Arcus Foundation awards GVSU $150,000 grant

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The Arcus Foundation of Kalamazoo has awarded a $150,000 grant to Grand Valley’s LGBT Resource Center to enhance its social justice training efforts, build statewide resources and increase community collaborations and partnerships.

The 20-month grant will start in January and continue through August 2011. Colette Seguin Beighley, LGBT Resource Center assistant director, said the purpose of the grant is two-fold. "We wanted to enhance our efforts to build student leaders who are civically engaged and include the greater Grand Rapids community in that effort," Seguin Beighley said.

The center will use part of the grant to fund a six-session Social Justice Training Series that would bring in nationally known speakers to train participants in effective advocacy. Other plans for grant monies are detailed below:

• Create statewide consortiums for both LGBT college centers and LGBT faculty and staff associations to share resources and create a unified voice for policy changes. The consortium for state LGBT centers would be co-hosted by GVSU's LGBT Resource Center and the University of Michigan's Spectrum Center.
• Partner with Wealthy Theatre in Grand Rapids to sponsor LGBT Monthly Film Series; collaborate with WGVU for programming during LGBT History Month (October); and collaborate with Grand Valley’s theater department to produce “Coming Out Monologues.”
• Hire a graduate assistant to support programming efforts.
• Send staff members and student leaders to national higher education conferences for networking, presentations and advocacy.

Johnny Jenkins, program officer at Arcus Foundation, said the grant comes from the foundation's Michigan LGBT Rights Program. "Our ultimate goal is to advance rights for the LGBT community in Michigan," Jenkins said. "GVSU and the LGBT Resource Center have stepped up to the plate and have served as a tremendous resource in West Michigan."

Seguin Beighley said the Arcus Foundation grant greatly helps support Grand Valley’s diversity efforts. "We’re so appreciative of the faith Arcus Foundation has in our center and our university," she said.