Stonewall Community Foundation: Working Towards a Better Future Since 1990

As Part of Playbill.com's 30 Days of Pride, Stonewall Community Foundation shares its dedication to meeting the needs of the LGBTQ community in New York.

Jarrett Lucas
Jarrett Lucas

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The needs of New York City's LGBT community are so vast and varied, it is hard for any one person to try and support them all. Yet that is exactly what Stonewall Community Foundation is trying to help people do.

As the only public foundation focused on the needs of New York City's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community, Stonewall Community Foundation (or SCF) has been raising and directing funds towards a diverse array of causes since 1990. Through philanthropic efforts like monthly giving circles and donor-advised funds, SCF awards grants and scholarships to hundreds of local organizations who each fight to bring equality to their small corner of our ever-changing community.

"New York's LGBTQ community is the largest in the country, so calling ourselves a community is easy. Functioning as one is really hard, especially when you consider that we probably have more differences than we have things in common," said Stonewall Community Foundation executive director Jarrett Lucas.

Because SCF is so knowledgeable about the needs facing the city's LGBTQ population today, it can effectively grant money from its fundraising efforts to both established causes, like homeless youth; and new grassroots campaigns, like the fight for transgender healthcare. Along the way, SCF also helps introduce the community to lifelong philanthropy, through giving circles like Stonewall Quarter Share, and trains next-generation community leaders, through programs like Out in Front.

"Gay people need to begin thinking about gay issues as community issues and become vocal in framing them as such, marriage equality included," said Lucas. "The vision Stonewall holds of a thriving LGBTQ New York is within reach, but only if philanthropy is in the hands of everyday people."

Christopher F. Davis

One of the places New York City's LGBTQ community has longed thrived is in the performing arts. So, in turn, the performing arts have played a significant role in shaping SCF. Lucas points to recents SCF grants for the BAAD! Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance and Freedom Train Productions. And June 19, SCF will honor Marita Begley, longtime artistic director and drum major of the Lesbian and Gay Big Apple Corps marching band, at their annual Vision Awards .

"We consider it our great honor and responsibility to celebrate the contributions and leadership of artists whenever we can," he explained.

Christopher F. Davis, a producer at Dancers Responding to AIDS, is one such artist. As a SCF board member, Davis has been able to serve his community in multitude of ways and urges his colleagues to do that same. "You cannot just work hard, play hard in New York City and not think about the other people that are not as fortunate," he said. Davis said change can start with the smallest donation: "No amount is too small and that is important. It's a wonderful sense of empowerment to be a part of Stonewall and to feel like you know you're helping the community and the [place] where I live."

Davis lights up when talking about his participation in a past SCF grant to the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund and a new SCF scholarship for undocumented LGBT immigrants. Lucas says that it is SCF's dedication to causes like these will bring about long and lasting equality in the Big Apple. "The best thing we can do is claim our stake — as openly gay people — in the struggles that touch every aspect of who we are and how we live as complex beings," he explained. "Stonewall brings attention to and funds the projects and organizations that embody this concept. And every single day we give people the chance to join us in that work by becoming Stonewall donors."

Visit StonewallFoundation.org for more info.