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December 20, 2023 Update on Rainbow's Financial Crisis

Update on Rainbow's Financial Crisis


Eleven weeks ago, I started my position as Rainbow Community Center’s Interim Executive Director. At the time, Rainbow was on the path toward financial bankruptcy and closure of the center was imminent. For several years, revenue forecasts were overly optimistic, and Rainbow relied on its investment account to offset regular payroll shortfalls, which ultimately depleted Rainbow’s rainy-day fund. The main source of the financial shortfalls was the over-staffing of positions not covered by grant funding. In addition, Rainbow was months behind on rent, late on many essential bills, and owed back taxes, all of which exacerbated Rainbow’s financial crisis because of late fees and compounded interests. The possibility of not being able to make payroll reached a critical point when Rainbow’s checking account had a balance of roughly $20K in early October (which was around the time I was appointed Interim ED). Unfortunately, to avoid imminent closure, extreme austerity measures had to be undertaken immediately. Rainbow management, in coordination with the Rainbow Board and union, implemented several difficult actions, that included laying off six unfunded employees, canceling the hiring of a Development Director, and deciding to not backfill the resignation of the Director of Training and Education (a partially funded position).


In the current fiscal year (July 2023 through June 2024, or “FY24”), Rainbow budgeted approximately $2.20M while guaranteed grant revenue is only $1.43M. Assuming an additional $120K of fundraising is realized (the highest known historical amount), an additional $650K of estimated cost-cutting would have been necessary to close the budget gap. With the anticipated salary savings from layoffs and hour reductions over the next 6 months (estimated to be approximately $370K in savings), this budget gap has been reduced to approximately $280K. A freeze on all “non-essential spending” and professionalization benefits resulted in further cost savings. Thus with all recent cost-cutting measures in place, our FY24 budget deficit has been reduced by roughly 48%, and Rainbow continues to search for more ways to save where possible. By June 30, 2025, Rainbow needs to fundraise $340K to balance this year’s budget and not carry over debt. If this goal is realized, Rainbow’s budget will likely be balanced in FY25. 


We wish to thank The Phluid Phoundation, The Williams & Hart Rainbow Fund of Horizons Foundation, AssetMark Charity & Giving Fund, Lawrence R. Kolka, Neil McChesany and Ella Gower Family Trust, Schwab Charitable, Joyce Ligon, Leo Fontana Family Foundation, East Bay Community Foundation/Khaund Family Fund, and many more generous supporters who donated to Save Rainbow thus far. As we embark on Christmas and the New Year, please consider contributing to Save Rainbow. Our goal is to raise $300,000 by the end of June 30, 2024. Your support will help us continue our work serving and saving LGBTQQIA+ lives.


Lastly, I wish to acknowledge the sacrifices of Rainbow’s staff. The last three months have been stressful and an extreme cause of anxiety. We look forward to the New Year 2024, rejuvenating and reinvigorating our talented team, and moving towards a balanced budget and replenishing our reserves. 


Summing up: Rainbow is back on track to financial stability! We however still need your help to Save Rainbow. We are here to stay and our doors will remain open to serve and save LGBTQQIA+ lives in Contra Costa County and beyond.


We humbly thank you for your generous support.


Happy Holidays and Happy New Year 2024,


Jonathan Lee, PhD

Interim Executive Director

Help Us Save Rainbow
November 13, 2023


Since 1995, Rainbow Community Center of Contra Costa County (Rainbow) has been ardently serving the LGBTQIA+ communities. At a time when HIV-positive people and people with AIDS were denied medical care, Rainbow advocated for them and debunked unfounded unscientific fears about transmission. Since this time Rainbow has continued to be a safe space for LGBTQIA+ people of all ages and a place for the community to collectively address central issues of alienation, a byproduct of living in secret and in fear. Rainbow has championed efforts for LGBTQIA+ equity and equality and continues to advocate for underserved and underprivileged members of our communities by pivoting our services to low-income, Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC), and Trans-members of Contra Costa County. Similar to many non-profits and businesses, the economic difficulties of the post-global Covid pandemic are hitting Rainbow very hard. We share the in struggle with American families to earn more and keep up with daily and monthly bills. We share in the struggle with American families who cannot keep up with the rising costs of goods and services due to inflation. These economic hardships are made more acute for Rainbow because there is limited public funding for non-profits that serve the LGBTQIA+ communities, due to shrinking local, state, and federal resources. As a frontline LGBTQIA+ non-profit, we also compete with national/global LGBTQIA+ organizations for limited corporate funding and individual contributive donors.

On October 9, 2023, I stepped into my role as Interim Executive Director of Rainbow Community Center, mindful of our economic challenges, yet focused on stabilizing Rainbow so we can continue providing essential services to our community and to continue saving LGBTQIA+ lives. Like many American families, we are struggling to increase revenue sufficiently to cover our costs, and are unfortunately having to reduce and eliminate some of our personnel and services to make ends meet. Sadly, at present course, Rainbow’s future is uncertain, and without bold help from our community, could drastically downsize or possibly even close our doors.  To prevent this, we humbly ask our communities and allies to elevate us by donating to our Save Rainbow campaign. Your donations will help us continue our essential work saving LGBTQIA+ lives—such as the teens and Trans-youth who find community and solace in our support groups; or people who attend the social groups for adults and seniors who struggle with social isolation; or people who attend the support groups for BIPOC LGBTQIA+ women and men; or the clients we serve through our mental health clinical program. Rainbow saves lives through our HIV and STI prevention and testing programs and provides referrals for services for those who test positive. Rainbow saves the lives of LGBTQIA+ youth by offering emergency housing for those who dared to come out of the closet and share who they are, only to find themselves without housing and on the streets.

The primary source of Rainbow’s funding is through public grants, but they are limited and insufficient to cover operational costs because they are restricted to direct program services. Please, will you join us to help Save Rainbow? Donate $5, $10, $25, $50, $100, or $1000 or more HERE, and share our fundraising campaign with your networks. If you can offer a matching grant, please contact us at You can also be our champion by making your donation a monthly recurring one.

With humbled hearts and deep gratitude for your support and generosity, we at Rainbow thank you for your fierce love and commitment to the work we do in the service of LGBTQIA+ communities of Contra Costa County.

Jonathan Lee, Ph.D.
Interim Executive Director
Rainbow Community Center of Contra Costa County


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