The following article is an excerpt from Maven’s Fifth Anniversary Report. To read the full report, please click here.
In conjunction with its fifth anniversary, Maven Leadership Collective is launching the Elevate Impact Fund. The $100,000 fund will provide queer and trans social impact leaders of color with much-needed resources without the normal red-tape we encounter. Maven is an ideas lab, based in South and Central Florida, that brings together queer and trans leaders of color and their allies from various community sectors to formulate bold solutions to societal problems such as workplace discrimination and the lack of affordable housing. Past leaders have focused on areas as diverse as civic engagement, health equity, and access to the arts.
“In launching the Elevate Impact Fund, it’s our hope that we make it easier for those most impacted by injustice to chart the path forward,” says Corey Davis (he | they), Maven’s co-founder and executive director. “The Elevate Impact Fund will change their trajectory exponentially.”
Prior to the creation of the fund, Maven provided monetary support to several program alumnx and other community leaders to allow them to continue their important work in the community. Gabriella Rodriguez (she | ella) is the executive director of QLatinx, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting Central Florida’s queer community. Maven awarded her $10,000 to ensure a smooth transition into her new role. Maven covered the cost of rehearsal studio space for dancer and choreographer, Stephan St. Louis (they | them).
“Receiving funding from Maven was an affirming experience,” says St. Louis. “It made me feel seen, made my vision a more tangible reality and provided a boost of confidence that helped to fuel and support the work.”
St. Louis used these funds to continue to develop Queer Sankofa after participating in Maven’s Creators Studio program.
“Queer Sankofa unleashes the activism power of Afro Caribbean and Afro diasporic art and storytelling, creating immersive performance experiences and interactive workshops,” says St. Louis.
They say the project showcases the lived experiences of queer and trans Caribbean people of color in an effort to effect change by looking to Caribbean cultural expressions as, “examples/methods of organizing, strengthening and sustaining communities.”
The Elevate Impact Fund will allow Maven to provide assistance to even more people who often operate outside of the talent pipelines, funding streams, and high-profile platforms that lead to career advancement in today’s competitive professional environment.
“Investing in this way allows us to put our money where our mouth is,” says Davis. “Maven can’t call on others to invest, when we are not modeling leadership in that area. Placing this fund at the center of our new ecosystem of support that we provide to social impact leaders only solidifies what we have been doing informally over the past five years—especially during the pandemic. We trust these leaders because we know them, we know their work, and we know their commitment.”
Many of those who come through one of Maven’s programs go on to donate to the organization.
Jasmen Rogers (she | her) is one such donor.
“As an alumna of Maven Leadership Collective’s second cohort and Master Class, it is so important for me to give back to an organization that has given so much to me,” says Rogers. “The leadership skills, the networks built, and the ongoing coaching has leveled up my business as a queer leader of color in ways that only Maven can.”
Rogers also encourages others to donate to Maven.
“In a world lacking diverse leadership, Maven is a safe incubator for queer and trans leaders of color who are ready to grow their impact,” says Rogers. “Maven occupies a necessary space in our leadership ecosystem. If we say we value diverse leadership and the voices of LGBTQ+ folks, we must invest in the organizations creating these spaces.”
Donors who want to support the efforts of people like Gabriella and Stephan can donate here. There is no better time than now to support queer and trans leaders of color in Florida. Supporting the Elevate Impact Fund will allow a larger portion of our own to take their newly gained skills even further in service to the community.