Request for Concepts: International 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 International LGBTQ social justice work. We hope that 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 regranting and multi-country projects, or to propose projects in one focus country or at the regional level.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 legal 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 international grants will support work in the focus regions of East Africa; Southern Africa; the Caribbean, Central America, and Mexico, with a specific focus on the following countries:

    • East Africa – Kenya, Uganda
    • Southern Africa – Botswana, Malawi, South Africa
    • Caribbean – Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago
    • Central America – El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras
    • Mexico

    Within all countries in the above regions, and region-wide as well, Arcus will prioritize proposals focused on transgender people as well as faith issues that align with our three goal areas.

    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 has taught us that the following approaches are key to advancing social change. While we are not expecting every applicant to utilize all of these approaches, successful applicants’ work should embody one or more of them. Our focus is on selecting a mix of grantees who are working across our goal areas in ways that reflect these priorities:

    • Self-determination: efforts led from within the society or community they seek to influence, managed by applicants with open consultation of and accountability to local LGBTQ communities.
    • Authentic inclusion and leadership of marginalized communities in organizations. This includes but is not limited to staff leadership, decision-making power and/or Board representation;
    • Initiatives led by faith, trans, and other groups with less access to resources and who are marginalized within LGBTQ communities.
    • Concepts related to one or more focus countries within the Arcus-selected regions.
    • Cross-sector or cross-movement alliances working towards one or more of Arcus’ goals.
    • Work that increases the political power of constituencies to influence change through civic engagement and democratic participation.

  7. Guiding Principles

    • Arcus aims to build, over time, a core group of long-term partnerships via multi-year grants.
    • We have a strong commitment to racial, gender, and economic justice.
    • We strive to support work that is by and for communities pushed to the margins.
    • We will prioritize work where the timeframe for the changes to be pursued is either short (less than 5 years) or medium (5-10 years). Given that change can take a long time, we seek a measurable approach for the two-year grant timeframe, including the goals—and the strategies to achieve the goals—with clear and realistic efforts that can be achieved during the two-year grant period, with the available resources.
    • Grants typically range from a minimum of US$50,000 to a maximum of US$100,000 per year, for a maximum of two years, for groups focused on one country; grantmaking intermediaries or larger multi-country partnership projects can exceed US$100,000 per year. We expect to award up to 30 grants, totaling over US$7 million during 2019-2020.
    • We intend to provide general operating support, when possible, to organizations whose core work (not projects) advances one or more of the Arcus social justice goals within our focus regions or countries.2 Intermediaries, regional groups or multi-country partnership projects will be funded for project support only, but will be able to propose work in any or all countries in the focus geographic regions, as long as at least one focus country is included.
    • Arcus funds will not cover more than one-third of an applicant’s or applicants’ (for joint partner projects) annual organizational budgets.

  8. Work We Seek to Support

  9. We seek to support the following work aimed at achieving impact at the country level, within each of our three goal areas:

    1. Increased safety: Reduction in violence against LGBTQ people and increased security of LGBTQ advocates and communities.

    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 to use for advocacy; and build partnerships to advocate for identified government and/or community-based and led interventions. Strategies can include, but are not limited to:

      • Documentation: 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 refugees.
      • Advocacy: Campaigning against violence, utilizing tools such as litigation and media, based on evidence and in alliance with the leaders and voices of other movements, including those grounded in faith communities that speak compellingly about faith as a rationale for inclusion, the elimination of violence, and/or through engagement with government officials and law enforcement.

    3. Increased legal protection: Successful challenges to discriminatory provisions and practices, existing or proposed, and adoption and implementation of anti-discrimination measures.

      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:

      • Advocacy: Evidence-based policy campaigns developed in alliance with leaders in multiple sectors, especially faith, political and civil society; utilizing tools such as litigation and media.
      • Base-building: Initiatives to expand democratic participation of local constituencies, and to place LGBTQ people—especially those most marginalized—in leadership positions.

    4. Increased social inclusion: Increased acceptance and inclusion of LGBTQ people demonstrated by a positive shift in public opinion and among leaders (secular and faith).

      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:

      • Advocacy: targeted media coverage (any type of media) and education campaigns for acceptance and social inclusion of LGBTQ people, particularly of those most affected by discrimination and violence, and featuring voices of leaders (secular and faith).
      • Documentation: Generating, disaggregating, and analyzing data on public opinion (rates, what messaging generates change, understanding of lived realities of LGBTQ people—particularly the most marginalized); and tracking and analyzing media representation..
      • Training: outcome-based training, including for media coverage of faith and secular leaders, who can advocate for specific changes..

    Arcus considers these three goal areas to be interrelated in the realization of human rights 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. Organization’s total amount of LGBTQ-related expenditures in the most recently completed fiscal year, including administrative expenses (for LGBTQ organizations, include total expenditures).
    2. 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).
    3. 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.
    4. The concept’s relevance to the Funding Priorities set forth in Section III above.
    5. Description of the institutional governance structure, including board membership and, where applicable, how grantmaking decisions would be made or project partners would be funded.
    6. Country selection: complete the attached country chart as relevant to your concept. The chart can be adapted as necessary, provided all the required information is included.
    7. Link to and impact in geographic priority areas.

    Eligibility Criteria

    Successful applicants will meet all the following threshold criteria:

    1. Legal status: All applicants need to be registered legal entities with a charitable purpose. Applicants registered outside the United States, applying for general operating support or for grantmaking, must participate in an Equivalency Determination process (after being selected based on a concept), which includes having at least five years of financial statements, among other requirements; applicants with less than five years of financials must request project support that does not include grantmaking with Arcus funds.
    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: All applicants must have at least two years of experience in the proposed work.
    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. Budget: (1) For grantmaking organizations, a minimum of 70% of Arcus funds should be used for grantmaking, while the other 30% can cover overhead, administrative expenses, and/or program costs. If there is a need for additional non-grantmaking related expenses, a rationale must be provided and will be considered by Arcus; (2) Arcus funds will cover no more than one-third of an organization’s annual organizational budgets.
    6. Institutional governance: Applicants’ institutional governance must include policies and procedures to protect against actual and apparent conflicts of interest, and to ensure transparency in decision-making and financial operations.
    7. 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, which present a rationale for the joint concept and the distinct contribution of each partner.
    8. Current and past Arcus grantees may apply, as well as first-time applicants with whom Arcus has not had a previous relationship.
    9. 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.

    2Please see Eligibility Criteria for information on organizations that can request general operating support under US regulations.

    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..”