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An Investment for our Future – Statement from our Executive Director

An Investment for our Future – Statement from... An Investment for our Future – Statement from...

Statement from Rainbow Railroad’s Executive Director, Kimahli Powell

Every time an organization begins a new strategic planning process, it’s an opportunity to dream, ideate, debate, discuss and – yes –  strategize where the organization will be in the future. This summer, Rainbow Railroad’s staff and board of directors finalized and approved a new 3 year strategic plan that will take the organization to the end of 2025. We look forward to sharing it with everyone in the New Year. 

It’s also an opportunity to reflect on the progress achieved. Something that Rainbow Railroad can speak proudly of. 

It’s incredible to me that I’ve had the privilege of leading 3 strategic planning discussions as Executive Director. Even more remarkable is how much we’ve been able to achieve over a short period of time. When the founders of Rainbow Railroad built this organization, they used whatever tools and resources they had available, with the idea of doing whatever they could to help LGBTQI+ people at risk. They did that by working one case at a time, helping one person at a time, until they realized they needed to expand and scale the organization. 

I’ve been so grateful to drive this work over two strategic plans, and now to launch this third. As we wrap up the third year of our current strategic plan, we’ve accomplished so much together. We have now provided emergency travel support to almost 1,500 LGBTQI+ people. We have also provided support to thousands more through direct assistance and partnerships. We’ve responded to crisis situations in places like Chechnya, Uganda, Ukraine and Afghanistan.

It is critical to recognize that none of this would have been possible without your support. 

And while we are proud of our accomplishments, what really drives this work is the number of requests we receive. In 2022 alone, we expect to receive more than 10,000 requests for help. 10,000 people in precarious situations around the world, who are at risk only because of who they are and who they love.  

When we see that number – 10,000 – we can see that the need for our services around the world is enormous, and the resources required to provide that support are immense. 

We thought about all of this while finalizing our new strategic plan. This plan is ambitious; it sets us on a pathway to create more pathways for assistance, work with more governments, and help more people.

In finalizing this plan, we knew that we would need considerable support from our community of donors to be successful. 

Today, our efforts received a significant boost.

It is really rare to see an LGBTQI+ organization, particularly one that is focused on refugees, grow at the rate that we have. This has happened with an army of grassroots support, from the drag queens who were some of the first to rally around us, to high school students who organized bake sales in support of our work, to corporations like TD, who gave us our first grant of $50,000, the Upside Down Tree Foundation, who gave us a gift of 300,000 that allowed us to scale in 2016, and The Points Guy, who helped raise money and miles for our mission. Our work has only been possible because so many members of our community have stepped up. 

And today, I’m humbled and grateful to share that we have received a one-time gift of $5 million from MacKenzie Scott. This gift will allow us to enter our new strategic plan with much-needed organizational security, so that we can provide security for more people. This gift would not have been possible without the generosity of supporters and partners – who we will continue to rely on now, and into the future.

This gift is a recognition of the work we’ve done together in providing safety to LGBTQI+ people who are displaced. It also demonstrates that collectively, we can tackle the immense challenge of providing solutions for the record number of displaced individuals around the world today.

Every single gift that we receive is directly responsible for our work helping individuals reach safety. Every donation helps us in our mission to provide safety to at-risk LGBTQI+ people around the world. 

This gift, along with your continued support, will help Rainbow Railroad move forward, helping more people in the process.