After five years of research, planning and fundraising, the LGBT Community Fund of The Chicago Community Trust and Affiliates is launching this month with a call for letters of inquiry for its first round of funding.
In 2010, Chicago Community Trust gave $500,000 as a permanent endowment for the fund, which was then required to raise $1 million in matching funds to be used for grantmaking. The LGBT Fund Steering Committee has been overseeing fundraising and structure for the new fund.
Marcia Lipetz, a consultant with Millennia Consulting, has been hired to staff the grantmaking. She was the first full-time executive director of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and of what is now the Alphawood Foundation.
Thanks in part to a $150,000 matching challenge from the Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust, the group has raised more than $735,000. These funds will be awarded in three cycles, to be completed by 2016. About $300,000 will be awarded by this summer, $400,000 next winter and $300,000 by fall 2016.
The deadline for letters of inquiry for the first cycle, for "Impact Grants" between $10,000-$25,000, is April 15. Cycle 2 "Transformation Grants" will range from $50,000 to $150,000; letters of inquiry will be due Fall 2015. Cycle 3 grants have not been determined, but letters will be due Spring 2016.
If an agency makes it past the letters of inquiry round, they will be asked to submit a complete grant application. Projects will not be eligible to receive more than one round of funding during the first two cycles. The fund also encourages collaborations.
The fund will only cover projects in Cook County that are in the four priority areas determined by a large-scale community survey in 2011-2012:
LGBTQ young adults, 24 and younger: Healthcare, mental health services and drug/alcohol treatment; employment training and placement; homelessness; age-appropriate cultural and social activities; mentoring.
Older adults, 55 and over: Healthcare, including behavioral health ( mental health and addiction ); employment re-training and placement; housing; cultural and social activities; wellness, quality of life, and independent living; information regarding rights and services.
General health care: Equal access and treatment, regardless of orientation or gender identity; mental health services; HIV-AIDS awareness and care.
Community safety: Safety within lived community spaces and/or domestic partnerships/civil unions/marriage; improved communication between the community and law enforcement; violence prevention and promotion of safety within communities.
The Fund hired Mary Morten's The Morten Group in 2011 to conduct a needs assessment in Chicago's LGBT community. Through online surveys, community drop boxes, focus groups and interviews, Morten Group collected data from more than 2,000 Chicagoans of various sexual orientations, gender identities, ages, races, socioeconomic backgrounds and residential areas.
As reported June 27, 2012, in Windy City Times, the assessment "acknowledged five key needs based on participant rankings from most to least in terms of the urgency with which the government should address each issue. Starting with the most urgent, they are: 1 ) affordable health and services care; 2 ) employment; 3 ) access to government benefits, rights and services; 4 ) discrimination; and 5 ) community safety and violence."
Morten said of the findings: "I think [the ordering of these needs] clearly indicates that despite the fact that we're an underrepresented group of people and despite the fact people try to make us seem 'different,' we still have the same needs as the larger population."
The assessment also highlighted seven common themes found throughout the range of data collected, as WCT reported in 2012: 1 ) senior needs; 2 ) similarities between youth needs and senior needs; 3 ) family needs; 4 ) needs of the unemployed and underemployed; 5 ) diversity within the community; 6 ) impact of the recession on the community; and 7 ) the need to focus financial resources on existing services and underserved areas.
The "vision" of the fund is stated as: "The Fund envisions a region where the LGBT Community lives responsibly in peace and harmony with all communities, enjoys the same freedoms and quality of life as others, and has the same opportunity to make the region a better and safer place for all to live."
Its mission is stated this way: "To benefit greater Chicago's LGBT Community through: grantmaking that improves the quality of life for its members; and identifying and focusing resources for the community and those institutions that support it."
The LGBT Steering Committee for the fund is: Prudence R. Beidler, co-chair; Ryan VanMeter, co-chair; and members James L. Alexander, Ramesh Ariyanayakam, Maree Bullock, Gregory C. Cameron, Denise C. Foy, Elizabeth Garibay, Adnaan Hamid, Alan Harder, Ken O'Keefe, Patrick Sheahan and Sandra L. Wagner
An information session will be held at The Chicago Community Trust, 225 N. Michigan Ave, Suite 2200 March 18, 2015 from 3-5 p.m. Because of building security, those who plan to attend must register with at email@example.com by March 16.
Marcia Lipetz can be reached here: CCTLGBTFund@gmail.com .
Also see www.cct.org/impact/partnerships-initiatives/strengthening-communities/lgbt-community-fund .
The full Needs Assessment report can be accessed here: www.cct.org/sites/cct.org/files/CCT_LGBTNeedsAssessment_0712.pdf .
Windy City Times reported in 2012 on the Needs Assessment report from Morten Group: www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Looking-at-the-Needs-Assessment-data-results-/38395.html .