The Southwest Florida community has a new resource for helping improve services and opportunities for the LGBTQ community. The LGBT Community Fund of Southwest Florida, a fund of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, was established last year.

The first LGBT Community Fund grant was awarded to Laboratory Theater’s “Staging Teen Success Through Theater” program, which takes place in the fall. This mentorship-based theater program aims to connect youth, ages 13 to 18, who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender with successful LGBTQ adults within the theater community and licensed counselors.

These mentors will support and nurture youth while they learn to better understand themselves and theater through research and development of plays, playwriting and scene study.

Now in its second year, the LGBT Community Fund takes a unique approach to awarding the funds. Anyone who donates $250 or more by May 1 gets a vote on the fund’s focus area. Nonprofits then apply for grants to execute programs in the focus area.

This “donor fund” is a group of donors working together to pool their resources so that together their philanthropy can do more.

Two donors to date have become “Visionaries” of the fund by donating a minimum of $10,000 to start an endowed portion of the LGBT Community Fund. Now every year, the spending rate on the endowed fund (a percentage of the fund’s balance) will become part of the total grant allocation, which will be awarded each October.

To donate or for more information, call the Southwest Florida Community Foundation at 239-274- 5900 or visit the website at floridacommunity.com. A link to donate and more information about the fund is also available on the Rainbow Pages website at rainbowpagesswfl.com/lgbt-fund.

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