How have you seen the COVID pandemic impact the LGBTQ+ community in the Northwest?
The Seattle area was ground zero for COVID-19 in the United States. It immediately impacted the LGBTQ+ community. From important community support organizations shutting down to new challenges for many immunocompromised, we had a lot of community members who didn't have resources. Very early on, Pride Foundation needed to meet these needs.
How did Pride Foundation lend its support during this time?
There was a lot of uncertainty. As things were shutting down, these organizations were bracing themselves. Funding sources were diminishing, and needs only increasing.
Pride Foundation quickly mobilized and put together the Crisis Community Care Fund
– a way to support the organizations who meet the critical needs of LGBTQ+ people and our community.
The first round of giving in April of 2020 was a little less than $100,000 and was around $5,000 to each organization. As soon as we started getting more funding, we were more proactive. Organizations were stretched thin. They were afraid that they were not going to be able to pay staff or utilities bills and just didn’t have time to fill out applications. So, every 4-6 weeks, we were able to provide proactive grant awards to help with the support they needed. By the end of 2020, we were able to award 105 grants totaling nearly one million dollars.
In what ways did grantees use this money?
Jeremiah: For some, the grant money helped them deliver food and helped ensure those who were immunocompromised had the disinfectant and cleaning supplies they needed to stay safe. Many grants afforded organizations the ability to develop programming specific to the LGBTQ+ community. One grantee, UTOPIA Washington, created handwashing and sanitation stations for sex workers to be safe. Another, the Montana Two Spirit Society in partnership with The Center, not only started doing substance abuse webinars for their community members, but also made masks and traditional care packages for LGBTQ+ community members and Two Spirit elders across the state. It was beautiful to watch how our different grantees were filling gaps and needs.
Kim: One of the first requests that I got was from an organization in southern Oregon. Everyone was working from home and they just needed a small grant to be able to get internet access and technology for their clients. For some of our partners, especially in rural areas, their organizing work was done at kitchen tables or within small communities. It was great to help them transition from that to a virtual world.