On Thursday, May 21 the Campaign for Southern Equality will reopen applications for its COVID-19 Rapid Response Grant Program, which responds to the immediate economic needs of LGBTQ people in the South. In the next month, CSE will disburse an additional $125,000 in grants to LGBTQ Southerners impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This will bring total grantmaking for the COVID-19 Rapid Response Grant Program to more than $200,000 since March.
More than $100,000 of the upcoming grants will be for Emergency Assistance Grants, which provide $100 in immediate financial support to LGBTQ Southerners in need. Applicants may use the funding for basic needs like groceries, rent/mortgage payments, prescriptions, medical bills, and prevention supplies. Funding will also support Community Response Grants, which provide funding of up to $500 for community projects dedicated to meeting the needs of LGBTQ Southerners in the face of COVID-19, and Frontline Grants to Direct Service Providers, grants larger than $500 initiated by CSE staffers. Funding allocations will reflect a commitment to equity and reaching people of color, transgender people, people with low incomes, and people in rural areas.
Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, said today:
“With these grants, we are moving money directly to individuals and families, because that is what people have told us will most effectively address their immediate needs. Right now, LGBTQ people across the South are hurting, worrying about how they’ll make it through the next month financially while also doing everything they can to remain healthy, save their jobs, and care for their loved ones. Folks who have received grants already have let us know that these $100 emergency assistance grants not only allow them to buy food and make rent, but also let them know that there’s a community that cares about them and is ready to support them.”
As COVID-19 continues to spread across the South, Southerners face disparities that put them at higher risk than people living elsewhere in the United States, including higher rates of chronic illnesses, HIV/AIDS, and poverty. These disparities are further compounded for LGBTQ Southerners, especially people of color (POC), trans and gender nonconforming (TGNC) people, and people living in non-metro areas. LGBTQ Southerners are also at an elevated risk of being economically impacted by COVID-19, as so many are hourly workers, participants in the gig economy, or participants in survival economies.
Across the first three region-wide rounds of CSE’s COVID-19 Rapid Response Grant Program, 60% of recipients were people of color and 72% were transgender or gender non-conforming. Most applicants described experiencing economic distress due to working in the gig economy or as hourly workers. Many also described living with chronic conditions and/or needing financial support for hormone replacement therapy prescriptions.
This round of grants is supported by community partners and foundations, including We Are Family, the Amy Mandel Fund, and the Families and Workers Fund, a funders collaborative that includes the Ford Foundation, Schmidt Futures, and Open Society Foundation (full partners in this collaborative listed here). Grants are also supported by individuals, hundreds of whom have donated to the Campaign for Southern Equality in recent months.
The COVID-19 Rapid Response Grant Program is a part of CSE’s Southern Equality Fund, a trust-based grassroots grantmaking program that has supported LGBTQ grassroots organizing in the South since 2016.