Fairness in Philanthropy: A Case Study of the Arise Project

Monday, July 23, 2018

This post is part one of a series from PFund Foundation on the work of the BEtter OUTcomes Initiative. Look for more in the series in the weeks ahead!

United Way Arise Project was established to bring caring professionals together to support the lives of LGBTQ homeless youth. Since its inception the initiative has raised $1 million for local organizations creating pathways for LGBTQ homeless youth to feel safe and thrive. On Give OUT Day 2018, Arise Project raised an incredible $25,399 from 366 donors. All funds will be used for grants creating programming and services for LGBTQ homeless youth.

Arise Project is an inspiring example of a philanthropic partnership, identifying connected issues within the LGBTQ population, and coming together to create innovative solutions. There are nearly 1.6 million young people in the United States that experience homelessness every year, and 4,700 youth and children are homeless on any given night in Minnesota. According to a study by the Williams Institute, LGBTQ youth represent just 7% of the country’s population, which is a heartbreaking 40% of the youth homeless population.

Evidence shows that despite Minnesota having a long history of generous overall grantmaking, when it comes to LGBTQ issues, the Midwest falls behind every other region in the country in our generosity. LGBTQ people don’t have a level playing field when it comes to educational outcomes, access to culturally sensitive healthcare, employment and income, and other critical social indicators. Research shows that many LGBTQ youth are homeless because they ran away due to their family rejecting their sexual orientation or gender identity, and many experience abuse and neglect as well.  The data are eye opening to the intersections of issues LGBTQ communities face. We have a lot of work to do, but it is encouraging to see initiatives like Arise Project leading the philanthropic community in raising awareness and resources to address these issues.

Sam Blackwell, Community Impact Program Manager at The Greater Twin Cities United Way, shared the LGBTQ-focused work Arise Project is leading in the Minnesota philanthropic community.

“I oversee all our grants and partnerships in preventing and ending homelessness, part of which is the Arise project. I help introduce Arise donors to quality programs supporting LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness and work with our youth housing partners to try and develop LGBTQ programming to support the 40% of homeless youth who identify as LGBTQ. But I also know that that work doesn’t end with the Arise Project – it’s also important for us to bring an understanding of the unique needs of LGBTQ communities to all of our work.”

It's inspiring to see foundations taking the initiative to create innovative solutions for LGBTQ focused initiatives. Sam shared his insight on how other grantmakers can do the same.

“There’s a lot that grantmakers can do to support LGBTQ initiatives and people – we have examples in Fairness in Philanthropy for people at every level and role in an organization,” Sam shared.  Fairness in Philanthropy is a resource guide to support funders in Minnesota level the playing field in LGBTQ funding.  This helpful report includes national data and research on LGBTQ issues, as well as tools to utilize in the work, such as the Appropriate Standards for LGBTQ grantmaking. 

Sam added his experience in this important work, “One thing that I think is critical for grantmakers is to understand that no matter what our priorities are, LGBTQ people are a part of that. LGBTQ people participate in art, in healthcare, in housing, in education, they live in every community in every region of our state, and if we’re not being intentional inclusive, we could be unintentionally excluding LGBTQ folks. It’s important for us to seek out LGBTQ organizations and initiatives where they exist, and to help build the competency and capacity of providers where they don’t.”

Sam is also part of the Better OUTcomes Initiative (BOI) Steering Committee, inspiring Minnesota grantmakers to raise money, change mindsets, and build leadership to foster skilled, sensitive grantmaking, inclusive philanthropic organizations, and sustainable, adequate resources to support LGBTQ-serving organizations and initiatives. 

Grantmakers hoping to get more involved in this important work are able to participate in the Learning Community of Practice (LCOP), and the LGBTQ Funders Working Group.  With these opportunities grantmakers and allies are able to connect, share their experiences in the work, and develop skills together. 

The LCOP and LGBTQ Funders Working Group provides opportunities to:

  • Engage in peer learning and networking to develop best practices that support intentional, LGBTQ-inclusive grantmaking
  • Raise awareness about LGBTQ issues
  • Develop public policy and systems change
  • Explore action to increase philanthropic investment in the LGBTQ community.

Arise Project at United Way exemplifies the kind of skilled, sensitive grantmaking and provision of adequate support for LGBTQ-focused concerns.  With a few motivated individuals inspiring their network, they have increased support for case management services, safe living accommodations, expanded outreach and service areas, improved technology and training for service providers.  We all have the ability to create change in our communities. 

By attending BOI events, engaging with your networks, identifying issues, and building solutions, you can join the momentum to support this important work in the LGBTQ community.  For more information on events and opportunities in the Learning Community of Practice and LGBTQ Funders Working Group visit our website at http://boi.pfundfoundation.org.

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