2 min

Community One’s rainbow grants have helped power queer programs and services in the GTA since 1980

The deadline for 2017 grants is approaching

Newcomer Women’s Services Toronto was one recipient at the 2016 Rainbow Grants ceremony. Credit: Courtesy Kyle Burton

Since 1980, the Community One Foundation has been funding vital services and programs in LGBT communities across the Greater Toronto Area, including the Durham, Halton, Peel and York regions. Previously known as the Lesbian and Gay Community Appeal Foundation until 2008, Community One has been instrumental in shaping the economic and cultural landscapes of the populations it serves by providing grants to underfunded groups and individuals.

The foundation’s rainbow grants provide funding and support in the areas of health and social services, research, education and advocacy, as well as and arts and culture. They are are tailored to meet the needs of underrepresented populations within Greater Toronto’s LGBT communities and are also accessible to groups and individuals without official charitable status. Community One now hopes to cast a wider net and attract a greater number of applicants for its grants before the April 7, 2017, deadline.

Newcomer Women’s Services Toronto (NEW) is a settlement agency that provides support and resources to immigrant women and their families and was a rainbow grant recipient in 2016. The funds allowed the non-profit to hire 20 youth to research and design a queer-positive curriculum for its free English language program.

NEW’s executive director Maya Roy says the rainbow grant allowed the organization to facilitate a positive space for queer youth and made the organization attractive to other donors.

“The idea was that we would hire self-identified queer, newcomer youth to develop a curriculum for our [English as a Second Language] school that we have. It allowed us to fundraise matching money,” Roy says. “So, when a community funder like Community One says they believe in you, then other people get interested and excited about the project, especially about having queer youth actually write ESL curricula.”

NEW was able to offer the new recruits intensive training in communications and research, providing them with important job skills.

“It was pretty amazing in the sense that I wrote the grant and got it out of the way and they just took the ball and ran with it. I came back for the graduation dinner and was listening to the young people talk about how important it was to have these kinds of spaces.” Roy says. “They also went to Glad Day and the [Canadian] Lesbian and Gay Archives to get a sense of how we are documenting our history and our community.”

Throughout its decades-long history, Community One has not only provided crucial funding to community heavyweights like the AIDS Committee of Toronto, Black Lives Matter and the Inside Out LGBT Film Festival, but has also focused on funding individuals and groups who face further marginalization within LGBT communities across the the Greater Toronto Area.

Community One board member Steven Solomon says focusing on community groups and individuals who continue to face financial obstacles is part of Community One’s mandate.

“In terms of queer, trans, ethno-specific agencies, we’re looking to support their efforts to meet the needs, again, of a variety of diverse populations within populations. From health and social services to arts and culture,” Solomon says. “So, looking at the diverse communities within communities, that’s what we do.”

Rainbow Grant applications are open until April 7, 2017. Registered charities or groups trusteed by a registered charity are eligible for foundation rainbow grants, available for up to $7,500. General rainbow grants are available for up to $1,500 and are open to groups or individuals without charitable status. The RBC community rainbow grant, created in partnership with RBC Royal Bank, is available to a registered charity for up to $10,000.