OVERVIEW: The New York-based Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice has operated since 1977. Billing itself as "the only philanthropic organization working exclusively to advance LGBTQI human rights around the globe," Astraea "funds lesbian-and trans-led organizations and cultural media projects that directly address the depth and complexities of lesbian and trans issues."
IP TAKE: Astraea is both well-funded and quite accessible to initial grantseekers, even those of modest name recognition. Astraea's identity and funding strategy focus mainly on advocacy for lesbians and transgender individuals.
PROFILE: Though it's a publicly funded foundation, Astraea is no small player. The leadership at Astraea, led by Executive Director J. Bob Alotta, prioritizes work benefiting lesbians, transgender individuals, people of color, and the arts. The foundation is considerably more open to initial grantseekers and organizations lacking name recognition than many of its peers in the industry.
Working exclusively on LGBTQI issues, Astrea has four categories of funds:
- Its International Fund "supports groups led by LGBTQI communities working for progressive social change, addressing oppression based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity and expression, and advancing work for racial, economic, and gender justice."
- Astrea's U.S. Fund "directs grants to organizations that advance LGBTQ racial and economic justice."
- The Intersex Human Rights Fund "supports organizations, projects and timely campaigns led by intersex activists working to ensure the human rights, bodily autonomy, physical integrity and self-determination of intersex people."
- The Global Arts Fund "showcases and connects impactful art by LGBTQI people and organizations that are using art as a tool for social transformation and have limited access to resources."
In addition, Astrea engages in "Philanthropic Advocacy" with other funders focused on "education, advocacy and collaboration to build a strong, cohesive, well-informed community of grantees, donors, and funders." (Read more here.)
While Astraea's annual financial statements include a few repeat grantees, the foundation is unsurprisingly accommodating to first-time grantseekers, offering grants to individuals as well as grassroots and large organizations. Its areas of focus in grantmaking include anti-criminalization and freedom from violence, arts and cultural activism, economic justice, racial justice, trans human rights, network-building, and anti-discrimination protections. These areas are explained in more detail here and include descriptions of some of Astrea's recent grant recipients.
Astraea's recent grantmaking provides good insight into the foundation's overall approach and philosophy. Astraea's funding is described in more detail on its grant application page as well as in its annual reports, which can be found on the publications section of its web site.
Overall, the foundation has demonstrated over many years its dedication to the cause of LGBTQI equality. Grantseekers should be aware of the particularly specific process for submitting letters of interest and applying for funding at Astraea; detailed instructions for each of its funding programs can be found here.
- J. Bob Alotta, Executive Director