Youth Philanthropists Award $5K to Organizations That Support Trans and LGBTQ+ Communities

Two girls at school looking at each other and smiling.

TUCSON, Ariz., (December 20, 2022) Unidas, the award-winning after-school teen program run by the Women’s Foundation for the State of Arizona (WFSA), selected transgender rights as the focus of this semester’s grant and has awarded $5,000 in funding to three organizations.  

After navigating the grantmaking process as a group, the Unidas teens selected the following: 

  • Mariposas Sin Fronteras – A Tucson-based group that seeks to advocate for immigrants’ rights and end the systemic violence and abuse of LGBTQ people held in prison and immigration detention centers.  
  • Equality AZ – Brings community voices into the policymaking process to challenge anti-LGBTQ+ bills and champion equal rights.
  • Southern AZ Gender Alliance – Supports, advocates, and promotes justice for Southern Arizona’s transgender, non-binary, and gender-creative people. 

“This semester, with the opportunity to give to multiple organizations, we wanted to select people and communities who would receive the biggest impact from the grant,” said Makenna Wheeler, a mentor within the Unidas program.  

Unidas is a unique philanthropy and leadership program that supports teens and young adults ranging in age from 14-22 as they navigate a selection process that includes community dialogue to guide their philanthropic decision.  
The choice to award to multiple organizations was inspired by the chronic underfunding of organizations supporting marginalized communities. 

Unidas participants work throughout the semester to learn about leadership and philanthropy, investing in themselves by investing resources directly into their community. These students engage in a collective journey to learn about philanthropy and the nonprofit sector to address the challenges and barriers marginalized communities face. Working together with peers, participants build a shared foundation and framework through both academic and relational community research. 

“These partnerships extended from the collaboration Unidas participants had with one another in community space as active agents. By engaging in philanthropic work, these powerful young leaders equip themselves to navigate and organize within existing institutions while building their capacity to think beyond existing structures and redefine systems of power to serve their community better,” said Unidas Program Manager Daniela Maya. 

The impact of Unidas spans decades and includes collaboration with over 11 schools and more than 47 nonprofit organizations. This number has been growing as the program recently expanded to include statewide participation.  

Unidas is accepting applications from high-school students and transition-age youth for the Spring semester beginning at the end of January 2023. To learn more and apply, visit