By Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
KALAMAZOO — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has been awarded a combined gift of $3 million over three years from the Arcus Foundation and its founder and president, Jon Stryker.
The award consists of a three-year grant for 2006-2008, consisting of a $1 million individual contribution from Stryker and $2 million from the Arcus Foundation. The award will be used to train leaders, organize local communities, strengthen coalitions between LGBT and non-gay allies, build the capacity of statewide LGBT organizations and strengthen the Task Force’s own capacity to work for LGBT equality.
“This combined award of $3 million by Mr. Stryker and the Arcus Foundation will make a huge difference to the LGBT movement at the state and local level,” said Task Force Executive Director Matt Foreman. “Not only is it the largest award ever made to the Task Force in our 33-year history, it is the largest known gift ever given directly to support movement building and advocacy in the 50-plus year history of the modern LGBT rights movement.”
Kathleen Russell, one a Michigan leader on the board of directors of NGLTF, said, “Jon Stryker and [Arcus Foundation Executive Director] Urvashi Vaid are visionaries. Together they have set the bar high for the strategic use of our individual time, talent, and treasure. Matt Foreman and the Task Force team are up to the challenge. Under Matt’s leadership the team that lead the nation in orientation and gender identity inclusion has been assembled. This award to the NGLTF models the power of transformative and strategic thought propelled by the power of transformative economic resources and implemented by a highly capable Task Force team. Trust me – this is the team for each and every one of us.”
Michigan’s John Allen, also on the NGLTF board, said, “Jon Stryker and all of the people at Arcus have showed incredible faith in the work that the Task Force does. Each of us in the community should be very grateful to them for this extraordinary vote of confidence.”
The contribution comes at a time when basic job discrimination laws, domestic partnership laws, civil union and marriage laws, adoption rights and family recognition are all under fire from heavily financed right-wing groups and are likely to appear on ballots in November 2006 in Arizona, California, Wisconsin, Minnesota and other states.
“I think it is terrific that funders are stepping up to the plate with contributions of this size,” said Sean Kosofsky, director of policy for the Triangle Foundation. “Specifically for the Task Force – the projects they’re supporting help state and local victories, and that’s terrific.”
“We strongly believe in the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force its talented staff, and experienced board leadership,” said Arcus Foundation President Jon Stryker. “This is an urgent moment in the LGBT movement’s effort to achieve full human rights and dignity — the work at the state and local level has never been more important. This is the ideal time to increase our investment in one of our community’s most effective organizations, and we hope other donors will do so as well.”
Over the past five years, Arcus has granted more than $1.6 million to the Task Force.
“Stronger state and national organizations, trained and skilled leaders, increased grassroots engagement and deeper coordination with allies are the keys to LGBT progress,” said Vaid. “These funds will enable the Task Force’s Organizing & Training Department to expand its work to provide technical and financial assistance to organizations working to build public support for LGBT equality and repelling anti-LGBT attacks.”
During the grant period NGLTF said that new staff will be added to its Organizing & Training Department. In addition, the grant will support NGLTF’s Movement Building Department’s organizational development and work with statewide LGBT partner organizations. The Task Force is currently working intensively with Triangle Foundation in Michigan as well as statewide organizations in Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri and Washington and expects to increase this number to seven in the near future. Finally, a portion of the grant will be used to build the Task Force’s own internal capacity to support this work and sustain the organization’s growth.
Founded in 2000, the Arcus Foundation’s grant making is focused in three areas: support for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people nationally and in Michigan; improving the quality of life in Southwestern Michigan through the Arcus Gay and Lesbian Fund; and ending human cruelty and abuse of great apes by supporting conservation and sanctuaries through the Arcus Great Apes Fund. The Foundation has offices in Kalamazoo and New York City. For more information or to make a donation visit http://www.arcusfoundation.org.