Ben Cohen makes it rain for LGBT charities

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Retired rugby cuddle bear Ben Cohen isn't shy about sharing. All of him and his wallet. So it's no surprise that his Atlanta-based foundation that combats bullying is celebrating doling out its 50th grant.

The non-profit on Monday announced the awarding of its 50th grant, coinciding with its three-year anniversary.

“We are absolutely thrilled to have reached this important milestone so quickly in our history,” said Ben Cohen, MBE, founder and chairman of the Foundation. “Our mission is to raise awareness of the long-term, damaging effects of bullying, and to fund those doing real-world work to stop it. I feel like we are making real progress, thanks to those who support our work.”

We've been there since the beginning, watching as Cohen hit Atlanta and paraded across the country to promote his StandUp Foundation. From Atlanta Pride (photo) to shaving his head, running the Drunken Sailor and throwing out the first pitch for the Braves, Cohen will really do most anything to combat bullying.

The foundation has give out $358,000 in grants to scores of organizations, from Campus Pride to the Hartford Gay & Lesbian Health Collective and No Bully. Georgia Equality's Campaign for Safe Schools has received $2,500.

The foundation's grants so far amount to less than half of the $890,000 it's raised. But Executive Director Alison Doerfler says that with startup costs now behind it, the foundation will give out even more in grants.

“Our early days required a good deal of investment to build the structures and processes of an international Foundation. Now, we are able to give more of every dollar, which is our key metric of success. With startup expenses behind us, the Foundation operates very efficiently today, and 100 percent of our staff are volunteers,” said Alison Doerfler, executive director of the Foundation.

Patrick Davis, CEO of StartUp brand manager Ben Cohen Worldwide, says he urges more LGBT organizations in Georgia to apply for grants to support their anti-bullying efforts. The deadline is June 30.

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