Media release

$77,500 awarded for services to RI’s LGBTQ communities

Grants will fund everything from civil rights advocacy for families and youth to improving the quality of health care

Twelve nonprofit organizations serving the state’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) communities will share $77,500 in grants through the Equity Action Fund at the Rhode Island Foundation. The funding will support organizations engaged in efforts ranging from civil rights advocacy for families and youth to improving the delivery of health care.

The Equity Action Fund supports projects that meet the needs of the LGBTQ communities in Rhode Island. Guided by a volunteer advisory committee comprised of leaders in the LGBTQ communities, the fund has made more than $1.1 million in grants to dozens of organizations over the years.

“These organizations strive to ensure the health, safety and fair treatment of every LGBTQ Rhode Islander. As we begin recovering from the impact of COVID-19 on programs and services, the work of these organizations is more crucial than ever,” said Adrian Bonéy, who oversees the Equity Action Fund grant program at the Foundation.

GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) received $10,000 to support its ongoing youth and civil rights advocacy in Rhode Island. The work includes holding semiannual roundtables of LGBTQ advocates, providing legal support to families of LGBTQ students and strengthening the state’s protective legal framework for the LGBTQ community.

“Through our work with local LGBTQ public policy advocates, GLAD continues to unearth more needs of Rhode Island’s LGBTQ communities. Needs such as a name-change-self-help document and website as part of our Transgender ID Project. Our work will strengthen the state’s protective legal framework for LGBTQ residents,” said Janson Wu, executive director.

Haus of Codec received $10,000 to support its LGBTQQIA+ Youth Shelter, which serves youth 18 to 24, particularly those exposed to the juvenile justice system, aging out of foster care or who cannot return home because of their homes for their sexuality or gender.

"This demographic sees a more significant risk of violence and abuse in larger, less amenable shelter spaces our state has historically provided. Our six beds provide these young adults with stability that will allow them to better access what their needs are as well as a secure place to stay, a food pantry, case management, clothing pantry and access to workforce development opportunities. While traditional shelter models are focused only on the immediate needs of their patrons, we are determined to break the cycle of homelessness for our residents," said Julio Berroa, president.

Project Weber/RENEW in Providence received $10,000 to support its Transgender Outreach Project (TOP), which connects transgender and genderqueer/non-binary people at risk for overdose and living with or at risk for HIV and HCV with comprehensive case management, harm reduction services and material supports. In addition, the funding will support gender-affirming services for clients like name-change-application fees; and gender-affirming clothing items like chest binders.

“Crucially, our efforts are peer-led— the first of its kind in Rhode Island. Sharing lived experience with the communities we serve enables our staff to build trust with clients and to provide trans clients with culturally competent care.

The Providence Public Library received $3,300 to support strategic planning and capacity building for its Queer Stories Project. Part of the RI LGBTQ+ Community Archives, the project's goal is to create a collaborative and sustainable framework and funding strategy in order to grow the program through partnerships with historians and community activists and hold programs and events beginning in July 2023.

"This will be the foundation of the RI LGBTQ+ Community Archives - the state’s first LGBTQ-specific archive. We plan to grow the existing Queer StoRIes oral history project into a sustainable, collaborative, community-led model," said Jack Martin, executive director.

Queer Archive Work received $2,500 to support 10 exhibitor stipends and a zine-making workshop for 30 participants at the Queer/Trans Zinefest (QTZ) 2022, which includes Open Studio Days every other weekend for total access to the library, the studio’s publishing tools, equipment and support. Visitors will be invited to participate in zine making, writing, poetry, comics and book-arts workshops as well as open studio time for personal projects.

"All too often cultural spaces, especially small print fairs and fests, can be barred off by high tabling fees and unwieldy application processes. This will allow emerging queer and trans artists to engage in a space that centers self-expression and belonging, which is vital at a time when LGBTQIA+ lives are being vilified and legislated against," said Christopher Lee, QTZ organizer.

RIOT RI received $3,700 to provide 10 scholarships to Youth Rock Camp 2022, an intensive one-week day camp that offers LGBTQ youth ages 10 to 18 the opportunity to learn guitar, bass, drums, keyboards or vocals. Campers form a band, write an original song, and perform it live at a Final Showcase for friends, family, and fans. Campers also participate in gender-centric life skills workshops, such as: Media Literacy, Body Image & Autonomy, and Gender and Sexuality.

"We combat misrepresentation and lack of representation of LGBTQ individuals in school curriculums. Inclusive educational environments are critical for LGBTQ youths’ educational success and personal well-being. LGBTQ students who are exposed to positive representations of LGBTQ people and history report more positive school experiences and better educational outcomes," said Rikki Davis, co-executive director.

The Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre in Warwick received $2,500 to support its free classes for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual and other sexual- and gender-minority youth.

"The goal is to address issues and concerns unique to the LGBTQ+ population, including creating strong peer connection and a sense of belonging, exploration and acceptance of identity, practicing clear and effective advocacy skills, and addressing oppression and misrepresentation. We believe that using community-based theater in the context of a larger change-making strategy, will lead to healthy development for participating youth," said Amy Gravell, managing director.

Sojourner House received $8,000 to provide shelter, housing and supportive services to LGBTQ victims of intimate partner violence, sexual assault and human trafficking. The supportive services will include provides crisis intervention, LGBTQ+ support groups, case management services, criminal justice information and advocacy, police statement and court accompaniment, safety planning, assistance with researching and applying for housing, benefits and employment; free HIV testing and referrals to other programs and services.

"We are committed to working to end domestic violence in all communities. Intimate partner violence affects the LGBTQ individuals at higher rates than their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts, yet the issue is seldom addressed in the community," said Vanessa Volz, executive director.

Stages of Freedom received $5,000 to support “RI BGM: The Legacy of Black Gay Men in Rhode Island.” Housed in Stages of Freedom’s new African American Museum in downtown Providence, the exhibit will consist of multiple portable panels with text and images, and augmented by books, art, photographs, documents, ephemera, costumes and writings illuminating the contributions gay men of African descent have made to the Ocean State.

"We will show how Black gay men navigate the often repressive, claustrophobic and intimate spaces of Rhode Island, accomplish great things, and build political and cultural alliances that support, elevate and expand their lives and work," said Ray Rickman, executive director.

The Steel Yard received $2,500 to support Camp Sparkle, a 2-week-long day camp that provides training in the industrial arts for LBGTQ+ youth ages 14 to 18. Participants spend the first week in small scale metals, learning jewelry and metalsmithing techniques. In week two, they learn techniques in welding and large-scale fabrication.

"By empowering LGBTQ+ youth and building community within the industrial arts, Camp Sparkle fosters free expression of gender and sexuality in an environment of self-discovery and creativity. The camps provide a welcoming, safe environment where youth can explore and express their identities within the space of making," said Adam Chuong, education manager.

Thundermist Health Center in Warwick received $10,000 to support its Trans Health and Wellness Program, which targets adults ages 18 to 25. The goal is to improve physical and mental health, increase community contentedness and reduce social isolation. The organization reports having more than 1,500 active patients.

"Wellness programming is vital to our trans and non-binary patients," said Jayeson Watts, LICSW, Director, Trans Health, Thundermist Health Center. "These events provide socialization and community. They help patients meet new people, learn new things, and add joy and movement to their week."

Youth Pride in Providence received $10,000 to increase clinical services for at-risk, vulnerable LGBTQ+ youth, including connecting them with resources and services like applying for SNAP and housing and attaining gender-affirming care or other LGBTQ+ care in medical settings where young adults may not feel comfortable advocating for themselves.

"Growing our capacity is crucial. We are often the front line of recognizing a youth may require an escalating level of care and can make appropriate referrals. We recognize that a youth who comes in wanting to talk to someone about their depression, but also discloses they are unstably housed and food insecure, needs wrap-around care and resources, which we also provide," said Rush Frazier, executive director.

The public can support the Equity Action Fund’s work by donating to it on the Foundation’s website.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Working with generous and visionary donors, the Foundation raised $98 million and awarded $76 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities last year. Through leadership, fundraising and grant-making activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.