Center for Anti-Violence Education

Giving them a fighting chance

In Fall 2004, the future of the Center for Anti-Violence Education looked grim. The organization, which uses education, physical empowerment, and leadership development to break cycles of violence, was without an Executive Director and had almost $80,000 in debt. The entire staff had been laid off and it seemed CAE would have to close its doors.

This reality, however, was met with a resounding call for support. Everyone from teenagers to grandparents rallied around CAE. Participants, past staff, and members of the community stepped up to run the organization in a last-chance effort to rescue it. One of those volunteers, Tracy Hobson, who first started in CAE's karate program in 1998, became the first hired staff as Executive Director in September 2005. But by then, its fiscal crisis had caused CAE to lose credibility among institutional funders.

Stonewall Community Foundation was the first foundation to support CAE after its near-collapse. Stonewall believed in and was willing to take a chance on CAE, knowing the importance of its mission and the resolve of its leaders. This move, which helped other foundations follow suit, played a key role in the sacred story of CAE’s “resurrection.” And this was not the first nor last time that Stonewall would play an integral part in CAE’s work.

Stonewall was, in fact, the very first LGBTQ foundation that funded CAE’s work. Stonewall’s support made it possible for the organization to begin offering onsite self-defense classes for LGBTQ people – and the first for people living with HIV and AIDS.

Stonewall’s continued support has helped behind the scenes at CAE, too: Stonewall was instrumental in CAE receiving a prestigious and large grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Recently, Stonewall grants have helped to strengthen CAE’s data infrastructure and establish Pride Protectors, an initiative that aids homeless LGBTQ youth in becoming paid self-defense instructors, and, an online resource center with safety planning tools and videos of self-defense techniques.

CAE has grown immeasurably from the organization it was in 2004. Stonewall’s unwavering partnership has helped make CAE what it is today. CAE boasts a staff of six, with 30 additional part-time and per-diem instructors who engage 3,000 people and 70 organizations each year, including the Ali Forney Center, the SafeHomes residence, and the Staten Island Pride Center.

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