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Ali Forney Center helps homeless LGBTQ youth find stability

17 Jan

Ali Forney CenterBy Stephanie Jackson-Ali, LMSW

Foundation Beyond Belief is proud to announce this quarter’s Human Rights beneficiary, Ali Forney Center, the first beneficiary selected through our new Request for Proposal system. (You can learn more about our RFP process here.) The RFP process allows us to gather more specific information from an organization, including a specific area or program that our grant would fund. This quarter, donations from FBB members will support Ali Forney Center’s LEAP program.

The Ali Forney Center, based in New York City, helps homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth be safe and independent as they move from adolescence to adulthood. The center is named after Ali Forney, a gay and transgender homeless youth killed in 1997 at the age of 22 after living on the streets for nearly 10 years. Ali had been an advocate for other homeless youth before his death. His killer was never found.

The Ali Forney Center has three major programs, with supportive, wrap-around services that accompany those programs. The Day Center serves as intake and offers street outreach, case management, HIV testing, medical care, employment assistance, and referrals to their other larger programs: transitional and emergency housing.

Also encompassed in this center are psychiatric supportive services and workshops on issues that affect the youth, including family counseling to encourage rehabilitation and reunification where possible.

The Center’s housing programs put a great deal of focus on preparing residents to live independently after their time in the program is over. Residents are assisted in finding and maintaining employment as well as pursuing education. Emergency housing is available for up to six months while residents seek permanent housing, and transitional housing is available for up to two years.

Ali Forney Center has a number of worthy projects to support, but their grant from FBB will be dedicated to their Learning, Employment, Advancement, and Placement (LEAP) program. This program assists homeless youth with career and educational advancement. Funding from FBB will assist 175 clients with needs such as professional attire for interviews, college application fees and expenses, and credentialing expenses.

The Ali Forney Center not only helps LGBT youth escape homelessness, but empowers them with skills to stay off the streets permanently. They also have created a model that can be replicated in cities across the country working to support homeless youth. For this, FBB is proud to make Ali Forney Center our first RFP grant recipient and our current Human Rights beneficiary.

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