Lifting Up Chicago’s LGBTQ+ ‘Advocates on the Ground’

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Imagine a broad and diverse community where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals are able to live in peace and harmony. Enjoy the same rights and quality of life as others. Have access to a rich offering of resources. Have the opportunities to make the region a better and safe place for all to live.

#LGBT Community Fund awards $200K to programs addressing 5 of the most urgent self-reported needs in #Chicago’s #LGBTQ community: culturally responsive #healthcare, #employment/#jobs, safety for trans people + more

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The LGBT Community Fund was founded with this vision, emerging as an advocate and funder of programs and institutions that embody all the principles of Pride Month. Since 2015, the LGBT Community Fund has granted over $1 million to 30 organizations working diligently to improve the quality of life for Chicago’s LGBTQ community.

Through four rounds of grant making that included Impact, Community and Transformational grants, the Fund has provided seed money and capacity-building resources, supported innovative projects reaching traditionally underserved populations and helped to address urgent needs in healthcare, safety and services to youth and seniors.

In May, the fund announced $200,000 in Impact Grants to eight organizations for programs serving the LGBTQ community in Chicago. The Impact Grants RFP was launched in fall 2018 as a response to the disadvantages in access to social programs related to healthcare, housing, employment, medical care, justice and legal aid, education and personal safety for the LGBT community in the Chicago region.

Representatives of eight nonprofits gather to celebrate their Impact Grants from the LGBT Community Fund. “Our grant recipients are our advocates on the ground in building and strengthening the LGBTQ community and in understanding the needs of the community,” said steering committee co-chair Ken O’Keefe.


“Our grant recipients and their collaborative partners are our advocates on the ground in building and strengthening the LGBTQ community and in understanding the needs of the community. We are honored to provide grants to support these innovative organizations doing impactful work in Chicago’s LGBTQ community,” said Ken O’Keefe, co-chair of the steering committee of the LGBT Community Fund. “Five of these organizations have received prior grants from the LGBT Community Fund and three are new grant recipients.”

Test Positive Awareness Network (TPAN) was among the three new grant recipients. “The grant will allow TPAN to increase the services and support we provide to LGBTQ youth who are homeless or in unstable housing situations,” said CEO Christopher Clark. “The funds will not only help to address the immediate needs of our clients but it will also connect them to primary medical care, counseling, HIV testing, housing assistance and other long-term support.”

The 2019 grant recipients from the LGBT Community Fund include:

  • Affinity Community Services will expand its program for LGBTQ+ older adults to include intentional intergenerational programming; inclusive, affirming workshops to make aging manageable; and social programming to combat loneliness.
  • AIDS Foundation Chicago/Pride Action Tank (PAT) will improve care for LGBTQ+ older adults living in long-term care facilities in the Chicago area by raising awareness around issues facing this community and through the dissemination of videos and a toolkit for facility staff.
  • Brave Space Alliance will promote public safety for transgender people in Chicago through grassroots organizing and self-defense training.
  • Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus will provide an in-depth scan of local services and their effectiveness, to inform the development of local HIV elimination initiatives.
  • Illinois Safe Schools Alliance will increase access to Know Your Rights materials, both online and in hard copy, by creating and distributing marketing materials and upgrading online viewing systems.
  • Night Ministry – The Crib will support the health, safety, and well-being of homeless young people ages 18-24 by providing shelter for up to 21 young people each night. Staff provide young adults with life skills counseling, referrals, HIV testing and health education.
  • Puerto Rican Cultural Center will provide a safe space for low-income and unstably housed LGBTQ youth under 24 years old.
  • Test Positive Awareness Network (TPAN) will increase their services and support to LGBTQ youth who are homeless or in unstable housing situations, connecting them to primary medical care, counseling, HIV testing, housing assistance and other long-term support.

“Organizations receiving awards from the 2019 Impact Grants are providing critical services that align with five of the seven needs identified in the 2019 Community Needs Assessment conducted by Morten Group on behalf of the LGBT Community Fund,” said Denise Foy, co-chair of the steering committee.

Those five needs include:

  • High-quality, affordable, culturally responsive and comprehensive healthcare
  • Employment/underemployment and equity in the job market
  • Support accessing quality human and government services
  • Community safety
  • Violence prevention for all

The Community Needs Assessment is also a reminder of the challenges that persist within the community and the organizations that need to be supported to address them. To continue its grant making, the LGBT Community Fund is currently raising funds toward a goal of $1.5 million, with $1 million raised to date.


The Fund’s ambitious goal cannot be achieved without your help. In celebration of Pride Month, the Fund invites your investment in the LGBT Community Fund. To make your investment even more impactful we are proud to offer two Challenge Grants: one matching contributions from new friends who have not previously contributed and one for our friends who are renewing their generous support. Donate today to enable the fund to continuously progress toward the vision.