In November, it ranked among the top vote-getters in the Chase Community Giving contest, securing a $25,000 grant, and last month also received another $25,000 from the Pepsi Refresh Challenge.
For the Chase competition, Brandon Silverman and Peter Murray, formerly of the Center for Progressive Leadership, reached out to 10 LGBT groups, Equality PA included, to invite them to compete together for the money, which the company awards periodically to deserving nonprofits across the nation.
“Chase has been doing this for a while and it’s a great opportunity to raise money for progressive organizations,” Silverman said. “So when this latest iteration came up, we thought that it could favor groups that are willing to work together, and the first one that popped into my head was the LGBT community because this is a community that really believes in collaborating and there are great relationships among the different LGBT organizations. So we threw it out there and all 10 jumped on board.”
The partners put out e-blasts, Facebook posts and website postings, and national partners like Courage Campaign and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network also pitched in. When voting closed, all 10 groups ranked in the top 100 — with Equality PA accruing 1,448 votes — and all will receive $25,000.
Ted Martin, Equality PA executive director, said the grant will be put into the organization’s general operating fund until the agency determines if there is a specific need to which the funding should be applied.
While the 10 organizations will likely use the funding for myriad purposes, Silverman said that getting the money into the hands of local LGBT leaders is vital.
“One of the exciting things is that we’re at a point right now where we’ve seen some good progress on national LGBT issues, especially around ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ but there’s still a lot of work to be done on the local and state levels,” he said. “These 10 are the ones who are leading that work so I hope this money makes a big difference locally, for efforts like antidiscrimination laws and the very personal, concrete and achievable LGBT fights.”
The Pepsi Refresh grant will be used specifically for a new Equality PA initiative, Educate for Equality.
The funding will allow the organization to film stories from LGBT Pennsylvanians, showcasing the community and its challenges and triumphs in a realistic light.
“What we have found is that many people just don’t know that LGBT people experience discrimination. People don’t understand what this means to individuals and what their actual lives look like,” Martin said. “So I think this is an opportunity for us to go out and find real people to talk to, and use our website and social media to get the word out about who Pennsylvania’s LGBT citizens really are.”
Martin said he expects the effort to get underway early next year.
Pepsi Refresh awards about 60 projects per month, based on the number of online votes the ideas receive, in different funding tiers.
Equality PA finished 11th in the November $25,000 bracket, with the funding going to the top 15 concepts.
Jen Colletta can be reached at email@example.com.