“What stands out in 2021 is the resilience and determination of our many grantee partners all around the world, as they contended with myriad headwinds beyond the SARS-COVID-19 virus,” Arcus CEO Annette Lanjouw says. “Numerous critical shifts facing humanity and the natural world have the potential, both independently and collectively, to change the world in dramatic ways.”

Our 2021 annual report showcases what we have learned to date from multi-year strategies currently pursued by the foundation and grantee partners working toward LGBTQ social justice and conservation of great apes and gibbons.

This year’s report, available to download below, includes a video conversation with our CEO and our founder, features by our social justice program vice president and our director of executive initiatives, and case studies highlighting outcomes of monitoring and evaluation by our Social Justice and Great Apes & Gibbons programs teams.

We also provide details of our 2021 financials and grantmaking, including a series of grants supporting the resilience of existing grantees in the face of the ongoing pandemic.

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The Importance of Learning to Our Grantmaking

Social Justice Program Case Studies

The Social Justice Program’s 2017 strategy articulated three goals, identified 12 countries of the Americas and Africa in which grantmaking is focused, and launched a 10-year plan for achieving the goals. Progress toward these goals is tracked using a system of indicators.

In 2021, the program conducted its second internal evaluation of the implementation of this strategy. Three case studies are featured below.

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Ecosystems of Organizations
Activists gather at the Merced Civic Center
Support Ecosystems
of Organizations

Each organization brings its own unique mission, constituency, and expertise that contribute to the broader and multifaceted movements for social justice.

Data collected from 45 organizations during our 2021 evaluation taught us that long-term funding to multiple grantees in our six U.S. geographic focus areas can build new relationships and strengthen existing alliances that, when mutually reinforcing, knock down barriers to justice.

LGBTQI+ people most pushed to the margins in California's Central Valley face not only homo- and transphobia, but multiple barriers to safety, justice, education, housing, and healthcare, and too often get left out of the workforce and democratic processes.

Since July 2021, Power California's Fund Our Futures campaign has been pushing for pandemic-related federal relief money to be invested in youth jobs after a rise in unemployment across the region, including in the city of Merced, where it jumped to 9 percent.

In December, the campaign persuaded Merced's city council to invest $1.25 million from the American Rescue Plan in a youth employment program—marking an historic victory for the city’s young people. The program will provide educational assistance and job training to help young adults (including LGBTQI+ youth) ages 16-24 succeed in school, and transition to college and careers.

This win is part of Power California’s larger effort to build an ecosystem of youth organizations across the Central Valley.

Supporting Enablers of Change
Support Enablers of
Policy and Social Change

LGBTQI+ leaders are principal enablers of policy and social change when they have legitimacy, knowledge, and experience of the needs and opportunities for change in their communities. They are key to effective engagement with government officials, religious leaders, and other community leaders.

Social change organizations are more effective when relying on a significant and motivated grassroots base, which is why support for base building is a central objective of our strategy. This is especially true in communities pushed to the margins, who often lack resources for expert advocacy or political campaign donations.

Fundación Mexicana Para La Planeación Familiar (MEXFAM), through its Transformándome project, in 2021 mounted an advocacy campaign designed to increase visibility of Muxe (a local gender identity) members of the Zapotec community—indigenous to the Mexican state of Oaxaca—as a strategy to raise awareness and reduce violence and discrimination. The campaign resulted in greater confidence by members of the community in asserting their rights and led to increased participation by Muxe individuals in public life.

On April 7th, 2022, the first regional council of diversity directors and coordinators, including members of the Muxe community, came together from nine municipalities to share experiences and look at challenges to safety in the Isthmus region of Oaxaca.

Grantee Flexibility
Provide Grantees with
Greater Flexibility

While maintaining our strategic focus on LGBTQI+ communities most pushed to the margins, the COVID-19 pandemic led us to become more flexible in our grantmaking. We increased the number of general support grants and approved changes requested by grantees receiving project support.

Where we would normally provide funding that is no more than one-third of an organization’s total budget—to avoid over-reliance on a single donor—we made exceptions, especially in countries with limited funding and where organizational sustainability was a significant concern.

The toll of the COVID-19 pandemic and related emergency health measures imposed by governments across the African continent led not only to negative economic impacts, but also to an increase in repression against already marginalized groups, including LGBTQI+ people.

In response, Pan Africa ILGA used general support funding from Arcus to survey the situations and needs of 50 organizations within the LGBTQI+ movement in east and southern Africa from mid-March 2020 to April 2021, including many partners in Arcus’ Africa focus countries.

The results of the survey, presented in a report released in October 2021, emphasized the need for networks in the region and donors to scale up responses to meet the evolving needs of LGBTQI+ communities.

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Ecosystems of Organizations
Supporting Enablers of Change
Grantee Flexibility
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Great Apes & Gibbons Program Case Studies

The Great Apes & Gibbons Program’s learning is based on a monitoring and evaluation system in which we gather and analyze data from a variety of sources—grantees, conservationists in the field and in academic settings, and relevant databases—to measure progress along specific indicators and milestones against three program goals.

In 2021, the program conducted its second internal evaluation of its 2016 strategy implementation. Two case studies are featured below.

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Expanding Livelihoods
Expand Human Livelihood Initiatives Beyond Economic Development Projects

The program has funded various human livelihood initiatives and noted several common factors in successful projects. These have led us to identify the following criteria to guide our grantmaking:

1. Ensure appropriate expertise and relationships for working with communities to understand their needs (e.g., social science techniques, participatory mapping, conflict resolution, accompanying communities to develop their life plans);

2. Increase direct, long-term funding to grassroots organizations embedded in local communities with a solid understanding of local culture, as well as of the broader drivers of environmental degradation;

3. Move beyond ‘sustainable’ to integrate livelihoods into a collaborative and holistic conservation model linking biological diversity, cultural diversity, (ancestral) land rights, and social justice.

Tanjung Puting National Park is home to one of the largest populations of orangutans in Borneo. Indigenous Dayak communities living around the park rely on the lands for their livelihoods. However, industrial oil palm expansion threatens the communities and the park.

More than 320,000 hectares in Seruyan district, to the park’s east, have been allocated to oil palm, resulting in the takeover of Dayak lands without their consent. Communities have been displaced from their lands and traditional livelihoods of shifting cultivation, hunting, foraging, fishing, boat-making, and basket-weaving. They have been forced to either illegally exploit natural resources in the park and its buffer zone, or work as wage laborers for palm oil companies.

In 2021, Arcus funded Forest Peoples Programme to accompany Seruyan’s Dayak Banjar community in the participatory mapping of their lands, to help them understand their rights so they can advocate for ancestral lands and connected livelihoods, as well as hold companies to account for negative social and environmental impacts.

This grant is demonstrating that addressing the wider threats of tenure insecurity and industrial agriculture expansion is helping communities be better advocates for themselves, the forest, and the orangutans. Park staff have invited communities to provide input on management of the buffer zone as an approach to long-term conservation of the area. FPP is now considering how it can replicate the approach with Indigenous Peoples in other parts of Indonesia.

Improved Collaboration
Improved Collaboration Drives Holistic Approaches to Addressing Threats

The program has supported collaborations in 20 of its 24 priority landscapes. All have shown that inclusive collaboration—conservation with human rights, development with social justice organizations, and those conserving apes in their home ranges with those caring for individuals in captivity—is a critical factor in effective conservation. We identified three learnings from our support to these initiatives:

1. More effective approaches are needed to address inter-NGO politics that can result from gaps in communication, competition for funding, and different values and strategies for conservation;

2. Careful thought must be given to facilitation of collaborative initiatives and overall coordination to ensure power imbalances are managed and diverse participants feel able to have a voice;

3. Conservation action planning should give special attention to local civil society organizations, human rights organizations, rescue and rehabilitation centers, and lifetime care for those individuals who cannot be released due to injury or disease.

Every year across Kalimantan, many orangutans are hunted or killed. Their habitats are often destroyed for crop plantation or timber harvesting, leaving the animals stranded in small, unsustainable stands of forest and forcing them to enter fields to find food.

Rescued and confiscated orangutans require high-quality facilities for their rehabilitation and medical care. Yet people in the areas where orangutans are found are often underserved and do not have access themselves to adequate healthcare.

Since its inception, International Animal Rescue Indonesia has worked with local forestry
authorities to rescue more than 250 displaced orangutans. Those that are suitable candidates
for release are introduced into Bukit Baka Bukit Raya National Park in the Arabella Schwanner landscape, an isolated and remote area bordering the park. Post-reintroduction monitoring of orangutans enables conservationists and practitioners to assess challenges to their survival. As stated in guidelines produced by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), post-reintroduction monitoring of orangutans enables conservationists and practitioners to assess challenges to their survival. IAR Indonesia reports high survival rates for their reintroduced orangutans.

Health in Harmony has developed a program in partnership with villages surrounding the park to provide low-cost or affordable healthcare in exchange for a commitment by villagers to halt illegal logging. In this and all of its work, HiH seeks to ensure community needs are met by employing a non-threatening engagement technique: Radical Listening.

The aim of the collaboration between the two organizations is to reestablish and revive a threatened ecosystem where Bornean orangutans can thrive and flourish in harmony with surrounding human communities.

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Expanding Livelihoods
Improved Collaboration
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2021 Financials and Grantmaking

(unaudited figures at December 31, 2021)
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Supporting Resilience throughout the Pandemic

While continuing to provide increased flexibility in administration of grants, Arcus awarded an additional $1 million to support the resilience of existing grantees facing unprecedented challenges amid the public health, social inequity, and economic crises. These grants helped recipients to collaborate within and across sectors, and to build skills and preparedness.


Thank you to our grantees, partners, and friends who contributed to the content of Arcus in 2021.