CHICAGO Aug.1, 2022 Brave Space Alliance, the South Side LGBTQ+ Center, announced a sweeping new plan to increase the organization's base salary to $43,000 for entry-level staff, equivalent to an hourly wage of $20.67/hr.
According to Brave Space Alliance, the organization already offers the entry-level pay that is above that of several larger LGBTQ+ organizations in Chicago.
Brave Space CEO LaSaia Wade announced that the increase in salary will also come with an expansion in benefits, and an increase in flexibility for staff members. In addition to Gold and Platinum level medical plans, BSA also offers full-time staff unlimited time off, vision and dental insurance, a variety of unique benefits designed for the organization's all-trans staff, and an Employee Assistance Fund for staff members who incur unexpected emergency expenses. The new plan also provides new life insurance coverage for BSA employees, and will allow staff members to convert their allocation from the Employee Assistance Fund into salary, so they can see more money in each check.
CEO Wade noted the new compensation plan was made possible by a reallocation of existing organizational resources, with an eye towards sustainability. "For the past five years, since BSA was founded, we've been going in so many different directions at the same time, especially once the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Brave Space has been so focused on meeting peoples' needs "in the moment," that we didn't have the opportunity until now to plan for meeting those needs next year, or five years down the road," she said. "BSA has benefited greatly from support by our funders, community partners, and thousands of community members who contribute every year. We owe it to all of our supporters, our staff, and first and foremost to our community to make sure that we focus on making BSA sustainable, so that we can continue the work of Black and trans liberation together."
Brave Space Alliance also is challenging other LGBTQ organizations in Chicago to make similar changes in their pay structures. "LGBTQ people, especially the Black and Brown trans people that make up the vast majority of our staff, face economic insecurity at a rate much, much higher than other populations," said COO Stephanie Skora. "Accounting for salary, benefits, payroll taxes, and other expenses, it costs BSA a minimum of $60,000 to have someone on our team, but our staff are worth it, and we are consistent in figuring out ways to get it done." Skora added, "In many ways, BSA is still a small, start-up organization. If we can make this happen, for our community and our staff, then other LGBTQ organizations who have been around for 20 or 30 years can get it done, too."
BSA said the new plan will take effect in January 2023 to give the organization time to prepare and raise the funds necessary to support new and existing staff.
ABOUT BRAVE SPACE ALLIANCE: Brave Space Alliance is the first Black-led, trans-led LGBTQ Center located on the South Side of Chicago, dedicated to creating and providing affirming, culturally competent, for-us by-us resources, programming, and services for LGBTQ individuals on the South and West sides of the city. Founded in 2017, the organization has been responsible for major changes in policy, and has brought attention and care to the needs of Black and Brown trans people across Chicago. www.bravespacealliance.org