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Gay Community Endowment Fund announces $60,000 in grants

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Impact grant will support new LGBTQ+ resource center in Akron

Bayard Rustin LGBTQ+ Resource Center
The Bayard Rustin LGBTQ+ Resource Center

On Friday, the Gay Community Endowment Fund of Akron Community Foundation announced 16 grants totaling $60,000 to programs that enhance the quality of life of Greater Akron’s LGBTQ+ community.

For the fourth consecutive year, the fund awarded impact grants to programs that create safer environments for LGBTQ+ youth, combat phobias of the LGBTQ+ community, and support mental health and suicide prevention programs for LGBTQ+ people.

Impact grants totaling $41,500 were awarded to seven nonprofit organizations, including the Akron AIDS Collaborative, which received a $7,500 grant to support the Bayard Rustin LGBTQ+ Resource Center. This new community collaboration "provides a safe space for LGBTQ+ people of color, who often lack social connection and face intersectional challenges," said the Rev. Robert Dreese, senior pastor of First Grace United Church of Christ, which is serving as the fiscal agent for the project.

The resource center provides emergency housing referrals, job readiness training, mental health counseling, and other comprehensive support services for LGBTQ+ people of color throughout Summit County. The center also hosts free weekly homestyle dinners and provides an on-site food pantry for community members experiencing food insecurity.

"Even before COVID-19, LGBTQ+ youth were at higher risk for depression, suicide and substance use," said Steve Arrington, director of the Akron AIDS Collaborative. "During the pandemic, these risks were further compounded by the loss of relationships in schools, clubs and other community venues where LGBTQ+ youth found support and affirmation. Our center will remedy this by providing a safe and engaging space where they can foster meaningful connections."

Other grants awarded by the Gay Community Endowment Fund this year will expand outreach efforts to aging LGBTQ+ adults, provide gender-affirming health care services for LGBTQ+ youth, and support inclusivity training seminars for small-business owners, among other initiatives.

The following is a full list of organizations receiving grants this year:

  • Akron AIDS Collaborative, to support the Bayard Rustin LGBTQ+ Resource Center, which provides emergency housing referrals, food assistance, job readiness training, and mental health services for LGBTQ+ people of color in Summit County, $7,500
  • Akron Children’s Hospital, to provide gender-affirming health care services for LGBTQ+ youth and young adults from low-income families, $5,000
  • Akron Civic Theatre, to support the Millennial Theatre Project, which engages underrepresented young adults in theater productions, including those in the LGBTQ+ community, $1,500
  • The Buckeye Flame, to support the "Ignite Action" series, which will amplify the stories of LGBTQ+ community members through broadcasted panel discussions, $5,000
  • CANAPI, to provide food, transportation and rental assistance for LGBTQ+ youth experiencing housing instability, $3,000
  • Child Guidance & Family Solutions, to create a mental health services hub for LGBTQ+ people in Summit County by providing suicide prevention and individual counseling services, family support groups, community outreach programming, and a more inclusive office building and culture,  $6,000
  • Greenleaf Family Center, to provide mental health support groups for LGBTQ+ adults and adolescents in Greater Akron, $6,000
  • Kent State University Foundation, to support the QUEST mentorship program, which pairs LGBTQ+ students with a supportive adult role model, $3,000
  • OutSupport, for community outreach, education and advocacy efforts that promote the health and equality of LGBTQ+ people in Medina and surrounding communities, $2,250
  • Plexus Education Foundation, to support cultural competency training sessions to help small-business owners implement LGBTQ+ inclusive practices, $2,000
  • Rape Crisis Center, to support staff training to enhance the organization’s therapy services for LGBTQ+ survivors of sexual violence in Summit and Medina counties, $1,250
  • Summa Health, to expand access to LGBTQ+ patient care at the Summa Health Pride Clinic, $5,000
  • University of Akron Foundation, to support a graduate assistant position to spearhead the university’s services for LGBTQ+ students, $7,000
  • University of Akron Foundation, to support a speaker series for LGBTQ+ students and allies during the 2022-23 school year, $1,500
  • VANTAGE Aging, to support community outreach and education efforts for aging LGBTQ+ adults, $2,500
  • Victim Assistance Program, to support inclusive outreach materials and staff trainings to enhance the organization’s services for LGBTQ+ survivors of violence, $1,500

About the Gay Community Endowment Fund
Founded in 2001, the Gay Community Endowment Fund is a permanent philanthropic endowment of Akron Community Foundation. The fund advances a lived equality for all LGBTQ+ people in Greater Akron by investing in strategic and responsive grantmaking that empowers the LGBTQ+ community and its allies. Since its inception, the fund has grown to $2.2 million while reinvesting more than $690,000 into the community. Contributions of any amount are welcome and support future grantmaking. Checks should be sent to Akron Community Foundation, 345 W. Cedar St., Akron, OH 44307, with Gay Community Endowment Fund in the memo line. Donations may also be designated for the GCEF Scholarship Fund. For more information, or to contribute, call 330-376-8522 or visit www.gaycommunityfund.org.

About Akron Community Foundation
Celebrating 66 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. It is a philanthropic endowment of nearly $300 million with a growing family of more than 780 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 nearly $206 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.

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