This Community Foundation LGBT Support Has Been Strong for 17 Years in Arizona

As a continuation of our coverage of community foundations emerging as leaders in LGBT funding around the country, today’s story comes from Tucson, Arizona. But unlike the new community fund in New Orleans that we recently highlighted, which just launched an LGBT fund this summer, the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona has been supporting the local LGBT community since 1999.


One of the funds at the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona is called the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Straight (LGBT&S) Alliance Fund, and the community foundation created it 17 years ago in partnership with the National Lesbian and Gay Community Funding Partnership. Since then, it has given over 144 grants to more than 56 organizations. That might not sound like an overwhelming number of grants for a 17-year period, but with everything going on in America today for LGBT groups, it looks like support for the fund is on the rise.

The Alliance Fund recently announced 15 new grants totaling $53,200 to be spread across 11 nonprofits in the region. This is part of the fund’s 2016 competitive grant cycle. To give you a sense of what this community fund typically supports, here’s a list of the recent LGBT-related grantees: Bisbee Pride, Camp Born This Way, El Rio Foundation, KXCI Community Radio, Mariposas Sin Fronteras, Pima Council on Aging, Southern Arizona Gender Alliance, Tucson Jewish Film Festival, UA-Office of LGBTQ Affairs, and Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation.

As we’ve noticed in other parts of the country, LGBT senior citizens are a big cause of concern for community foundations. Earlier this year, the local newspaper in Tucson published an article, “LGBT Seniors Face Issues That Others Don’t,” which addressed local LGBT senior needs like fear of mistreatment, health issues, increased isolation, and safe housing.

Youth and elder LGBT issues comprise one of the fund's three interest areas. This area really targets basic needs for the elderly and homelessness, education, human services and safety for low-income youth of color. One of the other interest areas is community building for the LGBT community as a whole. And the third interest area addresses transgender issues through access to medical care, economic empowerment, and substance abuse prevention.

This year’s grant cycle was similar to last year’s, in which LGBT groups in the Tucson area saw $52,500 in grant support. But the yearly totals have steadily climbed from the $20,000 range in the mid-2000s to the $40,000 range in the early 2010s; funding is now well into the $50,000 range.

Notably, this fund isn’t just focused on the city of Tucson. The board and staff strongly encourage grant applications from organizations in rural communities because those are notoriously difficult places for LGBT individuals to thrive. However, only programs in Southern Arizona (Pima, Cochise and Santa Cruz counties) are considered for grants.

Related: A Snapshot of the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona's Funding

Learn more about how to get involved with this forward-thinking community foundation and its LGBT support at the Alliance Fund’s apply page. Grant deadlines typically fall in the spring of each year, and the fund accepts request of up to $5,000 per program.