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Tuesday September 2nd 2014

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Sunday’s Child is Giving Back

By Jessica Forbes

Sunday’s Child, a new philanthropic organization serving Pensacola, is preparing to make its debut.

Currently awaiting approval of its 501(c)(3) or non-profit status, the organization is slowly spreading the word about its mission and its structure, explained Chuck Presti, president and co-founder of Sunday’s Child.

Many of the founding members of Sunday’s Child are also members of the local lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community, all who met to find a way to give back to Pensacola as a whole. A common goal emerged to that aim, which was awarding grants to charitable organizations that promote equality and inclusivity.

“A small group of friends got together and were discussing what we could do as a group to give back to the greater Pensacola area,” Presti remembered of the initial, informal meetings regarding a possible philanthropic project in July 2013. “We felt that an existing charity model in Pensacola that is really effective and successful and has done a great job for the community is Impact 100, the women’s organization.”

In addition to using Impact 100’s structure as a reference point, Sunday’s Child’s founders (some of whom are also active in Impact 100) spent time assessing unmet needs in the community to determine which areas they could focus attention. “We wanted to include ideas and concepts that would encourage change in having a more inclusive community. That’s where we started,” Presti said. “We found that there was quite a bit of excitement, not just in the LGBT world, but even in the heterosexual community that wanted to support this type of objective and mission.”

Presti believes that one important way Sunday’s Child will distinguish itself is by offering an alternative for grant applicants requiring less than $100,000, the minimum award available through Impact 100. “Ours are $25,000 to $50,000,” Presti said of Sunday’s Child award amounts. “We’re going after the smaller charities, the smaller projects and filling that need.”

Once the program is up and running, local charities will be able to apply for grants, awarded once a year, under six categories: Arts & Culture; Education; Animals, Environment, Recreation & Preservation; LGBT & Family; Health & Wellness; and Economic.

Criteria for grant applicants will include demonstrating the organization’s ability to be inclusive and promote equality. Presti believes the most common way organizations can and will demonstrate this is through non-discriminatory clauses that include sexual orientation.  “We really want to get that communication out, not just to the charities, but also spread to the community as a whole, to corporations and businesses to become more aware of discriminatory practices, to understand them so they can negate them.”

Once membership is open after obtaining a non-profit status, a single membership in Sunday’s Child will be $1,000 annually. “Each membership is a vote toward a grant opportunity for a charity,” Presti explained, adding that ensemble memberships will also be available. “You will have one vote for that $1,000, but as a group you can participate and become actively involved in the organization,” he said.

Each year, 100 percent of the membership fees will go to the selected charities within each category, and membership in Sunday’s Child is open to both men and women. “The only requirement is that you be 18 years or older and that you are either LGBT or that you embrace the concept of inclusiveness and promoting equality, and that you want to give back to the community,” Presti said.

Like Pensacola’s highly successful LGBT gathering on the beach every Memorial Day weekend, Presti hopes the economic impact that Sunday’s Child will be a catalyst for the community as a whole to consider and foster greater diversity.

“As you start getting people together, I think fears start to disappear and you realize that we’re all in the same boat, and we’re all people. We may be a diverse group, but we’re all human. I really would like to have that momentum continue, and I do think this could be particularly helpful,” Presti said.

Presti said he also hopes Sunday’s Child will encourage other LGBT Pensacolians to participate in community organizations if they are not already and bring members of the community together so all can have an opportunity to connect, collaborate and learn from one another.

“As a gay man, I thought it was important to focus on the part that I felt in the past had been a challenge within the community and with other issues personally and professionally. I’m further along in my life, but there are a lot of people who are younger who are not. I feel that I could really make a difference, not just with the charities, but with the people who maybe feel isolated, don’t feel a part of a community and don’t feel connected,” Presti said.

While the program and membership development is on hold until Sunday’s Child’s non-profit status is approved (which Presti believes could come any day), the organization can currently accept donations to help support administrative costs. “Right now, it’s kind of a moving target,” Presti said of an official program start date. “We’re excited to get the word out and let people know to anticipate that we’ll be coming out.”

For additional information, visit sundayschild.org.