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Nonprofits serving LGBTQ communities receive nearly $60,000 in grants
By Chris Barnett / December 4, 2017 /   Loading Disqus...

Eight nonprofit organizations serving the state’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) communities received nearly $60,000 in grants through its Equity Action Fund at the Rhode Island Foundation. The money will fund services ranging from wellness programs for the transgender community to intimate partner violence prevention.

“These organizations work to ensure the health, safety and fair treatment of all LGBTQ Rhode Islanders,” said Adrian Bonéy, in photo above, 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.”

Family Service of Rhode Island (FSRI) was awarded $5,000 to protect LGBTQQI children in the child welfare system by expanding the capacity of the cross-agency Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning and Intersex/Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, Expression Committee.

“These youth bear the effects of significant trauma when coming out to their family – reactions such as hatred, rejection, neglect and abuse. Unfortunately, child welfare providers are often not well-equipped to create a trusting environment in which the LGBTQQI youth can disclose their identity, nor provide adequate support/protection against continued discrimination and abuse,” said Sarah Kelly-Palmer, vice president, Trauma, Loss and Victims Services. “We will expand welcoming and supportive practices into Rhode Island’s inter-connected network of child welfare providers and professionals.”

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.

“While our outreach has increased substantially, LGBTQ 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 Wu, executive director, in photo above.

The Foundation awarded $6,000 to support the Fourth Annual Rhode Island Trans Health Conference. Planned for April 2018, the one-day event, which is co-sponsored by the School of Social Work at Rhode Island College, the TGI Network of Rhode Island and the Department of Family Medicine at Brown University, will bring together medical and behavioral health providers and transgender community members for shared learning.

“Our goal is to increase capacity for medical and behavioral health care for transgender individuals in Rhode Island and surrounding communities and provide a forum for members of the transgender community to discuss their medical, behavioral and legal health care needs,” said Dr. Fadya El Rayess of Brown University. For more information about the conference, visit tginetwork.org.

New Urban Arts of Providence received nearly $5,000 for the Untitlement Project, which enabled 10 low-income youth to use writing and art to explore issues of identity, including gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

“Our students investigated stereotypes, media awareness, violence, anger, vulnerability, loneliness, love and relationships. The goal of the Untitlement Project, which we offer every summer, is to raise consciousness and explore inequities around privilege, power and language,” said Daniel Schleifer, executive director, at left. “They grow through deep listening, hard questions and vibrant, challenging dialogue. Notably, since we began offering this program, the number of LGBTQ students enrolling in our other programs has nearly doubled."

Project Weber/RENEW was awarded $10,000 to support its Transgender Peer Outreach Project, which is the only program in the state specifically utilizing transgender peer staffers to reach out to, and provide services to, high risk transgender men and women.

“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, photo above.

Sojourner House received $7,500 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 was awarded $7,000 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.

“We plan to expand behavioral health services to include psychiatric services delivered by a trans-identified provider. In addition, we will create social and community-building opportunities for the trans community. The objective is to expand upon our successful Trans Yoga and Trans Swim events to add more opportunities for activities centered around the transgender and non-binary community that promote health and wellness,” said Lauren Nocera, associate vice president of program development.

Youth Pride received $9,100 to expand its statewide Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) coalition, which provides resources and support to schools wishing to build support for LGBTQQ students and eliminate homophobia and transphobia in their schools. The strategies include convening monthly meetings with youth members from GSA groups throughout Rhode Island, increasing outreach to local gay/straight alliances and offering regional programming for GSAs.

"We work with schools at the middle, high school, and college level. 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 Elana Rosenberg, executive director.

There were 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.

The Equity Action Fund is guided by a volunteer advisory committee comprised of leaders in the LGBTQ communities. Since 2004, Equity Action has made more than $800,000 in grants to dozens of organizations.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. In 2016, the Foundation awarded a record $45 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities. Through leadership, fundraising and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.

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