The John S. Kellett Foundation has announced the award of 22 grants totaling $2.1 million—the final round of grants for the foundation as it closes operations. Dr. Brian Riedel, board president, says that the board was “delighted” with the grant applications submitted. “We asked the community what it needs, and it told us what is important,” Riedel says.
The foundation received 35 applications and accepted 22 of them. “The others did not really reflect the foundation’s mission,” Riedel says. The foundation supports “education about, gaining equal rights for, and elimination of discrimination against the LGBTQ community.” The foundation puts a special focus on organizations that are often passed over by traditional funding sources.
The window for grant applications was open from November 1, 2018, through February 28, 2019. The applications received were assigned to the foundation’s six board members for review. Once the final decisions were made, the board determined the amount of each grant. Everything was complete by the end of April, and the winners were informed in May. “Every winner was jubilant, expressing deep gratitude,” Riedel added.
Among the grant winners is the Montrose Center’s new Law Harrington Senior Housing Project. Kennedy Loftin, chief development officer for the Montrose Center, says that the grant represents the second-largest community gift to the housing project. Increasing construction costs had sidelined the project, which was originally scheduled to break ground last year. The Kellett grant has put it back on track, and groundbreaking is set for August 6.
The foundation was established in 1992 by John Steven Kellett, a retired Exxon executive. Kellett died in January 2018 at the age of 90. After his death, the board determined there were not enough funds to operate the foundation in perpetuity. They chose to give one final round of grants that would help organizations achieve a significant transformation that they would otherwise not be capable of undertaking.
Riedel says that the grants are game-changers for the long run. “What kind of story will the Houston LGBTQ community be able to tell [when we celebrate] Stonewall 100, as a result of these grants?”
The final Kellett Foundation grants were awarded to a variety of organizations that deal with such issues as LGBTQ youth, gender equality, addiction, historic preservation, and the arts:
Association for Family & Community Integrity (AFCI)
A professional web designer will create a new website and educational resources for the group. AFCI will begin to appear at the top of web searches seeking information about coming out. AFCI works to educate families during the coming-out process, with the goal of reducing the number of LGBTQ youth who are rejected by their families and often become homeless.
Bering Memorial Open Gate Homeless Youth
The program serves 18- to 30-year-old homeless young adults (with an emphasis on LGBTQ clients), providing Sunday home-cooked family-style meals, hygiene packs, clothing, and haircuts. Efforts are made to help them get jobs and into housing. This grant will allow Bering to expand their current services.
Dalton DeHart Photographic Foundation
Dalton DeHart, our community’s photographer, started using digital equipment in 2004. The grant will pay for scanning 350,000 pre-digital negatives dating from 1989 through 2004, and housing the images online where they can be easily searched.
The Louisiana component of Nick Vaughan and Jake Margolin’s 50 States project will be sponsored by DiverseWorks through their grant, in addition to other LGBTQ performance-art projects such as a gender non-binary pageant event.
The organization’s African-American LGBTQ archive project (the Charles Law Community Archive at the African American Library at the Gregory School) will receive funds for operating costs and resources. The archive was launched in early 2019.
Founded 10 years ago, this organization provides a safe space for transgender youth and their families. Each year it organizes an annual conference. Their grant will allow the group to finally hire a part-time executive director.
Houston Transgender Unity Committee
The number of prominent guest speakers at the annual Transgender Unity Banquet will be increased in order to boost attendance and scholarship income.
JD Doyle Archives
Operating expenses will be covered for JD Doyle’s nationally recognized and ever-expanding array of LGBTQ history websites.
Lambda Center Houston
Urgently needed repairs will be made to the center’s sinking foundation and leaking roof. The center serves the Houston-area LGBTQ community with support groups for those challenged by various forms of addiction.
This national legal advocacy group received a grant to continue their work of protecting LGBTQ Americans through court suits, especially in cases involving recent legislation that allows discrimination based on so-called ‘religious freedom.’ In Texas, the organization is fighting for a lesbian couple’s right to be foster parents through the Marouf v. Azar case.
Lesbians Over Age Fifty
A professional website designer will be hired to build a web presence for the organization that will increase its outreach to Harris County lesbians. The membership application, organization newsletter, and events calendar will be available online.
Old Lesbian Oral History Project
Some of the costs of transcribing interviews done in the Houston area will be paid for by this grant, making it possible to complete other time-consuming archiving tasks. The project will then be able to focus on identifying and interviewing additional lesbian women (over age 70), documenting and preserving their life stories.
Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) Houston
This grant will help the organization with their operating expenses. The Houston chapter is actively working to help families of transgender and gender non-binary individuals. Their operating costs have increased after opening four satellite meeting locations in Katy, Clear Lake, Pearland, and northwest Houston.
Houston’s annual LGBTQ film festival will be able to build up its administrative foundation with their grant. Priorities include web design, development, volunteer coordination, box office management, and hiring a publicist (who is already lining up interviews with filmmakers).
The Houston Intersex Society
This organization exists to serve the largely invisible and stigmatized community of individuals born with a sexual anatomy that doesn’t fit the typical gender definition of female or male. Their grant will help cover the costs of organizing Intersex Awareness Day, a Pride parade contingent, and travel expenses for speakers.
The Learning Curve
This grant will help fund the completion of a documentary about the gender-correction transition of Texas attorney DJ Healey, who underwent the process in her fifties. “Trans visibility is the key to trans acceptance,” Healey says.
The Montrose Center’s Law Harrington Senior Housing Project
This elder-living facility will allow Houston’s low-income LGBTQ residents to fully embrace their biographies. The grant moves the project back on track, with groundbreaking set for August 6 at 2222 Cleburne Street.
The Montrose Center Non-Profit Incubator
One of the most important things that the Montrose Center does is to help new and/or struggling organizations grow by offering them space to hold regular meetings. The grant will allow the center to build a non-profit incubator, which will be named after John Kellett. The award will, in effect, incubate the new incubator.
This group stages little-known and underperformed theater works. Their grant will fund the launch of a new series that will produce one LGBTQ work each year. The series will be named after John Kellett.
Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT)
The network provides outreach and education on trans issues to Texas medical students and professionals, attorneys, school districts, and anyone else interested in gaining a more educated and compassionate approach to the trans community. This grant will help them expand current activities.
Texas Transgender Non-Discrimination Summit
This group works with educational institutions across Texas to implement policy changes regarding their trans personnel and student bodies. Operating “on a shoestring” for the past 11 years, their grant will allow them to undertake “real planning.”
This “audience interactive” film by educator Brian Ellison explores the origins of misconceptions about black masculinity. The grant will allow Ellison to publicize and facilitate screenings of the film, helping viewers to re-conceptualize African-American masculinity so that it is more inclusive of the full range of human emotion.
Further information about the Kellett Foundation and this final round of grants is available at www.kellettfoundation.org
This article appears in the August 2019 edition of OutSmart magazine.