Chicago-based Lighthouse Foundation hosted an online presentation April 15 to discuss its upcoming Black Queer Equity Index project.
The initiativeannounced last winter by Rev. Jamie Frazier, who heads the foundation and is pastor at Lighthouse Church in Lincoln Parkwill measure equity and representation within five prominent service and advocacy organizations. Those include AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC), Center on Halsted, Chicago House, Equality Illinois and Howard Brown Health.
The agencies have about $186 million combined in funding, Frazier noted.
Lighthouse's index, modeled on HRC's long-established Corporate Equality Index, will survey Black staff, administrators and board members for qualitative and quantitative measures of how each organization fosters diversity and equity for Black LGBTQ individuals. Frazier emphasized that since these organizations are often responsible for service delivery to Black clients, they should be transparent about equity and diversity within their organizational ranks.
"As [Black stakeholders] are strengthened, they will in turn better serve their institutions in better serving their communities," Frazier said.
He added that the index would also ultimately benchmark how well the organizations provide services in underserved neighborhoods on Chicago's South and West Sides. Data would be tabulated in conjunction with researchers at University of Illinois — Chicago and Northwestern University.
Agency heads from AFC, Chicago House, Center on Halsted and Howard Brown Health spoke in favor of the initiative at the online meeting.
AFC CEO and President John Peller said the initiative could provide a "loving push" to provide more support for Black stakeholders, while Howard Brown Health CEO and President David Munar said it would help his organization "continue to stretch."
Center on Halsted CEO Modesto Tico Valle admitted that he has been been more fearful as bigotry and racism has been normalized amongst many in the past several years. "If I am scared, my staff is scared and the clients are scared," he added.
Lighthouse will distribute the surveys to the organizations in the next two weeks, then tabulate results over the course of this summer. Results will be published in late 2021, Frazier said.
The five organizations will then be given a chance to implement recommendations and address findings, then finally handed an overall "grade" in 2022. Results will be updated regularly.