Press

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force receives $3 million for organizing, training and capacity building

Date: 
January 10, 2006

Arcus Foundation sees urgent need to increase LGBT advocacy/coalition building at state and local level

MEDIA CONTACT:
Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications
media@theTaskForce.org
646.358.1465

Largest known award for LGBT advocacy

WASHINGTON, Jan. 10, 2006 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Foundation announced today that it has been awarded a combined gift of $3 million over three years from the Arcus Foundation and its founder and president, Jon Stryker, to support its nationwide campaign of organizing, capacity building, advocacy and public education to advance equal rights and respect for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

"This combined award of $3 million by Mr. Stryker and the Arcus Foundation will make a huge difference to the LGBT movement at the state and local level," said Task Force Executive Director Matt Foreman. "Not only is it the largest award ever made to the Task Force in our 33-year history, it is the largest known gift ever given directly to support movement building and advocacy in the 50-plus year history of the modern LGBT rights movement."

The contribution comes at a crucial time for the LGBT community, which is facing a tough wave of ballot initiatives, constitutional amendments and other measures seeking to deny equal rights to LGBT people and their families at the state, local and national level. Basic job discrimination laws, domestic partnership laws, civil union and marriage laws, adoption rights and family recognition are all under fire from heavily financed right-wing groups and are likely to appear on ballots in November 2006 in Arizona, California, Wisconsin, Minnesota and many other states.

The award consists of a 3-year grant for 2006-2008, of which $1 million reflects an individual contribution from Jon Stryker and $2 million from the Arcus Foundation. The award will be used to train leaders, organize local communities, strengthen coalitions between LGBT and non-gay allies, build the capacity of statewide LGBT organizations and strengthen the Task Force's own capacity.

"We strongly believe in the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, its talented staff, and experienced board leadership," said Arcus Foundation President Jon Stryker. "This is an urgent moment in the LGBT movement's effort to achieve full human rights and dignity — the work at the state and local level has never been more important. This is the ideal time to increase our investment in one of our community's most effective organizations, and we hope other donors will do so as well."

Over the past five years, Arcus has granted more than $1.6 million to the Task Force. Support from Arcus enabled the Task Force's Organizing & Training Department to become the LGBT community's most successful and experienced corps of trainers and organizers. Since 2001, the Task Force's organizing department has grown to more than 11 full-time organizers and trainers; directly trained more than 2,000 people; worked substantially with state and local organizations in 26 states; and provided meaningful education, research, training, community organizing and leadership development to support local organizations in 22 ballot initiative campaigns, of which six out of seven were successfully contested by the LGBT movement in 2002-2003 and 13 out of 22 were successfully contested over the full 5-year period.

"Stronger state and national organizations, trained and skilled leaders, increased grassroots engagement and deeper coordination with allies are the keys to LGBT progress," noted Urvashi Vaid, executive director of the Arcus Foundation. "These funds will enable the Task Force's Organizing & Training Department to expand its work to provide technical and financial assistance to organizations working to build public support for LGBT equality and repelling anti-LGBT attacks."

During the grant period, new staff will be added to the Organizing & Training Department. In addition, the grant will support the Movement Building Department's organizational development and capacity building work with statewide LGBT partner organizations. The Task Force is currently working intensively with five statewide organizations (in Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri and Washington) and expects to increase this number to seven in the near future. Finally, a portion of the grant will also be used to build the Task Force's own internal capacity to support this work and sustain the organization's remarkable growth in recent years.

About the Arcus Foundation
Founded in 2000, the Arcus Foundation seeks to contribute to a pluralistic society that celebrates diversity and dignity, invests in youth and justice, and promotes tolerance and compassion. The Foundation's grant making is focused in three areas: support for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people nationally and in Michigan; improving the quality of life in Southwestern Michigan through the Arcus Gay and Lesbian Fund; and ending human cruelty and abuse of great apes, by supporting conservation and sanctuaries through the Arcus Great Apes Fund. The Foundation has offices in Kalamazoo, Mich., and New York City. For more information, see www.arcusfoundation.org.

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.