Funders for Lesbian and Gay Issues

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Two of the Largest LGBTQ Gifts of the Year Go To …

This past year, two of the largest gifts were made to LGBTQ public foundations – a bequest of $2 million to the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice and a $3 million dollar grant to the San Diego Human Dignity Foundation. We asked both foundations, how did these gifts come about and what will each foundation do with these funds?

Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice

The Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, which is dedicated to advancing LGBTQI human rights around the globe, is set to receive a $2 million from lesbian activist Jeanne Córdova. Jeanne is a well-known author and has been involved with a number of organizations over her decades of activism. She also created the Community Yellow Pages in the 1980s, which linked hen­hidden LGBT consumers with businesses and establishments of their own identities, and brought out many donors to lesbian and gay civil rights issues. Sadly, Jeanne living with stage IV metastasized cancer.

For Jeanne, this gift fulfills a personal vow to donate half of what she made in her lifetime to the LGBTQ movement in order to strengthen it.

The Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice has several plans for these new funds – which will be donated upon Jeanne’s death. The foundation explains:

    “With this very generous gift from Jeanne R. Córdova, Astraea will offer financial support to organizations in the U.S. and internationally who are building movements, advancing human rights, and engaging in cultural activism. Grants made with these funds will specifically support Latina lesbian activists from South/Latin America; South African activists; and lesbian, feminist, butch and masculine gender nonconforming communities.

    The grant will allow Astraea to deepen our long­term funding commitment for arts and cultural activism, an area that is deeply underfunded but critical to improving conditions for LGBTQI folks. We will be able to do this on a sustained basis, without having to rely exclusively on direct fundraising efforts each year. ”


San Diego Human Dignity Foundation

The San Diego Human Dignity Foundation, which supports LGBT people in the San Diego region, received an initial gift of $3 million from the La Pietra Foundation to establish the La Pietra Foundation Permanent Fund. The new fund will be dedicated to advocacy and support for LGBTQ Foster children as well as general LGBTQ community needs.

Eugene La Pietra and his husband Alejandro are well known philanthropists in Southern California. As the foundation explains:

    “Eugene La Pietra was a founding donor of AIDS Healthcare Foundation, AIDS Project LA, The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Center, The Lambda Archives, Gay and Lesbian Latinos Unidos and many more. He has been recognized nationwide as one of the leading philanthropists in the LGBT community.

    John Brown and Gene La Pietra have been friends for many years. Mr. La Pietra served on the board of directors for The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center in the early 80’s when John was the Executive Director. They also worked on several other efforts including The Sunset Junction Street Fairs and The AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

    Many years ago John formed the La Pietra Foundation on behalf of Gene La Pietra and his family and has managed it as a favor for all these years. The intention had been to fund the La Pietra Foundation and do grantmaking from that. It became clear that the overhead costs for running a separate foundation would be prohibitive and since John was already working with The San Diego Foundation it made sense to make this intial gift there and set up a permanent fund in the name of The La Pietra Foundation.”

    This gift was made possibly by a large land sale involving long-running LGBT-friendly nightclubs in Los Angeles. John Brown, the Executive Director of San Diego Human Dignity Foundation, noted, ““thirty years ago when Gene and I started our community work, we could have never predicted that things would have worked out this way, but we could predict that we would still be friends and support one another. This just underlines my own personal belief that people don’t just give because of a particular belief or purpose, they also give because of relationships.”


Let’s hope that 2016 brings more gifts of this size and that in the new year we can continue to strengthen relationships with individual philanthropists and institutional grantmakers to increase funding for LGBTQ communities. Together, we can increase foundation funding for LGBTQ issues to $200 million by 2017!

Category(s): Philanthropic Sector