The HOPE Fund (Helping Others through Partnerships and Education) was created to strengthen organizations and projects that support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals and families, through targeted grantmaking, projects and technical assistance.




In 1994, concerned civic leaders collaborated with the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan to confront a challenge. The LGBT community — from youth to seniors — desperately lacked essential human and social services. Few mainstream agencies offered LGBT-friendly programs, while LGBT-led organizations were underfunded and understaffed.

In response, The HOPE Fund was created as a grantmaking and technical assistance program to focus on strengthening organizations and projects that serve the LGBT community. In 1995, a pivotal $43,000 challenge grant was received from the national Funders for LGBTQ Issues that helped to launch the initiative.

In the two decades since its inception, generous contributors have invested more than $3 million to support The HOPE Fund endowment, its grantmaking program, and related efforts such as the Racial Equality Initiative.

To date, more than 134 grants have been distributed, resulting in a more responsive, creative array of services, programs and organizations for southeast Michigan’s LGBT community.

The HOPE Fund is the first partnership in Michigan between the LGBT community and a significant, mainstream philanthropic foundation. It is a key information-provider nationally, particularly on issues of estate planning for LGBT families. Agencies serving the LGBT community have used HOPE Fund grants as leverage for applying to additional private and public funders.

This unique structure within the Community Foundation benefits the LGBT community by providing:

  • Support for capacity-building for LGBT agencies which leads to increased efficiency internally
  • Support for efforts involving two or more agencies that serve the LGBT community to collaborate in meaningful ways, leading to more efficiency and impact in the community
  • Support for efforts that eliminate duplication of services by the nonprofit community
  • Support for efforts that increase the effectiveness, voice and visibility of the LGBT community in the state of Michigan


"The HOPE Fund serves the LGBT community in two important ways; first by providing financial and technical assistance to various agencies that support the LGBT community, and secondly by building an endowment to ensure support to the LGBT community for perpetuity."

Patrick R. JakewayCo-chair, HOPE Fund Advisory Committee

The HOPE Fund Committee is a dedicated group of community leaders and advocates. They are responsible for fund development efforts, and serve as advisors for the grant applications that are submitted.


Allan D. Gilmour
Patrick R. Jakeway


Gerald G. Banister
Sabin D. Blake
Mark D. Blanke
Karen C. Brown
Stacey E. Cassis
Derek E. Daniels
Julian Diaz
Brenda S. Donaldson
Gilbert M. Frimet
Henry M. Grix
Howard W. Israel
Nancy S. Katz
Glenn F. Kossick
Michael J. Mirto
Michael C. Mok
Beth Niblock
Shane Pliska
Faye Schuett
Linda Stechison
Jan Stevenson
Father Anthony P. Sulkowski Jr.
Suzanne K. Wait
Thomas P. Wilczak



To date, more than $2.4 million in grants have been made to over 140 projects at 50 nonprofit agencies. Organizations in all seven counties in the region support the LGBT community through The HOPE Fund.

Recent examples of grants from The HOPE Fund include:

LGBT Detroit received $4,515 to support the 2015 Hotter Than July Annual Gathering for LGBT Issues. Hotter Than July (HTJ) is a themed, multi-day pride celebration organized by community volunteers, with the goal of enriching the quality of life for all black lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, especially youth and family. HTJ increases visibility and encourages health and wellness, empowerment and identity, and is the second oldest of its type of celebration in the United States. The Annual Gathering for LGBT Issues is a conference held every year and is a key component of the HTJ week of activities. It aims to bring together members of the community to discuss timely and relevant issues in the LGBT community. These funds were granted from The HOPE Fund’s Racial Equity Initiative.

Nonprofit Enterprise at Work (NEW) received $25,000 in 2015 for capacity-building, expansion and creating efficiencies in services of Inclusive Justice and the Michigan Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Network (MUUSJN). Inclusive Justice is a statewide, faith-based coalition, encompassing all traditions that affirm the inherent dignity and worth of every human being as a matter of spiritual conviction. Inclusive Justice seeks to create a strong statewide interfaith coalition to address LGBT inclusion issues, with the guiding principle that people of faith — LGBT individuals and allies alike — can most effectively advocate together for issues of equality and inclusion. MUUSJN is a statewide network of 1,600 people from 27 Unitarian Universalist congregations and their allies who work together for justice by aligning progressive moral voices with relevant and timely public policy issues. With the help of NEW, these two organizations will maximize their resources to organize faith-based communities around LGBT inclusivity.

The American Civil Liberties Union Fund of Michigan received $50,000 in 2013, $25,000 in 2012 and $10,000 in 2011 for education and advocacy on behalf of LGBT seniors in southeast Michigan. The grant has resulted in a strong collaborative between the ACLU, the Area Agencies on Aging, Affirmations Community Center and others working on unique issues affecting the growing community of LGBT seniors.

AIDS Partnership Michigan received $20,000 in 2012 to facilitate a strategic partnership with the HIV/AIDS Resource Center of Washtenaw County. The effort should result in both administrative cost-savings for each organization and stronger service to those in need across multiple counties in the region. The Community Foundation was so impressed by the collaborative that a follow-up grant of $20,000 was made in 2013 to assist with the rebranding of the newly merged entity.

The Neutral Zone, a teen center in Ann Arbor, received $10,000 in 2012 to improve school climates for LGBT youth, in partnership with area school-based gay-straight alliances. Youth leaders created a theater performance for area schools that focuses on the realities of bullying of LGBT youth. It is accompanied by a curriculum guide for teachers and other school leaders.

For a full list of grantees since the inception of The HOPE Fund, please click here.

Special Projects

"The HOPE Fund is an indispensable resource. By making support for LGBT equality and delivery of services to the community a priority, the fund’s philanthropic leadership paves the way for others to support this critical work. Because of their support over the years, the ACLU of Michigan has been able to act as the ‘legal arm’ of the LGBT community and, among other things, has stepped up its legal services to the senior LGBT community."

Kary L. MossExecutive Director, ACLU of Michigan

Beyond ongoing grantmaking, The HOPE Fund has undertaken some short-term special projects over the years.

Through the Racial Equity Initiative, The HOPE Fund aimed to identify and work with leadership of local LGBT People of Color organizations to increase their capacity to meet the needs of their constituents. From 2007-2013, The HOPE Fund was supported by the Arcus Foundation, the Ford Foundation and Funders for LGBTQ Issues to undertake this work.

In 2003, The HOPE Fund received a special grant from  Funders for LGBTQ Issues to develop an estate planning education program focused on educating LGBT people about the importance of estate-planning and planned giving to charities benefiting the LGBT community.

Results included the development of an estate-planning guide for LGBT people, a marketing campaign that included a series of LGBT-targeted ads, and a series of educational sessions for both nonprofits and individuals.



The HOPE Fund has two grant cycles each year.

  • If the proposal is submitted prior to February 15, a response will be received in June.
  • If the proposal is submitted prior to August 15, a response will be received in December.

Steps in applying to The HOPE Fund are as follows:

Step 1: Review the Grantmaking Guidelines

Start by reading The HOPE Fund grantmaking guidelines.

Review the Grantmaking Guidelines

In terms of what to include in your application, read the Grant Application Checklist at the link below.

Review the Application Checklist

After reviewing the grantmaking guidelines, if you have any questions, please feel free to call 313.961.6675 and ask to speak to Surabhi Pandit.

Step 2: Start an Application

Once you’ve reviewed our application checklist and spoken with Surabhi it’s time to start your grant application.

Start an Application

Step 3: Finish Your Application

You can return to your application at any time via the link below.

Return to Your Draft Application


Join with others in the community and make your gift today to support the work of organizations serving the LGBT community in southeast Michigan using one of the donation links below.

There are many ways to give, including to a number of specific funds that are overseen by the HOPE Committee:

  • HOPE Fund Endowment – Your gift will help strengthen the endowment that provides a permanent source of annual support to fund the most pressing needs of the community today and into the future.
  • LGBT Racial Equity Endowment – Gifts to this fund will provide a lasting source of support to organizations and groups that work on the issues facing people of color in the LGBT community.

The following organizations have elected to set up an endowment fund at the Community Foundation to provide a permanent source of revenue to support their general operations. Gifts may be directed to these funds, as well:

Don’t want to give online? Give by check, cash, securities or wire transfer.

Please make your check payable to the “Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan” and mail it to:

Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan
333 W. Fort St., Suite 2010
Detroit, MI 48226

If the check is to be credited to a particular named fund at the Community Foundation, please write the name of the fund on the memo line of the check or, as an alternative, attach the check to a letter indicating into which fund it should be deposited.

Checks for memorial gifts should indicate the name of the person being remembered on the memo line of the check and, if known, the name of the particular fund in which the memorial gift should be deposited.

For assistance with how to give gifts of cash, marketable securities or wire transfer, please review our Procedures for Making a Gift of Cash or Stock document.

Procedures for Making a Gift of Cash or Stock

Leave a Legacy

Become a member of The HOPE Fund Legacy Society by making a commitment to support The HOPE Fund through a bequest or a deferred-gift arrangement. You may do this by filling out and signing the Verification of Planned or Deferred Gift form, then mailing it to:

Robin Ferriby
Vice President, Philanthropic Services
Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan
333 W. Fort St., Suite 2010
Detroit, MI 48226

Your gift will help to ensure the long-term growth of resources to support future needs of the local LGBT community.

Sign Up for Updates


If you have any questions, please feel free to contact:

Surabhi Pandit

Senior Program Officer

313.961.6675, ext. 123

Contact Surabhi if you have grant-related questions.

Aimee Argel

Director, Philanthropic Services

313.961.6675, ext. 117