Today the Campaign for Southern Equality will reopen applications for our COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Grants, which provide immediate financial support of $250 to LGBTQ people in the South. The easy application process quickly moves funds to people experiencing the health and financial impacts of the pandemic and its secondary consequences, with a focus on people and communities who are at particularly high risk. Applicants can use the funding for basic needs like groceries, rent/mortgage payments, prescriptions or medical bills, prevention supplies, and more.
This new round increases the total amount of funding opened up through the Campaign for Southern Equality’s COVID-19 Rapid Response Grant program to $335,000 since March 2020, with the majority directly supporting individuals and families.
The South is home to an estimated 5.1 million LGBTQ adults. Research has demonstrated that LGBTQ people are disproportionately vulnerable to the health risks of COVID-19, including members of the community being less likely to have health insurance than non-LGBTQ people. LGBTQ people include people of color, senior citizens, people with immune conditions and people with chronic disease, those groups at highest risk for serious cases of COVID-19. LGBTQ people are also first responders, health care providers, and employees in the industries that have already been impacted by the economic downturn resulting from COVID-19.
Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, said today:
“Just over a year ago, a few days after the COVID-19 pandemic prompted stay-at-home orders and spiraled many already-marginalized folks into economic turmoil, we quickly opened up our COVID-19 Special Grants Program to provide direct emergency grants to LGBTQ Southerners and their families and support frontline organizations providing direct services. Since then we’ve opened up $335,000 in grassroots grants to support LGBTQ Southerners through the pandemic. These grants helped to tangibly support folks through a challenging period and served as an important model for how swift grassroots action can make a difference in a time of crisis. We’re grateful for everyone who has contributed to the program, and we’re committed to showing up for LGBTQ Southerners in every sphere of life.”
The COVID-19 Rapid Response Grant Program was supported by several of our partners, including Blue Ridge Pride, Gender Benders, Southern Vision Alliance, We Are Family, and foundations including the Arcus Foundation; the Families and Workers Fund, a funders collaborative that includes the Ford Foundation, Schmidt Futures, and Open Society Foundation; Freeman Foundation, Laughing Gull Foundation; the Amy Mandel Fund; the Out in the South Initiative of Funders for LGBTQ Issues; the Momentum Fund; the Jesse Smith Noyes Foundation; and the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.
Several Emergency Assistance Grant recipients shared their stories about how the grant helped. Here are a few:
Deven Balsam • North Carolina: “The Emergency Assistance Grant helped me support my family. I’m a single father of three teenagers, one of whom is special needs. In times of emergency there is rarely a long-term plan. The plan is every day, just making sure my kids are provided for and we’re all healthy and safe.
Jonathan Cole-Bagby • Texas: “My emergency response grant support money helped not only me, but it also helped feed local families in need. It came just as we needed a way to help people in my community that were actually going hungry. If not for the Campaign for Southern Equality, I personally know of 12 people that would have gone to bed hungry.”
Deneishia Williams • Tennessee: “I was able to get food and other items that I needed. The pandemic hit pretty hard and I had lost my job due to Covid so the grant came in handy. I was very grateful to receive it in my time of need.”
Jason Jackson • Georgia: “I’ve become homeless due to not being able to work and the prejudice of my family. At the beginning when I didn’t know much about being homeless or how to survive, food was difficult to get. The Emergency Grant was what fed me after days of hunger and worrying about how I was going to survive. I was able to feed myself for a couple of weeks with the money, which was just long enough to learn more long term ways of staying fed while this, both personal and worldwide, crisis is going on.”
Read more stories and learn more about the impact of the Southern Equality Fund’s COVID-19 Rapid Response Grant Program by visiting our Impact page.