Arcus Foundation

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Arcus Foundation
Arcus Foundation Logo.JPG
FounderJon Stryker
TypePrivate foundation
FocusConservation, social justice, LGBT rights
Area served
Key people
Jon Stryker, founder and president
Annette Lanjouw and Jason McGill, co-executive directors[2]
Revenue (2016)
$33,395,270 [3]
Expenses (2016)$39,211,046 [3]
Endowment$168,714,924 (2016) [3]

The Arcus Foundation is a charitable foundation focused on issues related to LGBT rights, social justice and conservation. The foundation's stated mission is "to ensure that LGBT people and our fellow apes thrive in a world where social and environmental justice are a reality."[4]

The Arcus Foundation is the top LGBT-specific grant-making organization in the United States.[5] The foundation was founded by Jon Stryker, heir to the Stryker Corporation medical supply company fortune.[6] The foundation has offices in New York City and Cambridge, England.[7]


Jane Goodall
Jane Goodall's work has been supported by the Arcus Foundation

Arcus Foundation was founded in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 2000 by Jon Stryker, a U.S. architect, philanthropist, social and environmental activist, billionaire stockholder, and heir to the Stryker Corporation medical supply company fortune.[8] As a teenager, Stryker kept a monkey as a pet, until keeping it domestically seemed inhumane, at which point he donated the monkey to the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, Illinois.


Great apes[edit]

The foundation’s great apes strategy funds projects that promote conservation of the world’s gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans, and gibbons. The foundation also funds projects that advocate strengthening international protection of great apes and sanctuaries. Arcus advocates increased recognition of the rights of great apes to live free of abuse, exploitation and private ownership. Arcus has supported Jane Goodall's work.[9][10]

LGBT rights[edit]

Rainbow flag over Liverpool Town Hall
Arcus Foundation's social justice strategy primarily supports LGBT advocacy around the world

The Arcus Foundation is a major supporter of LGBT advocacy efforts. The foundation has given money to oppose religious liberty exemptions, including a 2014 grant of $100,000 to the American Civil Liberties Foundation supporting “communications strategies to convince conservative Americans that religious exemptions are 'un-American'" and a $600,000 grant to the ACLU in 2013 to support the ACLU's Campaign to End the Use of Religion to Discriminate.[11] In 2013, the Arcus Foundation launched a new Social Justice Initiative which has placed a heavy emphasis on reaching out to faith communities around the world to build cultural acceptance for LGBT people.[12]

In January 2011, the foundation made a $23 million grant to establish the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership at Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Michigan.[13][14]

In 2014, Arcus awarded $75,000 to the Washington, DC-based Faithful America to “promote greater media visibility for Christians who denounce the abuse of religious-freedom arguments to oppose full equality” for LGBT people. Arcus has also awarded at least $200,000 to a coalition of groups seeking to "counter the narrative of the Catholic Church" and "to support pro-LGBT faith advocates to influence and counter the narrative of the Catholic Church and its ultra-conservative affiliates."[15][16]

In April 2015, the Catholic News Agency (CNA) published an article disclosing that the Religion News Service (RNS), a U.S. news agency focused on religion, ethics, spirituality and moral issues, had received a grant of $120,000 from the Arcus Foundation. The grant's stated intent was “to recruit and equip LGBT supportive leaders and advocates to counter rejection and antagonism within traditionally conservative Christian churches.”[17] The CNA story questioned whether the grant had biased RNS's coverage of traditional religion, specifically citing an RNS article on Cardinal Raymond Burke. In response to the CNA report, RNS's editor-in-chief denied that the Arcus grant had any influence over editorial decisions at RNS.[18]

In December 2015, the Arcus Foundation announced $15 million in funding to boost the transgender movement in the U.S. and globally.[19]


In May 2010, Urvashi Vaid's departure as executive director of the foundation was announced, and Fred Davie, a former member of the Advisory Council of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, became its executive director.[20] In April 2012, Annette Lanjouw was appointed as interim executive director.[21] Lanjouw returned to her primary role as vice president of strategic initiatives and great ape programs when Kevin Jennings became executive director in September 2012.[1][22]


  1. ^ a b c d "GuideStar Reports for Arcus Foundation". GuideStar. Retrieved July 24, 2013.
  2. ^ "Arcus Foundation and Smithsonian American Art Museum Get New Leaders". Chronicle of Philanthropy. Retrieved September 10, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c "IRS Form 990 2016" (PDF). GuideStar. Internal Revenue Service. Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Who We Are". Arcus Foundation. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  5. ^ Reese, Phil (April 26, 2012). "Nation's largest LGBT funder changing its focus?". Washington Blade. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  6. ^ "Interview with Jon Stryker -- A Journey to Inclusive Philanthropy". Global Giving Matters. Summer 2008. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  7. ^ "No. 43: Jon L. Stryker". Chronicle of Philanthropy. February 26, 2012. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  8. ^ "SEC filings on Stryker Corp". U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. December 31, 2008. Retrieved July 24, 2013.
  9. ^ Jones, Al (August 30, 2014). "Kalamazoo Community Foundation relocates into the former Arcus Foundation Building in downtown Kalamazoo". MLive. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  10. ^ "Arcus Foundation: Grants for Animals and Wildlife". Inside Philanthropy. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  11. ^ Jones, Kevin (February 13, 2015). "Are wealthy US foundations paying to suppress religious freedom?". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  12. ^ Johnson, Sarah (October 21, 2013). "The Arcus Foundation Focuses on Outreach to Faith Communities". Inside Philanthropy. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  13. ^ "Kalamazoo College Receives $23 Million Grant from Arcus Foundation to Fund Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership". Kalamazoo College. January 17, 2012.
  14. ^ "Foundation gives $23M grant to Kalamazoo College". Boston Globe. January 17, 2012. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  15. ^ "Anti-Cordileone ad misrepresents Catholicism, archdiocese says". Washington Times. April 17, 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  16. ^ Jones, Kevin. "LGBT foundation aims to counter Vatican family synod". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  17. ^ Jones, Kevin (1 April 2015). "An Arcus news service? RNS denies LGBT money influences religion coverage". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  18. ^ O'Loughlin, Michael (8 April 2015). "Religion News Service defends grant from gay-rights group". Crux. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  19. ^ Holden, Dominic (December 8, 2015). "Unprecedented $20 Million Announced For Transgender Causes". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  20. ^ Killian, Chris (May 29, 2010). "New leadership announced for Arcus Foundation". Kalamazoo Gazette. Retrieved July 24, 2013.
  21. ^ "Arcus Foundation Appoints Annette Lanjouw Interim Executive Director". Arcus Foundation. April 6, 2012. Archived from the original on July 22, 2012.
  22. ^ Reynolds, Daniel (July 13, 2012). "The Arcus Foundation Names Kevin Jennings Executive Director". The Advocate. Retrieved July 24, 2013.

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