New Harvest Foundation is getting close to a charitable giving milestone. Since its founding 38 years ago, the foundation will soon have distributed $500,000 to LGBTQ+ focused nonprofits in Dane County. As the only funder in Dane County that is dedicated to supporting LGBTQ+ projects, grants normally range from $300 to $3000 to support arts and culture, community development, health care, public education, social change, and social services.
Board chair Logan Dixon explained that the COVID crisis cranked up both the community needs and its generosity.
“New Harvest Foundation has been able to share grants up to $10,000 to support the most at-risk groups,” said Dixon. “We’ve funded nonprofits that serve people who are homeless, transgender and gender non-conforming people, seniors, people of color, and youth. Our primary goal continues to be a focus on at-risk populations, but as the pandemic continues, this year we’re honing in on homeless, youth, and transgender issues. We see the need that’s out there, and we’re working with local organizations that are doing important work for the LGBTQ+ community.”
In addition to giving more funding to nonprofits that serve Dane County’s most vulnerable people, the foundation is evolving to provide funding to programs around the state.
“In 2021, we expanded further because we needed the agility to provide emergency grants to groups responding to the COVID crisis,” said Dixon. “We still had our main funding guidelines, but we also made exceptions to help groups to pay for their administrative costs. We sent support to more groups outside of our traditionally funded communities to be as inclusive as possible. We’re still there to serve the communities that need us the most, but we are also trying to be sure we are flexible and meeting the needs of people. We’re still looking at this broader scope this year, and we’re still focused on the issues we traditionally work on.”
One example of a broader reach of New Harvest grants was their support for the LGBT Center of SE Wisconsin to convert their programming to all-virtual platforms. While the foundation might not normally fund costs for administrative services like Zoom subscriptions, the need for virtual programming was essential work for the Racine-based community center to provide support services for queer and trans youth and networks for queer and trans people of color.
“We also gave a grant to FORGE for their advocacy work for trans people affected by COVID,” said Dixon. “The staff there typically focus on helping survivors of violence, but COVID cost transgender people their jobs, housing, stability, access to medication. They had unique challenges to their mental and physical health and well being. FORGE was putting in the work on the ground to help people impacted by the pandemic.”
In Madison, OutReach LGBTQ+ Center’s LGBT parent support group helps parents network and navigate the complexities of adoption, surrogacy, foster care, and acceptance when they face homophobia or transphobia.
“In spite of the pandemic, families are still going through adoptions, and having kids of their own,” said Dixon. “Outreach has always been good about applying for funding. This grant to the parent support group was really important now to make sure families had the support they needed at a time when people may feel really isolated.”
From the early days of the pandemic, the arts have taken a particularly bad hit. Everyone from actors to sound and lighting engineers and set builders have had limited means to earn a living or share their art and passion. New Harvest Foundation found a way to invest in future shows through Wisconsin’s Queer Theater company Stage Q.
“Stage Q has been the recipient of grants in the past. This year we funded Stage Q to do a week-long CapitalQ Theatre Festival at The Bartell Theatre. The funds aren’t just for that show, but also for long-term production investments. The staging for this series will be reused in the future. We want to make sure to fund the arts—we always have supported the arts—but we focused on how we could help this sector that has been heavily hit by COVID.”
CapitalQ Theatre Festival is an update on the “Queer Shorts” traditon of producing one-act plays during Pride month. The festival will run June 24–26.
Logan got involved with New Harvest Foundation at the invitation of his close friend, Melissa Hunt. They had served on boards together in the past, and it didn’t take much convincing for Melissa to get Logan to sign up. After the end of board chair Holly Anderson’s term, the board elected Logan to be the next chair.
“It’s voluntary-but-satisfying work,” he said. “We would welcome more people to join the board. It’s not a ton of time commitment, but the work we do is so satisfying in how we can impact the communities we work and live in. Now that we are funding organizations outside of Dane County, we’d especially welcome board members who live outside of Dane County as well.”
By collectively raising money and redistributing it to LGBTQ+ organizations, New Harvest Foundation’s mission can make a big impact in supporting the rights, services, culture, and community development of the queer and trans community. Dixon describes donors as the lifeblood of the organization.
“A huge portion of revenue comes from monthly or recurring donations,” he said. “We have a fundraising drive once a year to ask folks who may have additional money they can give. Planned giving is also an option for donors to give back. We always appreciate the continued involvement with the donors we have.”
Volunteers who want to learn more about serving on the board can email. Details on becoming a donor are available at newharvestfoundation.org, where donors can sign up for updates on the foundation’s mailing list or Facebook page.