October 13, 2020


Equality Illinois distributes over $115,000 in COVID Relief Grants to LGBTQ people across Illinois

Equality Illinois, the state’s civil rights organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer people; through a grant the Illinois COVID Response Fund (ICRF) and community organizations, has awarded over $115,000 in COVID relief grants to LGBTQ Illinoisans living outside the Chicagoland area.

“Prior to this crisis, the LGBTQ community was already more vulnerable to health and economic risks. Now with the largest scale health and economic crisis we have seen in over a century, the LGBTQ community needs additional support to survive this pandemic.” BCJ The LGBTQ community already experiences poverty at higher rates than the straight/cis community. According to the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, “LGBT people collectively have a poverty rate of 21.6%, which is much higher than the rate for cisgender straight people of 15.7%. Among LGBT people, transgender people have especially high rates of poverty—29.4%.” (October 2019)

Advancing the process from talk to action, Equality Illinois working with community partners Acorn Equality Fund, Phoenix Center, African-American Lesbian Professionals Having a Say(ALPHAS), Rainbow Café, and Prairie Pride Coalition; has distributed out grants to 161 individuals in need. The demographic breakdown of grants distributed are as followed:

  • 27% went to trans and gender non-conforming grantees
  • 38% went to Black, indigenous, and people of color grantees
  • 14% went to grantees who are homeless or unstably housed

In additional to the cash relief grants, Equality Illinois launched a public education campaign and COVID resource HUB to help individuals understand the federal, state, and local resources available to help them cope with the challenges of this unprecedented global health crisis, focusing on healthcare, employment, housing, and other key areas, as identified by EI’s stakeholders. To date Equality Illinois has reached 231,000 Illinoisans with our resource page promotion and 10,000 people have accessed our resource HUB.

Quotes from Grantee Recipient:

“The grant money I received went toward food, clothing, and basic necessities like personal hygiene and household products. I was starving and had absolutely nothing before this, I am so grateful.”
-Sage B.- Prairie Pride Coalition grantee – McLean County

“It helped us with our electricity bill, phone bill, and some car repairs to keep my girlfriend and I going back and forth. Thank you all so much, it really helped us out!”
-Shane L. – Rainbow Cafe grantee – Jackson County

“Going into the Fall semester, I had no idea how I was possibly going to afford books, food, rent, tuition, and all the other expenses associated with being a university student. Thanks to the grant from Equality Illinois, I was able to start my year off with updated textbooks for all my courses, along with upgraded Wifi equipment that allows me to complete my online courses without the added stress of connectivity issues. While these items may seem small in the grand scheme of life, they truly allowed me to make a positive transition into remote learning, while also maintaining my mental health.”
-Emma C. – Acorn Equality Fund grantee – Tazewell County

“This grant has allowed me to get my car fixed so I am able to get to work and continue to run Neighborhood House’s food pantry and youth meal programming. So I am able to continue to help decrease the food insecurities in our area.”
-Trevor N. – Acorn Equality Fund Grantee – Peoria County

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