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“Trans communities a100%cross the country are under attack,” wrote Aldita Gallardo, program officer for the Fund for Trans Generations, in a recent guest post for Inside Philanthropy, urging grantmakers to respond. That isn’t hyperbole: Anti-LGBTQ+ laws that will have very real impacts on people’s lives are being passed across the United States. A recent round-up called 2021 “the worst year in history for the number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills signed into law.”

Here are some of the funders that have been supporting the grassroots movements working to resist this trend and advance LGBTQ+ equality and social justice in the U.S.

The Fund for Trans Generations at Borealis Philanthropy 

The Fund for Trans Generations invests in trans-led organizing to support a future where transgender, gender non-conforming and nonbinary people live with freedom, safety and self-determination. Borealis Philanthropy also hosts the Emerging LGBTQ Leaders of Color Fund, which supports young trans and queer leaders of pro-LGBTQ and racial justice movements. In July of 2020, the Fund for Trans Generations received a $2 million unrestricted gift from MacKenzie Scott as part of her inaugural round of grants—the largest commitment the fund had received to date.

Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice

Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice bills itself as the only philanthropic organization working exclusively to advance LGBTQI human rights around the world, and its work is rooted in LGBTQI communities and movements. It’s also one of the oldest LGBTQ+ funders in the United States, dating back to the late 1970s. Astraea is a public foundation known as an accessible grantmaker. Its U.S. fund makes grants to organizations led by LGBTQ+ people of color fighting for racial and economic justice.

Groundswell Fund

Groundswell Fund is led by women of color and trans people of color who come out of community, labor and electoral organizing. Its focus is on strengthening U.S. movements for reproductive and social justice, and it is one of the leading funders of organizations rooted in LGBTQ+ communities of color in the United States. Funds at Groundswell include the Black Trans Fund and The Liberation Fund, which supports intersectional organizing by women of color and transgender people of color across U.S. social movements. Through its Blueprint plan, launched in late 2020, Groundswell aims to move $100 million to reproductive rights advocacy and electoral organizations run by women and trans people of color, including via collaboration with other funders.

Horizons Foundation

The longest-standing LGBTQ+ community foundation, Horizons was the first U.S. foundation to make a grant to an AIDS service provider, back in 1982. Today, Horizons is still active, backing groups working to “create a world where all LGBTQ people live freely and fully,” with a focus on grassroots solutions and small to mid-sized organizations in the Bay Area.

Trans Justice Funding Project

This community-led funding initiative supports grassroots groups run by and for trans people in the United States. It funds groups with budgets smaller than $250,000. Founded in 2012, the project operates as a non-charitable trust, and groups don’t need to be a 501(c)(3) to apply. Though the project was initially a 501(c)(3), its leadership switched to this more unorthodox structure to reduce the administrative burden for the small, trans-led organizations it funds. The Trans Justice Funding Project’s grant application is open to any trans-led community organization within the United States with an operational budget of less than $250,000 per year.

Third Wave Fund

Third Wave Fund makes grants to small community- and youth-led organizations working toward gender justice. It specifically resources grassroots movements that are multi-issue, community-led and “unapologetically queer, trans, intersex and sex worker-led.” It was co-founded in the mid-1990s by Shannon Liss and Rebecca Walker, the writer and activist credited with coining the term “third-wave feminism.”

Arcus Foundation

“Queer leadership is changing the face of social justice movements and creating the civil rights movements of our time,” said Desiree Flores, program director of the Social Justice Program at the Arcus Foundation, in an interview for IP’s State of American Philanthropy report on giving for LGBTQ+ issues. Founded by Jon Stryker, heir to a medical equipment supply fortune, Arcus is a large, private foundation and one of the leading LGBTQ-focused funders in the country. Its Social Justice Program funds in 12 countries, supporting movement building and community-level grassroots groups, as well as large national organizations. In addition to its LGBTQ+ rights work, Arcus is one of the leading grantmakers working to conserve great apes.

Foundation for a Just Society 

Foundation for a Just Society makes grants to support feminist and LGBTQI movements in the U.S. southeast, while also funding in several other regions around the globe. It’s arguably the most progressive of the many philanthropies connected with Renaissance Technologies—it’s the giving vehicle of Audrey Cappell, a daughter of the hedge fund’s billionaire founder Jim Simons. The foundation is known for providing multi-year general operating support, and Funders for LGBTQ Issues has recognized the foundation as one of the leading funders of movement organizations rooted in LGBTQ communities of color.

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