Arcus Foundation


The mission of the foundation is to achieve social justice that is inclusive of sexual orientation, gender identity and race, and to ensure conservation and respect of the great apes.


Established in 1997 in MI - The grantmaker is a signatory to Philanthropy’s Promise, an initiative of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP). By signing on, the grantmaker has committed to allocating the majority of its grantmaking dollars to marginalized communities and at least 25 percent to social justice strategies, such as advocacy, community organizing, and civic engagement

Grantmaking Programs

U.S. Social Justice

The program works at the intersection of sexual/gender justice, racial justice, and economic justice, investing primarily in youth, communities of color, and targeted faith communities, with special priority for youth of color, transgender populations, and work by and for affected communities. The foundation invests in impactful culture, leadership, and protections for LGBT youth and communities of color.

Great Apes

The foundation’s Great Apes strategy is driven by its mission to ensure conservation and respect for the world’s gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans, and gibbons, who are under threat in every country where they live.The strategy aims to: 1) Reconcile socio-economic development and conservation activities in priority great ape landscapes; 2) Build an integrated and coordinated conservation movement; 3) Improve respect and recognition for the intrinsic value of apes. It supports three sub-program areas: 1) Conservation of Apes: reduce threats to apes in their natural habitat, focusing specifically on protection of ape populations and habitats in priority landscapes; 2) Wellbeing of Apes in Captivity: strengthen international protection of great apes in their range states and beyond and to ensure high standards of care for them in captivity by providing them with effective sanctuaries; 3) Great Apes and Ethics: increase the recognition of and respect for the rights and intrinsic value of the great apes, especially the right to live free of abuse, exploitation and private ownership.

International Human Rights

The foundation contributes to the development of a global movement integrating sexual orientation and gender identity into shared conceptions of human rights on national, regional, and international levels. To do this work, the foundation invests in policy and cultural changes in targeted countries--primarily in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Eastern Europe--as well as change-makers and their leadership at the United Nations and within human rights organizations with regional scope. Among the foundation priorities are supporting the human rights of transgender people, lifting LGBT and pro-LGBT faith voices particularly at the U.N., and increasing the funding available to the LGBT-related work of other foundations, governments, corporations, and individuals.

Global Religions

The program elevates pro-LGBT religious voices in the Global South, the Islamic world, U.S. communities of color, transgender populations, and with influence at U.N, regional, and national policy bodies.It also combats those who would misuse religion to deny the full humanity of LGBT people, including under the guise of so-called “religious exemptions” to civil rights laws. Strategic funding areas are: 1) Support Positive Religious Leaders and Advocates. Increase diverse pro-LGBT voices within target communities, specifically: the Islamic world, U.S. communities of color, the Global South, and those with influence among UN, regional, and national policy-making bodies. Develop effective faith messages and messengers that impact these communities; 2) Fight the Abuse of Religion to Deny Protection to LGBT people: Educate justice movements and the public about the abuse of religious freedoms through “religious exemptions,” and develop religious and legal strategies to hold exemptions in check. Challenge religious opponents of LGBT people in the U.S. and internationally. Develop communications strategies to counter the discrimination and dehumanization of LGBT people by some religious institutions.

Program-Related Investment

The foundation has made a PRI in the form of a loan to an organization for the conservation of wildlife and supporting community development in the Greater Laikipia region of Kenya.