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The Matthew Shepard Foundation empowers individuals to embrace human dignity and diversity through outreach, advocacy and resources, effecting positive change.
The Matthew Shepard Foundation is a national non-profit 501c3 organization founded in December of 1998 by Judy and Dennis Shepard in memory of their 21-year old son, Matthew, who was the murder victim of an anti-Gay hate crime. The charity honors the values, and funds the causes, that were important to Matthew. This includes donations and grants to support educational projects and activities.
- Judy Shepard, executive director of the foundation, raises awareness of gay and lesbian issues and endorses hate crime prevention and legislation, through her annual series of speaking engagements for high school, college and community organizations.
- The Foundation supports schools and theatre companies producing "The Laramie Project," a spoken-word play that tells Matt’s story and the community’s reaction to his murder. The Foundation provides educational and technical support for putting on the play, and where it can, provides on-the-ground assistance to augment the productions with community forums.
- The Foundation provides online resources and a blogging platform for youth who are struggling to deal with coming out, family acceptance, bullying and harassment, or faith issues. Through a website called Matthew’s Place , the Foundation is particularly focused on helping youth who live in rural areas who have few in-person resources to which they can turn. Every week, we hear back from teenagers and young adults using our resources who tell us that we’ve given them the inspiration and the tools to lead healthy, productive lives.
- The Foundation is proud to work with the Department of Justice and FBI on educational programs for state and local law enforcement officials about recognizing and prosecuting suspected hate crimes.
- The Foundation advocates for full equality for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans. Because of its unique voice, the Foundation is a valuable ally in the ongoing fight to pass public policies that will ensure all LGBT Americans have their full and complete civil rights.