Aqua Foundation for Women Awards Grants to LBT Organizations
The LBT community just got $50,000 richer.
The Aqua Foundation for Women — a foundation that works to improve the LBT community through grants, scholarships, and mentoring programs — announced the winners of this year’s grants on Jan. 4. The Aqua Foundation awards annual grants to organizations that promote equality, wellness, and empowerment for LBT women. The grants have been awarded every year since 2005 and this year, $50,000 in grants was given to seven organizations in Broward and Dade counties.
“Each year we award grants to organizations that fit what we are trying to accomplish in the community,” Executive Director of the Aqua Foundation Robin Schwartz said. “Everything we do benefits the lesbian, bisexual, transgender women’s community.”
Each of the organizations will be using the grant money to fund initiatives ranging from cultural enrichment to youth services.
Gilda’s Club of South Florida provides the community with a network of support groups and organized activities to support people in the community living with cancer and their families and friends. Gilda’s Club will be using the $5,000 in grant money to organize “Women Supporting Women” — a support group for LBT women struggling with cancer.
“We’re hoping to increase cancer awareness and promote a healthy lifestyle,” CEO of Gilda’s Club Shelley Goren said. “We’re expecting to serve about 90 people.”
Pridelines Youth Services provides a safe haven for at-risk LBGTQ youth. They organize events and programs and network with other organizations to get at-risk youth help with issues like homelessness and suicidal actions. They arranged a three-day youth leadership retreat at Hugh Taylor Birch Park beginning Jan. 18 and the $4,000 of the $9,000 in grant money awarded will sponsor the attendance of 23 LBT women at the camping trip. The other $5,000 will be used to fund a variety of workshops for LBT women ranging from gender and sexuality to health-related workshops, according to Pridelines’ Director of Programs Luigi Ferrer.
“The camp experience will be great for them. A lot of youth don’t have much experience with other LGBT youth. It’ll be great for them to see other and many of the counselors are gay and lesbian which will provide them with adult role models,” Ferrer said.
SunServe provides members of the LGBTQ community with support groups and counseling services. Using the grant money awarded from the Aqua Foundation, SunServe will be organizing support groups and educating people on intimate partner violence in the LBT community, according to the Aqua Foundation.
The Pride Center at Equality Park hosts more than 60 group meetings per month that address issues facing the LGBT community. They organize activities and services to educate the public on health and safety issues and promote pride in the LBGT community. The Pride Center at Equality Park is using the grant money to create an online health directory so women can search for physicians and keep the LBT community informed about health issues.
According to Robin Schwartz of the Aqua Foundation, this $15,000 grant is the most impactful grant awarded this year.
“A lot of women don’t go to the doctor because of fear of discrimination or sometimes just embarrassment,” Schwartz said. “This directory is going to save lives because women will be able to go get check-ups instead of waiting until something is wrong.”
The Museum of Contemporary Art’s “Women on the Rise” program provides young women between the ages of 12 and 18 with access to hands-on art projects, meetings with noted women artists, and information on how art can address issues affecting women like body image and relationships, according to their website, mocanomi.org. The money awarded will be used to continue the program and focus on artistic initiatives for LBT women.
PFLAG Ft. Lauderdale is an organization that meets to discuss issues facing the LGBT community and advocates for equal opportunity for and the ending of discrimination. Last year, the Aqua Foundation’s grant money funded an outreach program for at-risk LGBT and this year’s grant money will fund the continuation of the program, according to PFLAG’s Facebook page.
Safe Schools South Florida’s promotes safer schools by hosting training programs and seminars to advocate equal rights and opportunity for LGBT youth. Their “Women in Training” program educates LBT women in public speaking and encourages them to get involved in the community. According to their website, safeschoolsouthflorida.org, the grant money will be used for the second year in a row to continue the growth and development of this program.