Metro Weekly

Campaign for Southern Equality will offer $25,000 in grants to LGBTQ Southerners affected by COVID-19 pandemic

Grants are intended for first responders and those experiencing economic impact from COVID-19-related closures

campaign for southern equality, coronavirus, covid-19, grant

Volunteers with the Campaign for Southern Equality – Photo: Facebook.

The Campaign for Southern Equality, a regional LGBTQ advocacy organization working in the American South, will distribute up to $25,000 in grants to LGBTQ individuals, families, and organizations negatively affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The grants will be distributed through CSE’s Southern Equality Fund — which was created to provide monetary support and training for LGBTQ causes and organizations — to assist Southerners being impacted by COVID-19, including health care providers, first responders, and employees in industries that have been forced to close or scale back services due to social distancing.

There are approximately 5.1 million LGBTQ adults who live in the South. New research finds that LGBTQ people, particularly those with underlying health conditions, are more vulnerable to the health risks posed by COVID-19, are less likely to have health insurance than heterosexual people, and are more likely to work in industries considered non-essential that have been forced to close amid the pandemic.

“In times of crisis, we know that LGBTQ people and other marginalized communities are at greater risk of experiencing increased disparities,” the Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, the executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, said in a statement. “We’re hopeful that this new infusion of funding to support individuals, families, and grassroots activists will be one way to provide immediate relief from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

CSE has previously utilized more than $250,000 in grants to nearly 300 grassroots Southern groups and organizers across 13 different states through through the Southern Equality Fund.

There are three categories of grants that will provided through the fund in response to COVID-19. The first type is emergency assistance for individuals and families, which provides grants of up to $100 to people experiencing negative health or financial impacts as a result of the pandemic, so they can pay for basic needs like groceries and prescriptions, or put money towards rent or mortgage payments. CSE will distribute a total of $10,000 — half of which was donated by the trans organization Gender Benders — through emergency assistance grants.

Related: COVID-19: Advice on symptoms, telehealth, and social distancing

The second type of grant is community response grants, in which any person or organizations can apply for grants of up to $500 each to pay for projects or initiatives delivering relief to LGBTQ Southerners amid the pandemic. Examples of the types of projects that would qualify include programs that connect LGBTQ elders with meals, initiatives to help people connect virtually, such as for telework, and programs dealing with mental health. In total, these types of grants will cover an estimated $7,500.

The last series of grants, totaling $7,500 in total, will be used to benefit first responders or organizations that provide direct services to those on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Southern Equality Fund has always been about responding to our community’s urgent needs while investing in the next generation of Southern LGBTQ organizers,” Beach-Ferrara said, “and that’s what’s at the core of this COVID-19 grant round, too: Helping people who are hurting and encouraging innovation for grassroots action that makes a difference.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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