WASHINGTON – The David Bohnett Foundation has awarded the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) $75,000 to fund a two-year pilot program outreaching to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The program will have four components focusing on: training young activists; organizing public forums on issues in the black gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community; helping to build alliances between student groups and community groups; and educating on the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
“The generosity of the David Bohnett Foundation will help us engage in a dialogue at HBCUs about GLBT issues,” said Seth Kilbourn, HRC's national field director. “We look forward to working on these campuses to create welcoming and affirming places for GLBT people of color.”
“We are proud to support the outreach work of the Human Rights Campaign,” said Michael Fleming, executive director of the David Bohnett Foundation. “Working to make HBCU campuses safe and inviting for GLBT students advances the foundation's larger goal of fostering affirming environments for all GLBT people.”
As part of the program, young activists from HBCU campuses will participate in a training weekend in Washington, D.C., with experts in grassroots organizing and leadership skills. The training they receive will prepare them to start GLBT student groups on their own campuses.
“Many GLBT student groups are just getting started at the few HBCUs where they exist,” said HRC constituency organizer Donna Payne, who will manage the program. “We will empower students and give them the tools they need to find their voices and become a recognized and respected part of campus life.”The first HBCU GLBT student group was started at Howard University in 1979. In 1995, Spellman College became the second HBCU to do the same, followed by Johnson C. Smith University in 2002. There are more than 100 HBCUs in the United States, enrolling hundreds of thousands of students.
This pilot program will complement HRC's continuing work with the African-American community. HRC participates in black pride events nationwide and sponsors the annual Gospel and Soul program in Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. In January, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation's National Coming Out Project also released a new online resource, “African-Americans and Coming Out,” which can be viewed at www.hrc.org/ncop/diversity/aa/index.asp.