CHARLOTTE — The Charlotte Lesbian & Gay Fund (CLGF) was started in the spring of 2003 by a group of people who were concerned about the welfare of Charlotte’s LGBT organizations. Their goal was to explore new funding sources and look into the possibility of establishing a permanent endowment at Foundation For The Carolinas.
“We saw that we were in a wealthy community, but so many of the LGBT organizations were struggling,” says Tom Warshauer, one of the founding members. “We realized we didn’t have an endowment and we didn’t have access to United Way and the Arts and Science Council.”
What started as a grassroots organization has grown into a much larger and more visible part of the Charlotte community since it became a part of the Foundation For The Carolinas.
A Charlotte-based foundation, Foundation For The Carolinas reportedly has assets of $600 million and manages around 1,600 funds.
“It’s the place where non-profit organizations keep their money to be managed,” explains Warshauer. “It gives us access to the best money management and helps you learn how to manage endowments. There are also resources to help structure your planned giving.”
To date, the Charlotte Lesbian and Gay Fund (CLGF) has raised $72,000. An additional $18,000 has been pledged and another $25,000 will be donated to CLGF by The Funders for Lesbian and Gay Issues (FLGI), a national organization that helps groups like CLGF get started. FLGI has funded another similar organization in Greensboro, N.C.
“The community really seems to be embracing establishing an endowment for an LGBT group,” says Warshauer. “ I’ve been really astounded in conversations I’ve had when people have immediately turned around and become donors. I think people recognize Foundation For The Carolinas as a great organization and that it’s good for the LGBT community to establish a relationship with them. It allows the community to keep us in mind and it gives us visibility. When we’re at the table it makes us stronger partners.”
The current CLGF board members include Warshauer (City of Charlotte), Carrie Gault (Laughing Dog StudioArchitecture), Curtis Tutt (Bank of America), Kirsten Sikkellee (YWCA), Chris McCloud (Foundation For The Carolinas), Kevin Levine (Levine-Sinkow Properties), Robert Dogens (Wachovia) and Pete Bonneau (Food Lion).
At a reception for The Charlotte Lesbian and Gay Fund on May 2 at Foundation For The Carolinas, CLGF announced the recipients of this year’s grants.
One Voice, a musical chorus established in 1989 that works to increase understanding and acceptance of gays and lesbians by reaching out to diverse groups to overcome misperceptions and enhance understanding, is the recipient of a $6,000 grant.
Time Out Youth (TOY) offers support, advocacy and education to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender and questioning youth ages 13 through 23 in the Carolinas. CLGF has awarded TOY a grant of of $16,000.
The Lesbian and Gay Community Center of Charlotte provides space and opportunity to nurture, celebrate and empower the city’s diverse LGBT community through programs, events and collaboration. The Center is the recipient of a grant of $18,000.
In addition to the grants awarded May 2, another grant cycle will be available near the end of the summer.
“The latest grants are for operating expenses,” explains Warshauer. “the next round of grants will be for bridge-building opportunities.”
According to Warshauer, the decision makers in all future grants will be CLGF stakeolders, who are individuals who contribute $1,000 a year or more to the fund.