|Focus||Conservation, social justice, LGBT rights|
|Jon Stryker, founder and president
Kevin Jennings, executive director
|Mission||"To ensure that LGBT people and our fellow apes thrive in a world where social and environmental justice are a reality."|
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."
The Arcus Foundation is the top LGBT-specific grant-making organization in the United States. The foundation was founded by Jon Stryker, heir to the Stryker Corporation medical supply company fortune. The foundation has offices in New York, New York, and Cambridge, England.
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. 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.
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.
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. 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.
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."
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.” 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.
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. In April 2012, Annette Lanjouw was appointed as interim executive director. 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.
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