June 28, 2016 at 9:17 am EDT | by Steve Charing
New Maryland LGBT foundation debuts
Matt Thorn, gay news, Washington Blade, Pride Foundation

Matt Thorn is one of three co-founders of the newly launched Pride Foundation of Maryland. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Coinciding with the 47th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising and to honor the victims of the Orlando massacre on June 12, a new tax-exempt, Internet-based, all-volunteer organization was launched June 28 called the Pride Foundation of Maryland.

It was formed to promote the culture, history, and well-being of Maryland’s LGBT community, according to the group’s press release announcing its formation.

Three individuals who previously had ties to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland (GLCCB) founded the organization. Brian Gaither, Matt Newcomer and Matt Thorn are all former board members of the GLCCB. They have managed the basic financial, operational and regulatory obligations since June 2014 when the foundation was chartered.

Unique to many LGBT organizations, the foundation is designed to be managed entirely by volunteers. It employs social media and will use the talents of LGBT people “to create and promote programs that celebrate our lives and uplift us as individuals,” the statement notes.

“I’ve worked with a number of LGBT organizations. Some need staff. But the model for the Pride Foundation only works if it’s committed to the principle of being a volunteer-run organization,” says Thorn, who was the GLCCB’s executive director from 2013-2014.

The foundation is a shared resource of Maryland’s LGBT community, which will provide fundraising tools, targeted outreach and other support to those working to fulfill the foundation’s mission.

“Through its digital infrastructure, the foundation can support all programming conceived by and directed toward the multiple points of intersectionality in the diverse LGBT community,” says the statement. “Programming may include a speaker’s series, coordinated exhibits with Maryland institutions, festivals for our families or professional networking. Ultimately, the scale and scope of our programming will be determined by those who step forward to work through the foundation.”

For example, an LGBT family may want to organize an LGBT family fair. The foundation can help connect with existing organizations to plan the event. It can offer support in developing a fundraising page on the website, and it can send emails to other members of the foundation to publicize the event.

The foundation will not be housed in an office, and since it is all-volunteer organization, overhead costs are expected to be minimal. The founders expect to draw from volunteers throughout the community to carry out programs and events to reach every part of the community.

“Over time, the capacity of the Foundation will be enhanced by a broader base of supporters,” says the statement. “Our volunteers will become more efficient organizers, and our lists will become better qualified to connect individuals with programming that his most relevant to them.”

The founders say that there is no reason why the foundation could not be used to support the efforts of existing groups such as the Frederick Center, Baltimore’s GLCCB, and others.

“The financial woes that have plagued LGBT organizations are not going away,” Gaither told the Blade. “Unfortunately, we’re stuck in a place where we can’t afford to maintain them, but at the same time the community can’t afford to be without them. Shifting the model in the way that the foundation has been designed to do means we can be connected and organized without constantly shuffling for resources just to keep the lights on.”

To connect with the foundation, and to learn more, visit pridemd.org or email info@pridemd.org.

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