By Todd Cohen
GREENSBORO, N.C. — Looking for a way to raise money for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, a group of supporters of the Triad Health Project created the Green Party and raised over $10,000 in 1995-96 for the Greensboro-based AIDS service organization.
In 1998, organizers of that fundraising effort created the Guilford Green Foundation to raise money and award grants to organizations serving that population.
Through annual fundraising events, including a black-tie gala each spring and four bingo games throughout the year, the foundation has raised more than $260,000 for the Guilford Green Foundation Endowment, a donor-advised fund at the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro.
Guilford Green, which aims to increase the endowment to $1 million, earmarks most of the funds it raises for grants, says Cecelia Thompson, a recent graduate of Elon University who is the foundation’s administrative director.
The foundation last year made 15 grants totaling $47,000, up from $30,000 in 1999.
Those grants ranged from $500 to Greensboro Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, or PFLAG, to start a newsletter, to $10,000 to the Triad Health Project to update its computers.
The foundation also is a partner in the Piedmont Unity Project, which raises money to benefit organizations serving the same population.
The project, launched last fall, is one of 39 sites throughout the United States taking part in a national partnership that will provide matching funds of $100,000 over two years if a local effort raises $200,000.
So far, the Guilford Green Foundation and the local project have raised $132,000, exceeding their first-year goal by $32,000, and already have received $50,000 in matching funds from the New York City-based National Community Funding Partnership for Lesbian and Gay Issues.
The partnership is an affinity group of the Council on Foundations in Washington, D.C., known as Funders for Lesbian and Gay Issues.
Bob Page, founder and CEO of Replacements Ltd. in Greensboro, serves as honorary chair for the local initiative.
Guilford Green has placed $25,000 from funds raised through the project in its endowment at the community foundation, says Thompson, who also is a special projects assistant for the community foundation.
With some funds to be used to help cover administrative costs, most of the remainder of the funds raised so far for the Piedmont Unity Project will be used to make grants in Alamance, Davidson, Guilford, Randolph and Rockingham counties, and to pay for a community assessment of the needs in those counties for programs serving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
The foundation has scheduled its next Green Queen Bingo events for Nov. 11 at The Empire Room in downtown Greensboro, also the site of next spring’s black-tie gala, scheduled for March 25.
Co-chairs of the foundation’s board are entrepreneur Margie Walker, a real estate investor for Walker Investment Properties, and Brian Cockman, communications specialist for the city of Greensboro, and co-chairs of next year’s gala are Michael Byrd, owner of J Michael’s Salon, and hairdresser Jay Charles, all of Greensboro.