The LGBTQ Racial Justice Fund – a collaborative philanthropic initiative that envisions a United States where LGBTQ people of colour can safely and vibrantly pursue full authentic lives – announced $780,000 in inaugural grants to support efforts in the Southeastern United States.

The Fund’s collaborative partners, the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, the Ford Foundation, the Arcus Foundation and an anonymous donor, aim to develop and strengthen a strategic and effective advocacy sector addressing the needs of LGBTQ communities of colour.

We have made tremendous progress toward improving the life quality of LGBTQ individuals and families. But unless we both recruit new leaders and respect the strong long-standing strategic voices in communities of color, our momentum could slow to a crawl in the next battleground regions, like the Southwest and Southeast”

J. Bob Alotta, Executive Director of the Astraea Lesbian Fund for Justice.

This first round of grants targets education, organising and advocacy and includes the following organisations:

  • Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, working in partnership with the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights and Equality Louisiana (New Orleans, LA) to coordinate the Louisiana Safe Schools Coalition, ensuring that every child in Louisiana receives a high quality education in a safe, welcoming and affirming environment.
  • Racial Justice Action Center, working in partnership with LaGender and Trans(forming) (Atlanta, GA) in the Solutions Not Punishment (SNaP) Coalition & Campaign, to increase employment rates and access to housing and quality health care for LGBTQ communities of colour in the Atlanta metropolitan area while decreasing police harassment, profiling and abuse.
  • New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice, working in partnership with BreakOUT! (New Orleans, LA) to formalise From Vice to Ice, a campaign to end the criminalisation of LGBTQ people of colour and immigrant communities and build a transformative movement for justice and equity in the United States South.
  • Nollie Jenkins Family Center, working in partnership with the Mississippi Coalition for the Prevention of Schoolhouse 2 Jailhouse (Lexington, MS) to reframe the negative narrative and oppressive conditions faced by LGBTQ youth through public education, public discourse and support of queer youth-focused issues.
  • Project South (Atlanta, GA), working in partnership with the organisations of the Southern Movement Assembly to coordinate the Unite to Fight Summer Organising Drive to revitalise civic participation and build necessary infrastructure for organising, education, and communications capacities within communities affected by oppression and exploitation across the US South.
  • Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), a California-based organisation working in partnership with the Youth Empowerment Project (New Orleans, LA) to build capacity and empower low-income LGBTQ youth of colour in public schools to create systemic change at both local and state levels in Louisiana.

By partnering with pioneering funders with a successful history of seeding social change, the LGBTQ Racial Justice Fund hopes to expand what people, organisations and funders see as the full measure of progress when it comes to improving the lives of LGBTQ communities.

“The LGBTQ Racial Justice Fund is a collaborative initiative to influence resources that will affect greater change than we could achieve alone. By also supporting organisations that work together, the grants further leverage efforts to improve the lives of LGBTQ communities of colour. We invite more funders to partner with the LGBTQ Racial Justice Fund and help us advance racial justice and LGBTQ equality,”

Roz Lee, Senior Program Officer of the Arcus Foundation

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“LGBT Americans have made great strides towards the dream of a lived equality, but our work is far from over. Baseline legal equality has yet to reach vast swaths of our country—especially for those who live in the Southeast. Even in states with legal protections, there is a wide gulf between what the law promises and the daily experiences of LGBT people, especially people of color. The Ford Foundation believes that every person should have the opportunity to reach their full potential, contribute to society and have voice in the decisions that affect them — regardless of their race, sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Luna Yasui, LGBT Rights Program at the Ford Foundation

A second request for proposals is expected to be issued in 2015 with an expanded geographic reach.