Brave Space Alliance to raise salaries, calls on other orgs to follow suit

Brave Space Alliance (BSA), an LGBTQ center on the Chicago South Side, on Monday announced plans to increase the organization’s base salary to $43,000 for entry-level staff.

Brave Space Alliance (BSA), an LGBTQ center on the Chicago South Side, on Monday announced plans to increase the organization’s base salary to $43,000 for entry-level staff.

Brave Space CEO LaSaia Wade announced that the increase in salary will also come with an expansion in benefits, and an increase in flexibility for staff members. In addition to Gold and Platinum level medical plans, BSA also offers full-time staff unlimited time off, vision and dental insurance, a variety of unique benefits designed for the organization’s all-trans staff, and an Employee Assistance Fund for staff members who incur unexpected emergency expenses. The new plan also provides new life insurance coverage for BSA employees, and will allow staff members to convert their allocation from the Employee Assistance Fund into salary, so they can see more money in each check.

Wade said the new compensation plan was made possible by a reallocation of existing organizational resources, with an eye towards sustainability. “For the past five years, since BSA was founded, we’ve been going in so many different directions at the same time, especially once the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Brave Space has been so focused on meeting peoples’ needs “in the moment,” that we didn’t have the opportunity until now to plan for meeting those needs next year, or five years down the road,” she said. “BSA has benefited greatly from support by our funders, community partners, and thousands of community members who contribute every year. We owe it to all of our supporters, our staff, and first and foremost to our community to make sure that we focus on making BSA sustainable, so that we can continue the work of Black and trans liberation together.” 

Brave Space Alliance also is challenging other LGBTQ organizations in Chicago to make similar changes in their pay structures. “LGBTQ people, especially the Black and Brown trans people that make up the vast majority of our staff, face economic insecurity at a rate much, much higher than other populations,” says COO Stephanie Skora. “Accounting for salary, benefits, payroll taxes, and other expenses, it costs BSA a minimum of $60,000 to have someone on our team, but our staff are worth it, and we are consistent in figuring out ways to get it done.” Skora added, “In many ways, BSA is still a small, start-up organization. If we can make this happen, for our community and our staff, then other LGBTQ organizations who have been around for 20 or 30 years can get it done, too.” 

BSA says that the new plan will take effect in January 2023, to give the organization time to prepare and raise the funds necessary to support new and existing staff.

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