The Gay Community Endowment Fund of Akron Community Foundation recently awarded 17 grants totaling $42,850 for programs that positively impact the local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The community foundation’s board ratified this latest round of grants at its quarterly meeting Nov. 18.
Several grants were awarded to programs that support LGBT youth, including a $5,000 grant to Community AIDS Network/Akron Pride Initiative (CANAPI) to address the epidemic of LGBT youth homelessness in Greater Akron. The grant will provide security deposits and essential household supplies to emancipated LGBTQ youth and young adults ages 18-24 who do not have stable housing. Once housing has been secured, program staff will help these young adults identify any potential barriers to maintaining permanent housing and connect them with related community resources.
“LGBTQ individuals face social stigma, discrimination and often rejection by their families, which adds to the physical and mental strains with which all homeless persons struggle,” said Rebecca Callahan, executive director of CANAPI. “They are also often at a heightened risk of violence, abuse and exploitation, including human trafficking, compared with their heterosexual peers. This program will address these challenges, elevating the overall health of Summit County’s LGBT communities.”
Another grant will support the QUEST mentoring program at Kent State University, which pairs LGBTQ students with a supportive adult role model to help them navigate social and academic challenges. The program focuses on newly “out” students, students of color, and students from disadvantaged backgrounds, who studies show are more likely to have difficulty transitioning to college.
“The challenge is to identify students who are alienated and bring them into a safer, welcoming space,” said Ken Ditlevson, director of Kent State University’s LGBTQ Student Center. “Our mentors help connect and engage mentees within the LGBTQ community.”
Other grants this year will provide HIV testing and education, support productions of LGBT-themed plays and films, and offer counseling and support to LGBT senior citizens.
Since awarding its first grants in 2005, the Gay Community Endowment Fund has reinvested more than $435,000 into local nonprofit initiatives that promote the well-being and full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens in the Greater Akron area. To make a gift to the Gay Community Endowment Fund, visit www.akroncf.org/give/GCEF.
The following grants were awarded this year:
Akron Civic Theatre, to support the Millennial Theatre Project, which engages young adults in theater productions that emphasize diversity in sex, race, gender, sexual orientation and physical abilities, $2,500
Cleveland International Film Festival, for screenings of LGBT films in downtown Akron, $2,500
Community AIDS Network/Akron Pride Initiative, to support the annual Game Change Conference at Kent State University, which educates local social workers, teachers and health care workers about the specific needs of the LGBTQ community, $1,000
Community AIDS Network/Akron Pride Initiative, to provide housing support to homeless LGBT youth, who are more likely to become victims of violence, abuse and human trafficking than their heterosexual peers, $5,000
Domestic Violence Project Inc., to support a one-day training seminar that educates local law enforcement officers, attorneys, social workers, housing providers and clergy members about critical issues faced by the LGBTQ community, including trauma, mental illness, addiction, intimate partner violence and more, $1,000
Equality Ohio Education Fund, to advocate for nondiscrimination protections for Akron’s LGBTQ community and to create a citywide culture of inclusion through outreach and education, $2,000
Equitas Health, to support HIV testing and prevention education through targeted outreach to gay and bisexual men in Summit County, particularly in the African-American community, $4,000
Jewish Family Service of Akron Ohio, for “Reaching Akron’s Silent Generation,” a program that provides education, counseling and social support for LGBT senior citizens, $2,500
Kent State University Foundation Inc., for the QUEST mentoring program, which pairs LGBTQ students of color and economic need with a supportive adult role model, $6,000
Magical Theatre Company, to increase awareness about the Nazi persecution of LGBT individuals during the Holocaust through the production of “The Diary of Anne Frank,” as well as post-show discussions with students about discriminations the LGBT community still faces today, $1,000
Mobile Meals Inc., to provide home-delivered meals and supplements to low-income LGBTQ residents in Summit County, $1,500
None Too Fragile Theater, to support the production of “The Whale,” an award-winning play featuring a gay protagonist who finds beauty in unexpected places, $1,000
OutSupport Inc., to increase the visibility of this local LGBTQ advocacy group through community outreach and promotional materials, $2,850
PFLAG Akron, to support the Teen Pride Network, which offers positive social support and activities for LGBT youth who feel isolated in their school, home or community, $4,000
Rape Crisis Center, to support outreach to LGBT survivors of sexual assault, $1,000
TransOhio Inc., to provide free legal clinics to help people in the transgender community change their name and gender on legal documents, $3,000
Weathervane Community Playhouse, to advance the community dialogue about gender identity development in children through a production of “A Kid Like Jake” and a free workshop for education professionals, $2,000
About the Gay Community Endowment Fund
Founded in 2001, the Gay Community Endowment Fund is a permanent philanthropic endowment of Akron Community Foundation. It facilitates and perpetuates philanthropy by supporting programs and services that support or positively impact the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, as well as the entire Greater Akron community. Since its inception, the fund has grown to more than $1 million while reinvesting more than $435,000 into the community. Contributions of any amount are welcome and support future grant-making. Checks may be sent to the Gay Community Endowment Fund of Akron Community Foundation, 345 W. Cedar St., Akron, OH 44307-2407. For more information, or to contribute, call 330-376-8522 or visit www.gaycommunityfund.org.
About Akron Community Foundation
Celebrating 61 years of building community philanthropy, Akron Community Foundation embraces and enhances the work of charitable people who make a permanent commitment to the good of the community. In 1955, a $1 million bequest from the estate of Edwin Shaw established the community foundation. As of Sept. 30, 2016, it is a philanthropic endowment of more than $190 million with a growing family of 550 funds established by charitable people and organizations from all walks of life. The community foundation and its funds welcome gifts of all kinds, including cash, bequests, stock, real estate, life insurance and retirement assets, just to name a few. To date, the community foundation’s funds have awarded more than $135 million in grants to qualified nonprofit organizations. For more information about Akron Community Foundation or to learn more about creating your own charitable fund, call 330-376-8522 or visit www.akroncf.org.