We accelerate civic progress for the LGBTQ community in Greater Philadelphia and beyond

Activating an Activist’s Wealth

A long-time advocate for the LGBTQ community left an unprecedented legacy.

As a child growing up in South Philly, Mel Heifetz made a promise to give back to his community when he had the means. Today, he is a successful entrepreneur and real estate investor known across the country for his support of gay and civil rights. Mel established the GLBT Fund of America at the Philadelphia Foundation in 2007, which was created to advance the GLBT community in areas such as civil rights, social justice and health needs. In 2017, he endowed an incredible $16 million to the fund, which will support causes he cares about in perpetuity.

Pioneering LGBTQ-Friendly Affordable Housing

A first-of-its-kind initiative in Philadelphia addresses a critical need.

While more than 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, historically there have not been dedicated services for this group of young adults. To address this clear need, the Philadelphia Foundation committed $100,000 in partnership with Project HOME to build support for LGBTQ-friendly specialized housing services for young adults between the ages of 18 and 23. In addition to housing, the Gloria Casarez Residence will offer residents programs emphasizing, education, employment, life skills and community-building activities.

Funding & Promoting AIDS Research

Legacy funds enable the ongoing pursuit of a cure for HIV.

The Robert I. Jacobs Fund was established in 1992 to fund AIDS research. It has funded $1.3 million in grants that include support for medical research by Dr. Luis Montaner at the Wistar Institute – a program which encompasses biomedical research, community education and internship opportunities for local students. A recently published study in Science Translational Medicine based on his research refuted an earlier landmark study on identifying HIV cell markers.