When it comes to handing out grants for LGBT causes, Our Fund CEO David Jobin said it’s about more than just health and equality issues.
“From lesbian health to HIV/AIDS to transgender services to LGBT homeless youth to LGBT seniors to gay and lesbian culture, I think we hit every facet of gay life in South Florida.”
On May 18 in Fort Lauderdale, Our Fund presented $106,000 in grants to 18 organizations, including the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida, Out My Closet, Pridelines, YES Institute, Arianna’s Center, New Beginnings, Pet Project for Pets, Sunshine Cathedral, Lambda Living, Red Hispana, and Theatre of Creative Consciousness of the Arts.
“Six [organizations] were brand new to us, which is really exciting to us because we identified six more non-profits in South Florida that are advancing LGBT causes,” Jobin said.
“We always encourage [LGBT and non-LGBT] non-profits to apply and ask for help. But it has to be for an LGBT cause,” Jobin said. Guilda’s Club received $10,000 for its “Touched by Cancer” initiative which aims to reduce the incidents of advanced stage breast, lung, cervical, and colorectal cancers in women with female partners. Our Fund hands out grants twice a year.
Some of those causes are advanced through the arts and educational programs.
Jon Diernbach, president of the South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble, said his organization will use the $5,000 it received to fund its Youth Pride Band next year. Every January and February, South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble invites LGBT and straight students to apply to join the band. It all culminates in a combined student and adult concert.
“When we started it [in 2011], it was about the same time as the ‘It Gets Better Project’ started. We wanted to create a space where young adults could have a comfortable, safe place to play music together and see that their passion for music could continue onto adulthood,” Diernbach said.
Several of the participating students have gone onto music programs in college and are music majors. Some have even returned to play with the year-round ensemble. “They’re great kids and part of the best of what our high schools have to offer. We welcome them back because they’re great players and great people,” Diernbach said.
Gay or straight, Bob Knotts, founder and president of The Humanity Project, said his organization aims to teach students to celebrate and respect their differences. Part of that means facilitating anti-bullying programs because LGBT students are disproportionately the victims of bullying. “There are elements to being an LGBT child that makes you stand out,” Knotts said. Anything that makes you stand out, makes you different, Knotts said, makes you a target for bullies. “I know this from first-hand experience. It’s left scars on me to this day.”
Knotts’ organization teaches three particular values as part of its program: respect, diversity, and self-worth.
“We try to teach those elements to all those kids. How their differences are positive when individuals express their unique humanity. Differences are good things. Our Fund is a critical supporter and a critical partner in that effort.” The Humanity Project received $10,000 from Our Fund this year and Our Fund helped connect the organization to the Gay and Lesbian Lawyers Network which held a fundraiser that generated an additional $5,700 for The Humanity Project.
“Our Fund has made us a better organization. We love them. David Jobin is the best. He’s bright. He’s innovative. He’s everything we want in a community leader,” Knotts said.
The next deadline to apply for a grant is Aug. 31. Visit our-fund.org or call 954-565-1090 for more information on how to apply for grants.