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by Jessica Carreras
The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan has announced their first-ever HOPE Fund grants awarded for the Racial Equity Initiative. The groups receiving the grants are Kick, The Agency for the LGBT Connect Initiative, and Sistahs Providing Intelligence, Creativity and Empowerment, in the amounts of $15,288 and $20,000, respectively.
The Racial Equity Initiative was created two years ago to help foster growth in southeast Michigan’s LGBT organizations for people of color. The $150,000 grant over three years is funded half by the Arcus Foundation and half by the New York-based Funders for Gay and Lesbian Issues.
The grants come in conjunction with grants from the general HOPE Fund, including $15,000 for the ACLU of Michigan, $20,000 for the Citizens for Better Care Institute and $20,000 for Community Health Outreach Workers. ACLU’s grant will be used to help promote their LGBT project, while the other two grants will be used to focus on LGBT diversity training and help for LGBT youth.
While the HOPE fund has been providing assistance for projects in the LGBT community for 15 years, Community Foundation Consultant Katie Brisson explained that they felt that LGBT organizations of color were getting left behind. “We had concerns that many of the people of color organizations weren’t at the capacity that they were able to compete for grants,” she explained. “We had been wanting to do something, particularly for the people of color communities.”
The first objective of the Racial Equity Initiative was identifying LGBT people of color organizations, of which the Community Foundation found 17 in the seven-county area they cover. That area includes Wayne, Washtenaw, Oakland, Monroe, Macomb, St. Clair and Livingston Counties.
From there, they spent the first year of the project offering training to all the groups to get to know them and help them to identify what their needs and goals are. Though all were contacted, Brisson explained that “there are four or five that are kind of at the point that are really taking us up on the opportunity and we’re really working more closely with.”
Of those four or five, Kick and SPICE were the standout groups who applied for and received the first grants from the initiative.
Kick plans to use the grant money as support for a program to increase the use of technology as a means to better connect to the Detroit LGBT community. SPICE will use their grant toward the implementation of programming for women of color in the metro Detroit LGBT community.
“Both Kick and SPICE went through a whole range of capacity building training over the last year,” Brisson said. “So by the time they came to us for the grant, they had identified what they need next to grow as an organization and what will get them over the hump to really grow both the number of people they’re serving and the types of services they offer.”
As for the long-term goals of the Racial Equity Initiative, Brisson explains that the Community Foundation hopes to bring LGBT people of color groups up to the status where they will be able to compete for grants in the general HOPE Fund. “We hope that after the three years, that then some of these organizations will be in a better place to apply to the HOPE fund and be successful at getting grants from the larger fund,” she said. “The HOPE fund is here for perpetuity, to serve the greater gay and lesbian community and we would love to see more people of color organizations applying to the HOPE fund and being successful in getting grants.”
However, more than just helping the organizations to grow, Brisson said that the greatest long-term benefit has been getting to know the organizations, their members and their leaders. “Our HOPE donors and committee members are learning about all of these organizations, learning the leaders – there’s some wonderful leaders of the people of color organizations that we’re building relationships with,” she said. “So that is a long-term effect, and just getting some more attention on the work that they’ve been doing.”