(EDGE) The Rhode Island Foundation has announced that seven nonprofit organizations serving the state's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) communities will receive more than $50,000 in grants through its Equity Action Fund. The money will fund services ranging from wellness programs to domestic violence prevention.
"These organizations work to ensure the health, safety and fair treatment of all LGBTQ Rhode Islanders," said Adrian Bonéy, who oversees Equity Action at the Foundation. "This important work is enhanced by strengthening alliances between nonprofits working to address the most critical needs of Rhode Island's LGBTQ communities, including investments in health, education and the arts, as well as issues critical to young and elderly members of the community."
Project Weber/RENEW was awarded $10,000 to extend a pilot program that reaches out to transgender sex workers.
"We target both the physical streets of Providence, as well as the invisible 'streets' of hook-up apps. Our goal is to ensure that clients, particularly transgender clients, do not fall through the cracks, and to ensure they are able to access necessary health, prevention and recovery services," said Colleen Daley Ndoye, executive director.
Youth Pride received $10,000 to expand and improve its Gay Straight Alliance (GSA). The strategies include convening monthly meetings with youth members from GSAs throughout Rhode Island, increasing outreach to local gay/straight alliances and offering regional programming for GSAs.
"The GSA Coalition has been one of our most successful initiatives for engagement within Rhode Island's school system and has opened the door for us to also conduct essential trainings for school officials. It fills a critical need in our schools," said Chris Lauth, executive director.
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Sojourner House received $8,000 to increase the number of LGBTQ+ and trans victims of intimate partner violence who are accessing and receiving services, to increase the number of community-based organizations that are more knowledgeable about and more equipped to respond to LGBTQ+ and trans intimate partner violence and to increase the number of students who are more knowledgeable about and more comfortable with LGBTQ+ and trans issues.
"We are committed to working to end domestic violence in all communities. Intimate partner violence affects lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer relationships with the same, if not higher, frequency as heterosexual relationships, yet the issue is seldom addressed in the community. We are grateful to receive the resources to continue this critical work," said Vanessa Volz, executive director.
Thundermist Health Center received $7,400 to support its Trans* Health and Wellness Program. The grant will enable the organization to expand its individual and group behavioral health services, and offer social- and community-building events to improve the physical and mental health and wellness of the trans* community.
"As we embark on the second year of the Trans* Health Access Team, we are pleased by the growing recognition of the importance of providing a culturally and clinically competent continuum of care for transgender Rhode Islanders. We are particularly excited for the opportunity to continue to expand the program to include innovative wellness programs such as Trans* Health Swim and Yoga," said Jayeson Watts, Trans* Health Program manager.
GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) received $10,000 to support its ongoing work with Rhode Island organizations and agencies that address issues facing LGBTQ youth and families.
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"While our outreach has increased substantially, families and youth still face discrimination in critical areas of their lives. We aim to ensure that Rhode Island youth and families are respected and cherished for who they are," said Janson Yu, executive director.
New Urban Arts was awarded $3,200 for the Untitlement Project, which will enable low-income youth to use writing and art to explore issues of identity, including gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
"These young people will investigate stereotypes, media awareness, violence, anger, vulnerability, loneliness, love and relationships. The goal is to raise consciousness and explore inequities around privilege, power and language," said Daniel Schleifer, executive director. "They will grow through deep listening, hard questions and vibrant, challenging dialogue."
Flickers, The Newport Film/Video Society & Arts Collaborative, received $2,000 to support its Forward Movement Program, which aims to offer LGBTQ programing year-round.
The components will include an LGBTQ Film Showcase featuring more than 50 LGBTQ films with encore screenings taking place throughout the year, the Flickers' Youth Film Jury, which includes new film appreciation and film mentorship components; and the second annual LGBT Film Festival Summit.
"The highlight will be the selection of designated filmmakers who will serve as mentors for youth jury members," said George Marshall, executive director.
There are two categories of Equity Action grants: Projects that meet the community's priority needs through the empowerment of under-represented individuals in LGBTQ communities and capacity-building grants for board development, strategic planning, program development, fundraising or other activities that build the capacity of organizations that play a vital and unique role in the LGBTQ communities.
Equity Action is guided by a volunteer advisory committee comprised of community leaders including committee Chair Michael Grabo and Vice-Chair Jean Burke. While this year's deadline to apply for major grants has passed, the Foundation is still accepting proposals for amounts under $2,500.
Established in 2002, Equity Action is committed to enacting social change by championing initiatives and organizations that encourage justice for, support and improve the quality of life of LGBTQ Rhode Islanders. Over the years, Equity Action has awarded more than $750,000 in grants to dozens of organizations.
The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. In 2015, the Foundation awarded $41.5 million in grants to organizations addressing the state's most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities. Through leadership, fundraising and grant-making activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.
For information or to make a donation to Equity Action or any of the other 1,400 funds that the Foundation oversees, visit www.rifoundation.org.