BY AJ TRAGER
DETROIT – The HOPE Fund, housed at the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (CFSEM), recently approved $60,000 to be divided into three grants supporting programs that help LGBT individuals.
Three grants of $20,000 each were awarded to the Community Health Awareness Group, Progress Michigan and the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund.
The bi-annual grants are typically given to organizations located in Michigan, however in this cycle a New York City-based organization will receive one of the three grants designated for June.
“Typically grants are only awarded to organizations that are headquartered in southeast Michigan. This organization (Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund) has been working in southeast Michigan and is growing its presence in the area,” Surabhi Pandit, program officer for CFSEM, told BTL. “This grant is helping strengthen their capacity to have a staff person for outreach work.”
The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund launched a pilot program in February 2015 providing legal name change services to transgender men and women living in Michigan. The program is now full-time, providing aid to trans men and women, as well as training opportunities for legal professionals to work on these cases.
While the process of changing one’s name is significantly easier than changing one’s gender marker on official documents – such as state IDs – and costs around $350, many find the process to be both confusing and time-consuming. Having professional help from someone trained in the legal challenges surrounding the name change process helps individuals file more quickly and more efficiently.
The second grant to the Community Health and Awareness Group, located in Detroit, supports the LGBT Detroit Leadership Academy, a program of LGBT Detroit. CHAG is the fiduciary agent for LGBT Detroit. The Leadership Academy a social justice training program for Black young adults between the ages of 18 and 20. The academy began in 2012, and since its inception has integrated a more formalized leadership program, incorporating the expertise of outside speakers and opportunities for those in the academy to participate in other activities and work with partners like the CHAG.
“What we’re supporting here is their tangent of that program (Leadership Academy) to develop into a more robust program,” Pandit said. “LGBT Detroit didn’t have the capacity to turn what they have accomplished into an income generating model. The model resides in the organization and they are now coming up with conceptual steps to help bring this model to other communities.
“This is a grassroots approach to development. You don’t see a lot of leadership programs that aren’t targeting mid to high level professionals,” she continued.
The third grant was made to Progress Michigan located in Lansing. The organization serves as a communication team and media hub for the progressive community in the state. The organization has come out in strong support of LGBT organizations and the grant will help Progress Michigan continue to build communications support and direct media for LGBT-specific social justice initiatives around the state.
“The grant is to help them with LGBT work in the region and provide communications work in various capacities, providing LGBT organizations with deep training on how to do their own website and media and how to communicate and do interviews,” Pandit said.
The HOPE Fund was created in 1994 to support LGBT individuals and families through targeted grantmaking, projects and technical assistance. Since its inception, it has distributed nearly $1.9 million in grants to 134 projects at 50 nonprofit agencies throughout Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, Washtenaw, St. Clair and Livingston counties.
Twice a year grants are made to individuals and organizations supporting a wide variety of activities benefiting education, arts and culture, health, human services, community development and civic affairs. CFSEM is a full-service philanthropic organization with a permanent community endowment built by gifts from thousands of individuals and organizations.
For more information on CFSEM or the HOPE Fund visit http://www.cfsem.org.
“They noticed over time they have been seeing LGBT organizations come into their pervue more and said why not now, this is a good time to be taking a deeper stance on that work,” Pandit said.