Astraea is the only philanthropic organization working exclusively to advance LGBTQI human rights around the globe. They are a multi-gendered, multi-racial, multi-identity organization that grew from a lesbian feminist vision. For nearly 40 years, Astraea has provided critical strategic resources to LGBTQI social justice organizations around the world. They work for racial, economic, social, and gender justice, and believe we all deserve to live our lives freely, without fear, and with dignity.
Their depth, breadth, and reach is unparalleled: since their founding in 1977, Astraea has granted over $31 million across the globe––$3,827,205 in 2016 alone.
Here are twelve simple reasons why Astraea is worth your investment.
1. Astraea was founded by and for LGBTQ women of color. In 1977, a small group of women gathered around a kitchen table and said, “If there’s going to be a women’s movement that prioritizes the needs of lesbians and women of color, we’re going to have to create it ourselves.” And, as one of the first women’s funds in the world, that’s exactly what they did.
2. For Astraea, supporting communities of color isn’t a short-term ‘experiment.’ They’ve been doing it for decades. Recognizing that women of color are involved in every facet of activism from environmental justice to LGBTQ human rights, Astraea has always prioritized their vision and leadership. Astraea has been funding women of color-led organizations across the U.S. for decades and continues to do so, often in partnership with organizations such as the LGBTQ Racial Justice Fund. In 2015, 93% of Astraea’s US funding went to people of color-led organizations, including Casa Ruby in DC, Audre Lorde Project in NYC, Affinity in Chicago, and SONG in Atlanta.
3. Astraea funds creatively. Inspired by the legacies of groups like INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence and other early collectives of Black women who continue to find ways to address violence without depending upon a racist criminal justice system, Astraea has become a leader in funding LGBTQ anti-criminalization organizing.
4. Do it for the herstory. Astraea has supported many Black and Brown creatives before they were icons, including Audre Lorde, Cheryl Dunye, and Lisa C. Moore.
5. Astraea knows art. In 1980, Astraea made its first arts grant to the Azalea Collective, a literary collective of self-identified third-world lesbians. Today, through the funding of innovative arts projects such as Sasha Wortzel and Reina Gossett’s drama Happy Birthday, Marsha!, Astraea is continuing its legacy of supporting cultural tour de forces.
6. They were the first. In 1996, Astraea became the first philanthropic organization to begin funding LGBTQI groups internationally. To-date, they’ve supported activists in 90 countries––a majority of which are lesbian, bi, queer and trans women.
7. Astraea lets grassroots activists call the shots. Over 80% of Astraea’s funding is flexible, general support. They strive to support (never stifle!) the visions of the LGBTQI activists they resource.
8. They bring the most marginalized to the center. In 1993, Astraea became the first foundation to make a grant to a trans group. Two decades later, Astraea pushed forward again by creating the world’s first Intersex Human Rights Fund and report on intersex activism, We Are Real.
9. Astraea understands that traditions of Black resistance continue to thrive. Since its inception, Astraea has been funding Black-led organizing and art. By supporting groups like Freedom Inc, Transgender, Gender Variant, Intersex Justice Project, and BreakOUT!, Astraea aims to tip the scales in favor of Black humanity and political power. These organizations are pushing to overturn the “stop-and-frisk” policies and prison industrial complex that impact Black folks and communities of color the most.
10. Astraea values community. This spring, Astraea held its Fueling the Frontlines Awards in Washington, DC, honoring the LGBTQ Women of the Obama Administration and Ruby Corado––with performances by Meshell Ndgeocello and Toshi Reagon! You won’t want to miss their community events.
11. Astraea will do your dollars justice. In 2015, Astraea made $3.6 million in grants to the activists it vows to support.
12. They’re always breaking new ground. Through their CommsLabs trainings across the world, Astraea is linking technologists with activists. The week-long trainings allow grassroots organizers the opportunity to master the communications, media and technology skills needed to take their work to the next level.