intimidation in sports. Additional funds to the Centers for Disease Control Foundation and New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project will address research gaps on the impact of discrimination or violence toward LGBT youth and wider LGBTQ and HIV-affected communities.

Arcus has also stated a priority for addressing the needs of transgender populations, and this quarter is pleased to support North Carolina’s Freedom Center for Social Justice, which will enable new employment and legal services through the Transgender Faith and Action Network.  Grants to Immigration Equality and to Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) will help ensure that legal and economic protections are available to other vulnerable populations.

International Human Rights and Global Religions Programs

Arcus is also announcing significant grants in its other two program areas.

First, leveraging support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Arcus is providing a significant grant to GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) to build a global network to improve educational efforts about LGBT people in the Global South.

Funding will also help protect those escaping persecution for their sexual orientation or gender identity (Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration) and to attain legal assistance in national and international courts (Human Dignity Trust). Human Rights Watch will receive support for its global non-discrimination program, and Arcus will enable the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University to bring an African LGBT activist to its Human Rights Advocates Program.

Finally, as part of the Foundation’s global religions program, funding will help the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health to build a cross-movement alliance against “religious exemptions,” the new tactic to erode civil rights protections for LGBT people. This grant follows on last quarter’s investments in Center for American ProgressAmerican Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood, and represents Arcus’ continued support for the campaign to expose and combat this misleading tactic. Arcus is also continuing its support for Political Research Associates, which will create new materials and in-person forums to help U.S. progressive networks fight anti-LGBT work in Africa – itself enabled by U.S.-based religious conservatives.