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Vote for Gay Groups to Win One Million

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GLSEN, the Trevor Project, and the Matthew Shepard Foundation are among 100 charities competing to win $1 million in the Chase Community Giving program on Facebook. Cast your votes starting tomorrow.

The Chase Community Giving program, sponsored by JPMorgan Chase, seeks to use the power of social networking to give individuals and communities a voice in corporate philanthropy. More than a million Facebook users already have registered as fans and cast votes in round 1, where 500,000 small and local charities competed to reach the top 100 and receive $25,000 each.

Beginning on Friday, January 15, the top 100 vote-getters will move to round 2, which offers a $1 million prize for the winning charity and $100,000 each for five runners-up. The 100 finalists hail from 31 states and support an array of causes, including LGBT rights, alleviating homelessness, environmental protection, and aid to foreign countries in need.

In order to attract votes, each of the 100 organizations has created a profile page that details the Big Idea of what it would do with $1 million. Here's what the LGBT finalists offer:

- GLSEN proposes using the money to create safer spaces at American schools in order to curb the epidemic of anti-LGBT bullying.

- The Matthew Shepard Foundation, founded by Dennis and Judy Shepard in memory of their slain gay son, wants to use the contribution to expand its educational outreach programs to combat hate crimes and bias.

- The Trevor Project says that it would apply the contribution to training for a corps of youth volunteers to help prevent suicide among LGBT teens, who are more vulnerable than straight peers.

Every Facebook fan of the program may cast five votes beginning Friday. Throughout round 2, fans will be able to check in regularly to see the progress of the finalists.

Vote for GLSEN, the Trevor Project, and the Matthew Shepard Foundation starting tomorrow.

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Julie Bolcer