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A Century United: United Way’s Support of the LGBTQ+ Community Spans Decades

June 13th, 2023

Like many organizations, United Way of Central Ohio celebrates and honors the LGBTQ+ community during Pride Month every June. But our work and support has always gone beyond celebration. For many decades, we have been committed to creating and maintaining a community where everyone has equitable opportunity to participate and contribute to their own success. And as a trusted partner in the community for 100 years, we understand from experience that the best solutions are crafted by diverse perspectives and stakeholders.

As we celebrate our 100th year of impact in 2023, we take a look back at some of our work promoting and supporting inclusivity through the decades:

1990: United Way of Central Ohio becomes an early and ongoing supporter of Equitas Health (formerly AIDS Resource Center Ohio).

2003: Then Columbus City Councilwoman Mary Jo Hudson was elected as a United Way board member, providing a “seat at the table” for LGBTQ perspectives. Tom Grote, the co-founder and former board chair of the Equality Ohio Education Fund, replaced her on the board when she resigned.

2007: United Way of Central Ohio helped lead the GLBT Census, an anonymous survey of LGBTQ households that provided the most detailed information on central Ohio’s LGBTQ community ever compiled.

2008 – We started Pride Leadership, an 8-month training program for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgendered professionals designed to facilitate their placement onto volunteer boards and leadership roles on committees with the intent of giving the LGBT population a voice in community leadership. Pride Leadership has nearly 250 LGBTQ+ graduates. Project Diversity has over 600 graduates.

2009: United Way of Central Ohio committed funding over the next three years to Kaleidoscope Youth Center, the only organization in Ohio solely dedicated to supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth.

2010: We launched PRIDE Council, the first United Way LGBTQ giving group in the country, to make an even bigger difference in our community – one that can improve the lives of all central Ohioans.

2013: We convened the first Out & Equal forum, bringing together representatives from over 30 central Ohio companies and nonprofit organizations to discuss equality in the workplace.

2018: United Way’s Pride United group hosted Drag United, a charitable drag show benefiting Kaleidoscope Youth Center.

2019: United Way published a report titled “More Like Us,” which summarized survey results on the state of nonprofit board diversity in central Ohio. The findings indicated that local nonprofit boards are less diverse than Franklin County across various demographics.

United Way of Central Ohio is proud of our work to give members of the LGBTQ+ community a voice and a seat at the table in our community. We are committed to working year round to ensure all central Ohio residents are heard and supported. We will continue to actively work to end all forms of inequities by dismantling unfair policies/procedures, and by engaging diverse residents and community members, particularly those whose voices have traditionally been marginalized.

Join us in embracing and working toward diversity, equity and inclusion for every person in central Ohio every day.

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