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Group Launches Texas’ First Statewide LGBTQ Needs Assessment

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Houston-based Texas Pride Impact Funds seeks survey participants.

By Megan Wadding

“Game-changing.”

That’s how Ron Guillard of Houston describes the work of Texas Pride Impact Funds (TPIF), a two-year-old nonprofit that envisions itself as “a custodian for LGBTQ philanthropy” in the state.

Ron Guillard

With the help of sociologists at the University of Texas at Dallas, TPIF is currently conducting the first-ever statewide needs assessment on LGBTQ issues in Texas.

“As one of the top five most-populous states, the funding of LGBTQ agencies and programs from foundations and corporations significantly lags here in Texas,” says Guillard, who serves on TPIF’s three-person board of directors.

“Similar funding in Florida is 1.5 times that of Texas, Illinois is 2.5 times, California is 3.1 times, and New York is 4.4 times that of Texas,” he adds. “Hence, our mission is ‘Securing the future for LGBTQ Texans by inspiring giving and investment to expand opportunities and enrich our communities.’”

TPIF, which grew out of an initiative within Dallas’ Black Tie Dinner fundraiser, aims to support LGBTQ organizations and projects statewide, serve the needs and goals of donors, and initiate collaboration between donors and organizations.

“Over recent decades, LGBTQ leaders have established numerous nonprofit organizations across Texas supporting the needs of our community,” TPIF’s website states. “As critical as each of these organizations is, none have taken the leadership role as a custodian for LGBTQ philanthropy.

Richard Scotch

“Adopting a model of LGBTQ-focused community foundations across the country, we exist to advocate for and to strengthen local communities and their leaders, and to mobilize donors in support of these efforts,” the site states.

Since its launch in 2015, TPIF has established a steering committee, as well as regional leadership councils in the Houston, Austin, and Dallas areas.

The ongoing needs assessment was funded using a planning grant from Funders for LGBTQ Issues, a national group. Results from the needs assessment will inform priorities for TPIF’s inaugural grant program in 2018, and identify areas for future issues-based and regional assessments.

Richard Scotch, a professor of sociology and public policy at UT-Dallas, and Kara Sutton, a sociology lecturer, are collecting data through an online survey, personal interviews, and focus groups, as well as by reviewing previous research.

The survey covers more than 30 issues spanning the interests and concerns of the LGBTQ community, focusing largely on transgender issues, youth and seniors issues, issues faced by people of color, and issues affecting those who live in rural areas.

“We are hopeful that the results of the study will be used to identify critical community needs and to help direct resources to address those needs,” Scotch says. “Participants are being asked to identify how important various issues are within the Texas LGBTQ community, and whether sufficient resources are currently available to address them.”

The survey covers family issues, health issues, legal issues, discrimination, economic issues, safety issues, and other issues related to community services.

“We also ask respondents some demographic questions about themselves so we can break out responses from various groups,” Scotch says. “Specifically, we are concerned about how various community issues are being handled and should be prioritized. The results are intended to inform community efforts to fund existing and new programs.”

Scotch said researchers have contacted 166 organizations across the state and hope to involve several hundred people in the study, representing different segments of the LGBTQ community.

“These include service providers, advocacy groups, faith-based organizations, social groups, student organizations, and media organizations,” he says. “TPIF is helping to identify the key issues to be examined, and to advise us on how to encourage broad participation from community members and groups.”

The research is being conducted with the help of about a dozen UT-Dallas students. They include sociology major Colton Hattersley, an openly gay senior who says the study fits with his career goal of becoming a civil-rights lawyer.

“It’s awesome that I can apply some of the stuff I’ve been learning and do something impactful,” Hattersley says. “This project is special to me both from an academic and a personal perspective. This is a chance for me to do something that can affect positive change.”

Scotch anticipates the study will be completed by the end of the summer. Before a final report is distributed, initial results will be shared at a series of town halls across the state, according to TPIF.

To complete the survey, go here.

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