Celebrating 26 years of meeting the emerging needs in the LGBTQ+ community
In 1992, as it seemed as if the worst days of the AIDS epidemic seemed behind us, John Cunningham wondered if a partnership between the LGBTQ+ community and The Philadelphia Foundation (TPF) might help expand funding to address quality-of-life issues beyond AIDS. Over 18 months, he and Walter Lear hosted discussions among a diverse cross-section of LGBTQ+ leaders about whether to create a community fund that would support key areas: civil rights and equal protection under the law; arts and culture; and, education, health, and human services.
Articles of Incorporation were signed in December 1993 with support from those leaders as well as staff and board leadership of TPF.
On Feb. 22, 1995, the Delaware Valley Legacy Fund launched with a founding board, a donor-advised fund agreement with TPF, and a mission and bylaws. In the first three years, a matching-grant challenge (supported by an organization now known as the Funders for LGBTQ+ issues) led to distribution of $250,000 in grants. Additional support came from The Samuel S. Fels Fund and The William Penn Foundation.
In addition to annual grant making, DVLF began building a community endowment to fund projects in perpetuity and in accordance with the wishes of donors. Continuous annual fundraising coupled with outreach and education for estate planning and bequests led to the need to hire an executive director in 2004 (Perry Monastero), with support from Jim Bryson and the Out-Givers (a Gill Foundation project).
Under Perry’s leadership, DVLF developed a Legacy Society with nearly 50 people whose estate plans include bequest gifts to the LGBTQ+ community. In 2009, Chris Bartlett and Sandra Thompson served as half-time interim co-directors until John Moeller became executive director in 2010. During this time, DVLF participated in the Racial Equity Initiative, providing over $150,000 to a diverse array of organizations. In 2012, Samantha Giusti became executive director and helped lead the organization to meet one of its initial goals: a $1-million endowment.
Since its founding, DVLF has distributed nearly 1M in grants to LGBTQ+ community organizations in the Greater Philadelphia area. Many groups have contributed to its success over its first 26 years:
Donors who have worked with DVLF on their planned giving and bequests
Donors who have participated in annual giving, workplace campaigns, special events (HEROES and TOY), and Our Night Out
Volunteers, community leaders, committee members, and board members
Executive directors and partners such as TPF, its president, and its current and former staff