August 14, 2018
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For years, BCF’s donors have committed to many causes to improve Baltimore, like improving our schools and and promoting resident-led neighborhood work. With the creation of the LGBTQ Fund at BCF, our donors are now ready to help provide life-sustaining and life-affirming supports for Baltimore's diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer, community, particularly vulnerable young people.
The LGBTQ Fund at BCF was unveiled July 18 to a group of about 80 people at an event hosted by BCF. The event included a roundtable discussion on issues facing the LGBTQ community.
Leaders from organizations representing many LGBTQ constituencies participated on the panel and shared the challenges they face in their work. They shared stories and data on issues related to housing, healthcare, education and family acceptance that face many LGBTQ youth.
The panel, moderated by Monica Mitchell, Vice President Community Development at Wells Fargo, took questions from the audience and addressed them from their perspectives as teachers, healthcare professionals, legal aides and non-profit leaders.
Jabari Lyles, of GLSEN Baltimore, described the challenges he faces when he’s training teachers on how to help LGBTQ students in Baltimore’s schools. Kenneth Morrison of DewMore Baltimore told stories about the poems that kids in his program write about their experiences dealing with the reactions of some of their peers to their identities. Ava Pipitone of the Baltimore Transgender Alliance shared how important it is for transgender people to lead organizations addressing the problems facing the transgender community.
(Panelists included M. Saida Agostini, FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture; Kate Bishop, Chase Brexton LGBT Health Resource Center; Jabari Lyles, GLSEN Baltimore; Kenneth Morrison, DewMore Baltimore; Ava Pipitone, Baltimore Transgender Alliance; Mark Procopio, FreeState Justice; and Cindy WiIliams, Loving Arms, Maryland Division.)
“That’s why we’re here: to continue to learn what the needs are and formalize our efforts,” said Steve Ziger, a BCF trustee who has been part of conversations on BCF’s LGBTQ work. “We know we’re in a learning mode. We know we still have a long way to go.”
Ziger said that BCF aims to raise $200,000 for the fund, which will be non-endowed initially. Grantmaking would begin in 2019 with an advisory committee guiding the focus of the fund.
Mitchell shared some great news during the event July 18: Wells Fargo is providing an opening gift of $25,000 to the fund.
“Wells Fargo’s commitment and service to the LGBTQ community dates back 30 years and continues to grow year after year,” says Mitchell. “Through working with organizations like Baltimore Community Foundation, we are able to continue our support by providing the necessary resources and education to help the LGBT community in Baltimore.”
For Mitchell, ensuring that LGBTQ youth have the same opportunities as everyone else is a personal issue. One of her children came out to her as gay several years ago.
“When I hear the statistics and challenges facing LGBTQ youth, I need my son – and other youth – to know that we find that unacceptable and we are going to bring resources to this that will address them,” she said.