by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
On December 1, Liberty Hill Foundation announced $500,000 in grants to LGBTQ youth in an effort to end violence against LGBTQ communities and advance safety, self-determination, and justice for LGBTQ youth. The five grants will be made through the Queer Youth Fund, one of Liberty Hill's donor advised funds.
Five community organizations from around the country will each receive $100,000 multi-year grants, according to officials. In an era in which violence against LGBTQ communities is on the rise, the Queer Youth Fund grants represent a significant effort to turn the tide.
The Queer Youth Fund was established in 2002 and has been housed since 2003 at Liberty Hill, one of the nation's leading social justice foundations. It gives substantial multi-year grants to small youth-led organizations that promote equality and justice for LGBTQ individuals under 24. So far, more than $3.5 million has been awarded to groups in 21 states and Canada. Each grant is $100,000 and paid out over three to five years.
The 2011 Queer Youth Fund grantees are Brown Boi Project (Oakland, CA); Colorado Anti-Violence Program (Denver, CO); Make the Road New York (Brooklyn, NY); The Theatre Offensive (Cambridge, MA); and Three Wings (Seattle, WA).
'Each year, I am awed by the extraordinary courage and abilities of the young people in organizations awarded Queer Youth Fund grants,' co-founder Weston Milliken said. 'These young leaders are helping to advance full equality for all Americans and it is an honor to support their passion for social justice work.'
Three Wings (TW) is a non-profit created by Queer Youth Space to create a permanent, physical space for Queer youth on Capitol Hill.
TW envisions a local community where all people are treated equal regardless of their sexuality and gender and where young people are viewed as wise and capable leaders of that movement.
TW seeks to open a safe, inclusive, all-ages cultural arts venue and workspace in Seattle's Capitol Hill that fosters and supports Seattle's Queer youth community. Recognizing a cultural shift among young people to more fluid identities, TW will be the nation's first organization to embrace an expansive view of Queer that involves all people who seek to eliminate heterosexism. Governed by a youth-led Board of Directors and staff, TW integrates wellness and cultural arts as key aspects of organizational and community health. TW is a new model in youth development for Seattle that will help improve current programs and services for young people and the LGBT community.
In addressing the educational and health disparities of Queer youth, TW moves beyond a dedicated safe space to propose a liberation space where systems of oppression are actively addressed within a dedicated venue and community-wide. TW ambitiously builds a competent community and views young people as wise and capable leaders of this effort.
The TW space will be characterized by three wings of operation: cultural activism, wellness services, and community-based research and education.
WING 1 - Cultural Activism Lab: responds to current youth demands and local culture by offering a Queer venue replete with a café, arts and cultural gallery, performance/class space, and community organizing workrooms. The lab will serve as the face of TW and the primary function of its physical space where youth can utilize the open format to make media, socialize, and get engaged with local activism.
WING 2 - Wellness Collaborative: The wellness collaborative will address disparities in the quality of life of queer people, and other compounding factors, through holistic counseling, coaching and goal-attainment partnerships, peer mediation, health/legal information and referral, academic support, classes/groups aimed at personal healing, and community wellness.
WING 3 - Research & Education Institute: a think tank that builds leadership and community change through an intergenerational coalition of community researchers, advocates, and educators. The institute will produce creative media and web resources, undertake community-directed research partnerships, and provide technical assistance and consultation to schools and agencies.
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