Living at the intersection of the marginalized identities of Blackness and Queerness, Black LGBTQ+ Chicagoans face risk factors for adverse health, economic, and social outcomes. The Black Queer Equity Index (BQEI) seeks to alleviate these factors by helping organizations live up to their values of anti-racism and equitable service of Black LGBTQ+ people.

The BQEI Explained:

Inspired by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, the BQEI will define key measures of Black Queer equity to be applied industry-wide to entities serving Black Queer people, propose tangible recommendations for improvement, and provide tools to monitor and measure progress. Creating a culture of equity and inclusion will increase employment opportunities, quality of life, and access to resources for Black Queer people, ultimately helping to mitigate risk factors facing Black Queer people across Chicagoland.

1. Lighthouse Foundation has invited the following LGBTQ+ serving orgs to join the first BQEI cohort:

AIDS Foundation Chicago, Center on Halsted, Chicago House, Equality Illinois, and Howard Brown Health. These organizations are among the most influential and well-funded LGBTQ+ serving institutions in Chicago. Together, they control a combined $186 million in funding, which translates to 1,000+ jobs and tens of thousands served.

2. Create the Survey

Lighthouse Foundation partnered with the UIC Graduate Public Administration Capstone course, and the UIC Urban Studies Senior Capstone course to create the quantitative and qualitative surveys to collect information from the BQEI Cohort. We then convened an 11-member Advisory Council to provide input around content and data priorities for each survey based on their lived experiences as stakeholders in Chicago LGBTQ+ nonprofits and beyond.

This Advisory Council included independent experts and leading voices in activism, antiracism, social justice, public health and public policy, representing a wide crossection of the Queer community. It also included Black and Brown Queer representatives from the five institutions that we are surveying who bring a wealth of lived experience, antiracism insight, diversity, equity, and inclusion training, and nonprofit management experience.

3. Lighthouse Foundation will convene an Equity Taskforce

Lighthouse Foundation will convene a Black Queer Equity Taskforce comprised of respected leaders from philanthropy, social services, and Northwestern’s EDIT Program, which is the Evaluation Data Integration and Technical Assistance program.


Together, this taskforce will interpret the survey results and present participating organizations with an assessment of where they are on the indicators of equity for Black Queer people and recommendations for changes to implement in the next year. Lighthouse Foundation will publicly release the results with an opportunity for Q&A.

4. Expand Our Impact

Once organizations receive assessment results, they will have a year to implement recommendations and will receive a grade that year and each subsequent year on the implementation of the survey results and recommendations.


Each subsequent year, participating organizations will be given a report card grade that will summarize the equity indicator assessment. Additionally, Lighthouse Foundation will invite new organizations to join the index and will continue to scale the BQEI to address other institutions within Chicago and beyond.


Our BQEI Advisory Council is made up of representatives from top LGBTQ+ serving organizations in Chicago, Public Health and Policy experts, and social justice advocates. The Advisory Council has generated content and data priorities for the BQEI survey based on their lived experiences as stakeholders in Chicago LGBTQ+ nonprofits and beyond. Throughout the entire process, they also provide consultation and feedback. 

Tracy Baim
Angela E. L. Barnes
Zahara Bassett
Consuella Brown 
Derrick C. Dawson
Coleman Goode
Serette B. King
Reyna Ortiz 
Morgan Sherm
Joshua Travis

We would like to thank the following funders for their help in making the BQEI possible:


Endowment Fund