Serving With Pride: Area Foundation Supports Nonprofits Uplifting LGBTQ+ Community
By Eileen Pace
SAN ANTONIO — The local LGBTQ+ community was not immune to the socioeconomic devastation caused by the wrath of the coronavirus pandemic. Many lost their jobs. There were other challenges like finding housing, counseling, educational resources, or even reliable AIDS testing.
“It became readily evident that local nonprofits needed a helping hand and the San Antonio Area Foundation was proud in supporting the increased community needs,” said Cadence Corbin, Program Officer with Area Foundation’s Community Engagement and Impact team.
The San Antonio Area Foundation funded many local nonprofit organizations whose work on the ground was crucial in helping affected community members get their lives back. Here are three local nonprofit organizations highlighted within this story, including a glimpse of the impact they are making within our community: 1.) Thrive Youth Center, 2.) San Antonio AIDS Foundation, and 3.) The Pride Center San Antonio.
Thrive Youth Center received requests from young people experiencing homelessness as well as unemployment.
The Area Foundation awarded Thrive a $25,000 grant from the regular annual responsive process as well as $6,717 in pandemic-related emergency funding last year and $10,000 this year, also from regular grantmaking funding. The nonprofit used the infusion to help purchase food as well as cleaning and hygiene supplies for clients.
“What we know, is that due to a multitude of reasons outside of their control, LGBTQ+ youth experience homelessness at a higher rate than the general population,” Corbin said. “Our funding supports Thrive’s continued work to provide a safe and supportive environment for those they serve.”
The Area Foundation also awarded a $13,000 grant to the San Antonio AIDS Foundation, which was used to create a home testing kit for AIDS. The nonprofit also became the only AIDS-service organization in San Antonio to offer bilingual AIDS testing throughout the pandemic.
Dr. Cherise Rohr-Allegrini, CEO of the San Antonio AIDS Foundation, said her organization could not cut back services during the pandemic.
“A lot of very young people are seeking advice and testing for the first time,” she said. Plus, she noted, increased awareness brought more women into the center.
“A lot of older women who find themselves out and about in the world again are realizing they need to take precautions,” Rohr-Allegrini said.
Along with its home-testing kits for AIDS, the organization also offered telehealth consultations to meet virtual requirements during the pandemic.
The Pride Center San Antonio, the predominant resource hub for the area’s LBGTQ+ community, normally offers walk-in services to members and their families.
During the pandemic, Pride Center had to switch to virtual options so that clients would have uninterrupted access to services like education, counseling, health consultations and other resources.
The Area Foundation awarded Pride Center separate COVID-19 Response Fund grants of $15,000 for 2020 and $6,000 for 2021 operating expenses.
Robert Salcido, the center’s Executive Director, said they stepped up activities during Pride Month. In fact, they’re still planning events.
“There was a Pride Center Family celebration Saturday [June 26] at the D. R. Semmes Family YMCA at TriPoint,” he said.
“We collaborated with a New York Youth Pride event showing the NYC Youth Pride virtually – and offered local entertainment geared to teenagers and their families,” Salcido said. “It was a way to be in community with our youth 12 to 18 and their parents.”
In conclusion, The San Antonio Area Foundation has been the city’s community giving headquarters for nearly 60 years and recognizes a need to help local nonprofits providing support for many key areas, including those serving the LGBTQ+ community. The pandemic proved that growing need, so moving forward with further grant-making could come from a more trust based philanthropic approach to giving.
“We make an effort to continually evaluate community needs and, when possible, see how we can align our funding opportunities to organizations who are serving our most disenfranchised members,” Corbin said.
Pride Month is the annual commemoration of the Stonewall Riots, which started when police raided the Stonewall Inn bar in New York City, on June 28, 1969.
The riots became a pivotal point for members of the LBGTQ+ community, who began to be open about their identity. The first pride parades began in 1970 in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Today, Pride Month celebrates diversity in most large cities in the U.S. and many cities around the world. In late June, the City of San Antonio flew the rainbow Pride flag over City Hall in recognition of Pride Month.
Over the last couple of years, smaller cities in our region have also joined the movement. The City of New Braunfels now celebrates with its own NBTX Pride event on the last Saturday of June, while San Marcos will offer the Big Gay River Float next month.