The HOPE Fund: Helping Others through Partnership and Education

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To strengthen organizations and projects that support LGBT 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 desperately lacked essential human and social services, from youth to seniors. 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 of the CFSEM to focus on strengthening organizations and projects which 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 nearly two decades since its inception, generous contributors have invested over $3 million to support The HOPE Fund endowment, its grantmaking program, and related efforts such as the Racial Equality Initiative (REI). To-date, over 125 grants have been distributed, resulting in a more responsive, creative array of services, programs, and organizations for southeast Michigan’s LGBT community.

Please visit our other tabs to find out more about the impact of The HOPE Fund, and what you can do to support its efforts.

The HOPE Fund Committee is composed of 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.

Questions or comments for the committee should be submitted to Robin Ferriby, or by calling 313.961.6675.


  • Allan D. Gilmour
  • Patrick R. Jakeway


  • Gerald G. Banister
  • Mark D. Blanke
  • Karen C. Brown  
  • Stacey E. Cassis
  • Derek E. Daniels 
  • Gilbert M. Frimet
  • Henry M. Grix
  • Howard W. Israel
  • Nancy S. Katz
  • Glenn F. Kossick
  • Michael J. Mirto
  • Michael C. Mok
  • Father Anthony P. Sulkowski Jr.
  • Pam Theisen
  • Suzanne K. Wait
  • Thomas P. Wilczak



Make your online gift today!

The HOPE Fund is the first partnership in Michigan between the LGBT community and a significant, mainstream philanthropic foundation. This unique structure within the Community Foundation benefits the LGBT community in many ways:

  • Building the capacity of key, local organizations that serve the LGBT community.
  • Encouraging mainstream organizations to better serve the needs of their LGBT constituents
  • Educating the larger community about the needs of the LGBT community, and
  • Supporting efforts to build leaders within the LGBT community.


  • More than $1.7 million in grants have been made to 128 projects at 45 nonprofit agencies.
  • Organizations in all seven counties in the region support the LGBT community through The HOPE Fund.
  • The HOPE Fund is a key information provider nationally, particularly on issues of estate planning for LGBT families. 
  • The HOPE Fund has provided much-needed trainings and materials to help increase the capacity of organizations serving the LGBT community.
  • Agencies serving the LGBT community have utilized HOPE Fund grants as leverage for applying to additional private and public funders.

For a full list of grantees since The HOPE Fund’s inception, click this link: HOPE Fund Grantee List.





To learn more about how you can apply to The HOPE Fund for a grant, please explore this link: HOPE Fund Grantmaking Guidelines.  If you would like to speak with someone directly once you review this document, please contact Katie Brisson, Senior Program Officer, at 313.961.6675 or via e-mail at


Beyond ongoing grantmaking, The HOPE Fund has also undertaken some short-term special projects over the years.  Some of these projects include the following:

Racial Equity Initiative
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 the Funders for LGBTQ Issues to undertake this work.  Some results of this work can be found at the following links:

  • Video featuring interviews with the leadership of LGBT organizations in southeast Michigan, “Growing Leadership”:  

Series of articles and videos highlighting local LGBT leaders of color, produced on Between the Lines and Model D with HOPE Fund support:

Estate Planning Education
The HOPE Fund has done a great deal of work focused on educating LGBT people about the importance of estate planning and planned giving to charities benefitting the LGBT community.  In 2003, The HOPE Fund received a special grant from the Funders for LGBTQ Issues to educate the community on this topic.  Results included an estate planning guide for LGBT people, as well as a marketing campaign, which included a series of LGBT-targeted ads, and a series of educational sessions for both nonprofits and individuals.  A revised LGBT estate planning guide is currently being developed. Please subscribe to the Community Foundation's enews to receive updates about its availability and other HOPE Fund and Community Foundation news. 

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of The HOPE Fund, a dedicated group of friends are offering to match gifts from new or lapsed donors. So if you have never donated to The HOPE Fund--or it’s been more than two years since your last gift-- now’s your chance. Through the end of 2014, $10,000 will be available to match new gifts until it’s gone. Join our birthday celebration and you’ll double the impact of your charitable dollars in support of LGBT causes in southeast Michigan. Make your online gift today!

Join with others in the community by making your gift today to support the work of organizations serving the LGBT community in southeast Michigan. 

CFSEM HOPE  – Donors may direct their gifts, to these funds, which are overseen by the HOPE Committee

  • HOPE Fund Endowment – Your gift will help to strengthen the endowment which provides a permanent source of annual support to fund the most pressing needs of the community today and into the future. (Learn more about the importance of endowments)
  • HOPE Fund Grantmaking – Gifts to this fund will have an immediate impact upon our grant making efforts.
  • 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.

CFSEM AGENCY FUNDS – Agencies listed below have elected to set up an endowment fund at the Foundation so as to provide a permanent source of revenue to support their general operations.  Gifts may be directed to these funds as well.

    • Affirmations Community Center
    • AIDS Partnership Michigan Inc.
    • Equality Michigan
    • Michigan AIDS Coalition
    • Ruth Ellis Center Inc.


The Community Foundation can accept gifts of almost any kind, including:

  • Cash 
  • Marketable securities, including stocks, bonds and mutual funds 
  • Restricted stock and IPOs 
  • Real estate, mortgages and notes 
  • Closely-held businesses, including partnerships and limited liability company interests 
  • Qualified intellectual property 
  • Life insurance policies 

You can make a gift with your credit card using our secure online giving site. Once on the site, to give to one of The HOPE Funds listed above, please click the radio box titled, “Choose an area of interest” and you will see The HOPE Fund options listed at the bottom of the page. To give to an agency endowment, please click on the radio box titled, “Agency endowment funds”. 

Please make your check payable to the “Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.” You can deliver the check personally or by mail to: 

333 West Fort Street 
Suite 2010 
Detroit, MI 48226-3134 

If the check is to be credited to a particular 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 to 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.

Please review our Procedures for Making a Gift for assistance with gifts of cash and marketable securities. Or you can contact the Foundation at 313.961.6675.

Donors wishing to create a legacy and provide ongoing support for the causes they care about may elect to establish a permanent endowment fund that will provide a source of financial support to benefit charitable organizations for generations to come. Named funds can be established to directly support the HOPE Fund Endowment, the LGBT Racial Equity Endowment, or one of our current agency endowments. 

Donors may also set-up a fund to support organizations or fields-of-interest not covered here. Please visit our “Create a Fund” page to explore all of the options available to you. A minimum contribution of $10,000 is required to name a fund. For questions or to explore naming opportunities please contact Robin Ferriby at 313.961.6675 or via e-mail at

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. Your gift will help to ensure the long-term growth of needed resources to support future needs of the local LGBT community. The Community Foundation offers a variety of investment opportunities for donors interested in planned gifts, and has the expertise to help individuals and their professional advisors with even the most complex charitable estate planning questions. 

The HOPE Fund has also helped to fund the guide, Estate Planning and Planned Giving for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Individuals, Couples and their Families. If you would like to receive an updated copy when it becomes available, please contact the Foundation, 313.961.6675.



“Over the years, The HOPE Fund has had a major positive impact as a resource for southeastern Michigan's LGBT community. Its commitment to working at the intersection of race and LGBT issues makes it a leading example for foundations around the country of a philanthropic practice responsive to community needs.”

Bryan E. Glover
Communications Officer, Funders for LGBTQ Issues

“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 as well.  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, step up its legal services to the senior LGBT community. “  

Kary L. Moss
Executive Director, ACLU of Michigan

“LGBTQ youth have discovered that they have a role in creating a safer and more inclusive school community.  The Hope Fund is making it possible for Riot Youth teens to work with Gay Straight Alliances across Washtenaw County schools to learn  the skills to use evaluation, theater and dialogue as tools for changing school climate.”

John Weiss
Executive Director, Neutral Zone