The Denver-based Gill Foundation has always tackled an unusually broad range of challenges facing the LGBT community (see Gill Foundation: Grants for LGBT). This approach stands in contrast to other funders that maintain a singular focus on a specific, high-profile issue, usually marriage equality. Judging by some recent decisions made at the foundation, Gill's uniquely creative style of funding and advocacy will continue under new President and CEO Courtney Cuff.
Colorado-based funding comprises about 10% of Gill's total giving in an average year. Founder Tim Gill is very loyal to his state; he originally started the foundation in response to a particularly regressive ballot initiative in Colorado that aimed to severely restrict the rights of LGBT's. Devoting resources at the state level, as opposed to only focusing on the more glamorous national scene, is clearly important to him, and this philosophy has permeated the foundation.
Two recent developments illustrate Gill's ongoing, multi-faceted commitment to the State of Colorado.
First, Gill's state-based wing, the Gay & Lesbian Fund for Colorado, announced a $50,000 donation to the United Ways of Colorado Flood Recovery Fund. The money will be appropriated to help fund the "Colorado Rising" benefit concert for flood relief, following one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the state. Traditionally, Gill's funding approach at the national level has included mostly large-scale grants, while its state-based portfolio is overwhelmingly comprised of modest grants in the range of $2,500 to $5,000. This $50,000 donation is notable for its magnitude and it will likely enhance the foundation's reputation in its home state.
Gill has come to the defense of another group of victims in the State of Colorado: LGBT high school athletes who are mistreated due to their sexual orientation. In what has been described as a "groundbreaking move," the Colorado High School Activities Association, which oversees all high school sports in the state, has, with some partners, launched an awareness campaign about bullying and homophobia in sports. The Gill Foundation is providing funding to the major partner in the effort, an organization called "You Can Play Colorado!" The campaign includes asking all Colorado schools to make a video expressing their participation and openness to LGBT athletes.
This looks like smart strategy for Gill. Getting involved in flood relief and playing a key role in a historic anti-bullying campaign could raise the foundation's profile and create a lot of goodwill across the state. It could also further signify to grantseekers that, under new leadership, Gill will continue to be one of the more innovative LGBT foundations.