Our newest team member is an incredible young man from West Virginia named Alex. He has had a wide array of experiences in his thirty years, from passing the bar to working at one of the top talent agencies in Hollywood. He has been with us since the summer and integrated into tour life seamlessly, taking the lead in helping to plan our community events. As I write this, we’ve had more than 75 and Alex has been the spark that has created most of them.
He sits on the phone with nonprofits around the country and asks them, “what do you need?” and “how can we help?” and he hears about the tireless, often heartbreaking work that each of them do. He is professional, composed, and incredibly kind to each of them and I’m certain that they think more of our work because of their interaction with him.
A few months ago he texted me and asked, “Does it ever get easier to hear about all this need and not want to give everything you have to each person you talk to?” I texted, “No. Happily.”
Alex has donated significant amounts of his own money – quietly – to the organizations we have volunteered alongside and connected with many young people who I’m certain will be in his life for a long time to come.
I smiled when I received the text, so familiar with this mix of gratitude, pain, and helplessness. This feeling – the one that Alex recently discovered and the one that has fueled our team since we were founded almost six years ago – is the reason that I am writing to you today to ask you to participate in our year-end giving campaign which, for us, will be a different kind of fundraiser.
Instead of raising money to fund Born This Way Foundation, we’re truly putting our time, treasure, and talent to work to invest in organizations that have shown us their kinder and braver communities over the past five months.
We’ve served alongside dozens of nonprofits since we launched the Channel Kindness Tour on August 1, 2017 and, at each stop, we promised to amplify, support and invest in their work. We’ve donated toiletries, clothing, and other essential items; we’ve organized conversations already mental wellness with students and parents; we’ve collected thousands of thank you messages for first responders; and we’ve spent dozens of hours visiting, learning about, and volunteering with these incredible grassroots organizations.
We’ve done important work over the past five months, but we all feel the catalytic power of wanting to make the seemingly impossible, possible. Can you imagine a world in which the young people of Pridelines in Miami have the piano they have been wishing for or where YES in Omaha doesn’t have to worry about heating their shelter this winter?
We can imagine it and we invite you to help us build it today!
Born This Way Foundation will be donating all of the funds we raise from all of you between December 19th and January 19th to the nonprofit organizations – more than 30 so far! – who have agreed to participate in this experiment. Check out the list below to learn more about their urgent work and how your donation will help.
I hope Alex always sends me texts after emotional days and I hope that, with each new team member, we get closer to filling the unmet needs of young people, youth advocates, and community organizations.
Please check out the Channel Kindness Tour page for more on what we’ve done on tour, and join us in supporting these incredible nonprofits today!
Advocates for Youth: Funds provided to Advocates for Youth will help advance programs that uplift young people to create social and political change. Advocates for Youth provides youth activists from marginalized communities with networking opportunities, in person and virtual training, and technical assistance, creating a pipeline of diverse young leaders who champion program strategies that improve youth sexual health. From fighting gender-based violence on college campuses to increasing awareness about safe abortion services to expanding access to contraception to advocating against discriminatory immigration and anti-LGBTQ laws, Advocates’ youth leaders are leveraging their voices to make a difference in young people’s lives.
Aging Up: Aging UP was founded to empower youth from foster care to grow into happy, healthy, self-sufficient adults. Through one-to-one mentoring, positive recreation, and independent living skills education, that future can become a reality! Our first cohort of 10 mentoring matches has just begun. With an additional $35,000 we could double the number of youth served in 2018. The funds from this campaign will support recruiting, screening, and training 10 additional adult mentors who will be matched with 10 new youth. All participants will also benefit from recreational and educational group outings, which offer stigma-free environments.
ArtMix: At ArtMix, our tagline is “art redefining disability” because the arts allow people with disabilities to be defined by their ability, not just their disability. Our Community Arts Classes serve all ages and abilities at a cost of $160 per person per 8-week session. With more than 85% of our students at or below the poverty level, most can pay only $20 per session. You can help bridge the gap! A gift to ArtMix will help more people with disabilities have access to the transformative power of the arts. Thank you!
Beverly’s Birthdays: Beverly’s Birthdays spreads birthday cheer 365 days a year. Every day, through our five programs, we are able to recognize 50 birthdays. We are always in need of funding to help support on-going birthday presents, parties, and most importantly, the creation of special birthday memories.
Bo’s Place: Bo’s Place delivers a variety of grief support groups for families, which begin with pre-group potluck meals provided by the families. Funding will go toward pre-group meals being provided by Bo’s Place during this time of recovery for our community. $500 will help provide a pre-group meal for a grief support group at Bo’s Place. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Bo’s Place has been providing the meals, which were previously pot-luck style, where each family brought items to share. This effort removes the burden and stress of paying for and picking up meal items from the families who have not only experienced distress associated with the death of someone they love but also the collective community trauma of Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath.
CitySquare: Annually, CitySquare’s TRAC Program serves nearly 900 youth (age 16-24). Many identify as LGBTQ. Our youth are disproportionately at risk for unemployment, dropping out of school, homelessness, and involvement in the criminal justice system. TRAC serves as the one-stop opportunity hub for youth as they transition into adulthood. We offer crisis intervention, life skills training, workforce development, housing, and a drop-in resource center in Dallas/Fort Worth. We may lose federal funding for permanent supportive housing for homeless, disabled youth but remain committed to providing this program. We need community support now more than ever to keep our youth housed.
Common Threads: Funding for Common Threads would support our ability to deepen the impact we have on children, families, schools and community organizations in our current service markets. We would like to expand the depth of programming we are able to offer for each of our schools and community partners with hands-on cooking classes, grocery stores and professional development for teachers, school nurses, and social workers to build a school and community culture that values health and wellness and prioritizes nutrition as a means for empowering children to succeed in and outside of the classroom.
Cool Girls: Funding would go to provide opportunities for our girls in our Girls Club program. The Cool Girls Club is a weekly after-school program for girls in 2nd to 8th grade. Our programs provide academic support, life-skills development, physical fitness and nutrition programs and exposure to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). Students are taught by volunteers, staff and school personnel, on topics impacting girls like puberty, self-esteem and conflict resolution. The funding would provide girls with additional resources in Girls Club as well opportunities for field trips surrounding social, cultural and educational experiences.
Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre: The DEWC kitchen serves one of the busiest women’s centers in Canada, feeding 500 women and children daily at two locations. Funds raised would help provide women a day’s access to a hot meal, safe space, and support services, access to a daily hot meal, safe space, and support services, chicken dinner at our drop-in center, and a holiday meal for our constituents. Food plays an important role in engaging people in community-based programming and is a powerful tool for achieving social objectives, creating a bridge to accessing a wide range of vital services. This is our most important, yet underfunded, program.
Elizabeth Fry Society of Greater Vancouver: Through our Saturday Club, EFy gives children aged six to 16 with incarcerated parents a safe, fun place to spend a weekend day enjoying friends, nutritious food, and activities. Since Saturday Club kids come from extremely low-income families, it is offered below cost at $2 daily and free to those who cannot afford that. We also include bus tickets so affording transportation isn’t a barrier. Saturday Club is possible solely thanks to donations, which are gratefully accepted in any amount. A gift of $12 pays to send a child to Saturday Club for a day; $20 adds four new books to the library; $50 buys educational toys and art supplies, and $100 enables four children to enjoy a special outing normally out of reach, such as the science centre, aquarium or planetarium (includes transportation, snacks, and lunch).
Exploring The Arts: ETA’s after-school Apprenticeship Program places 11 th and 12 th graders as paid interns in one-to- one mentorship with professionals at arts and culture organizations. Students receive arts training, participate on office projects, attend shows, and form transformative relationships with college-educated adults working in their field of interest. Funding raised by the Born This Way Foundation on ETA’s behalf would support apprenticeship placements for our teens living in East and South L.A., enabling them to develop their artistry, hone new skills, and pursue their dreams of college and career.
Family Scholar House: This funding would go towards purchasing art supplies for our Art Therapy program, as well as materials for our workshops focused on self-esteem and confidence building. 100% of our families have experienced homelessness or unstable housing and 95% are survivors of domestic violence. Working to create healthy outlets and relationships is vital in helping our families heal on their journey to being fully self-sufficient.
Give Something Back Foundation: Give Back Scholars, who include foster youth and children of incarcerated parents, are always in need of consistent mentorship and academic support. Any funds contributed will go to college readiness programming and scholar case management of over 437 high school students across 7 states.
Green Our Planet: While GoP has built more than 120 school gardens, we have a waiting list of 70 schools hoping for their very own garden. Most of these schools are low-income, Title 1, where more than 40% of students receive free or reduced-price lunch. Therefore, it is difficult for these schools to raise money to get their garden program started. Any funds generously given by the Born This Way Foundation would go directly toward building a garden at a Title 1 school in Las Vegas. Funds would support the garden build and access to GoP’s full program, described here: http://www.greenourplanet.org/inert/schoolgardens/
Healing with Horses: Our at-risk youth client base has doubled in the last six months. These clients experience huge behavioral improvements at the ranch. We developed our Strides to Achieve Family Engagement (SAFE) program to engage their parents/caregivers so they experience the learning, witness the growth, and establish the consistency to maintain these improvements at home. It is our goal to offer this service to 30 families free of charge in the next year which will cost ~$100,000 to cover instructor, horse, and facility expenses.
Indiana Youth Group: The Indiana Youth Group homelessness initiative is a new program that encompasses a food pantry, clothes closet (SWAP), transportation assistance, expanded health care options at the center as well as opening a 14-bed homeless shelter for LGBTQ youth of central Indiana. This program not only benefits the youth hardest hit by homelessness but also all the youth that come to the center that could use any of these services. A donation of $100 we can house feed and provide access to healthcare for a youth for one day.
Khloe Kares: Even at the young age of 10 Khloe Thompson is extremely motivated to help other kids in less fortunate situations. For 2018, she plans to launch workshops and seminars to empower kids who are homeless or living in shelters. These workshops include coding, business plans, self-confidence, vision board experience and a full-on leadership conference for kids. Khloe Thompson has taken all the knowledge and information she has learned and put a workshop together to inspire kids who are homeless and in living shelters. Khloe believes if you empower kids at a young age they will be able to overcome anything!
These workshops will be quarterly, so in 2018 we will have 4 workshops. For each workshop, we need $7,000 for materials, breakfast/lunch, computer rentals, instructors for coding, entertainment (speaker), sound equipment, projector, games, a location or space.
Kids’ Food Basket: Through our Sack Supper program, nearly 7,500 students in West Michigan receive a nutritious evening meal each weeknight so they can succeed in school and in life. We are a 100% charitably funded organization and rely on the generosity of this community to ensure we can sustain these critical services. Every dollar gifted provides one child with a Sack Supper.
Los Angeles LGBT Center: Since 1969, the Los Angeles LGBT Center has been championing the needs of LGBT people in Los Angeles and beyond. We proudly provide more services for LGBT people than any other organization in the world with programs spanning four broad categories: Health, Social Services & Housing, Culture & Education, and Leadership & Advocacy. We are an unstoppable force in the fight against bigotry and the struggle to build a world where all LGBT people can be healthy, equal and complete members of society. The Center has always been committed to fighting for the most vulnerable within the diverse LGBT community.
Martha’s Table: One in three households with children in D.C. lacks access to healthy food. Your donation will support our food programs, which bring increased access to fresh fruits and vegetables to families throughout our nation’s capital. Just $7 can buy a bag of groceries–the equivalent of more than 15 healthy meals!
Mental Health America of the Heartland: Adolescents Never Suicide When Everyone Responds provides classroom sessions to 5,000 students/year, teaching warning signs of suicide and mental health disorders; encouraging reaching out for help; identifying an adult to whom they can turn; and providing instruction and resources to help a suicidal person. Results: over 95% of students would seek help for suicidal feelings, up from 60-70%. Our impact is critical–2/3 of students think that suicide is a problem in their school, 1/2 knew someone who had attempted or died by suicide, and 1 in 4 are confronted with issues relating to mental health and suicide.
Mile High Youth Corps: Support would allow Mile High Youth Corps to provide 200 youth ages 16-24 with comprehensive programs that integrate paid work experience on community service projects in areas of land conservation, energy & water conservation, construction of low-income housing and health and wellness programs. In addition to the work experience, youth learn skills around leadership development, career readiness, and education. Youth work in neighborhoods, public parks and open spaces throughout Metro Denver and the Southern Front Range of Colorado.
Minnesota Alliance With Youth: Support for the Minnesota Youth Council in the amount of $2,500 would allow us to convene all of the youth leaders from across the state of Minnesota at an in-person retreat, providing them with the opportunity to receive training, create strategies, and share skills and information to support their work in education and policy. The 36 Minnesota Youth Council members, middle and high schoolers from across Minnesota, work towards a state where no decision is made about them without them. MYC members serve on student-led Policy and Education committees to exercise their voice and spread their ideas across the state of Minnesota. Through their work at the state legislature, the MYC acts as a voice for youth to the legislature and the governor.
New American Pathways: New American Pathways’ Young Women’s Leadership Program, designed to engage high-school refugee girls, integrates individual mentoring, life skills workshops, and targeted academic and social-emotional support to help girls stay in school and to provide a foundation for college and career, financial self-sufficiency, and community leadership. Research shows that girls who receive targeted interventions are more likely to make healthy decisions, graduate from high school, pursue post-secondary education, and become economically successful adults. With $2,500 raised, we can put one young woman through our program for a year. To date, 100% of our YWLP graduates have gone on to college!
PrideLines: Miami’s LGBTQ Community Center is in dire need of a passenger van with removable seats to transport LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness or other crises and to provide confidential, mobile HIV/STI testing in Miami (which has the highest rate of new infections in the country). Our youth lounge needs a working A/C system, six new computers, and six rollaway beds. Additionally, youth who participate in our weekly Queer Arts program continue to express a desire for an in-house piano. Studies show that youth exposed to art programs not only get better grades in school, but also demonstrate increased self-confidence. Lastly, for those willing to make a monetary donation, we still need to raise $27,000 toward our 2018 Project SAFE budget to continue providing these lifesaving support services.
Resource Center: Resource Center’s most immediate need is funding to continue and expand our social programs that serve the LGBTQ community including Youth First, Gray Pride, GenderBrave and Women with Pride. The Center, through its family and community services, provides vital services and programs of interest that embrace, enhance and nurture the particular needs of our community.
Street Teens: Street Teens would use the funds to purchase much needed direct services for our clients such as bus passes, backpacks, clothing, food and hygiene items. Many of our youth come to us with nothing other than the clothing on their backs. We do everything we can to meet these needs and more but we cannot do it without your help.
The Kindness Campaign: Our greatest need is to support bringing the curriculum into schools. It costs $750 to support the curriculum in one school for one year, and $30,000 – $60,000 to support the curriculum in all elementary schools within a district. 100% of the funds raised in partnership with Born This Way Foundation will go directly to supporting the curriculum in schools.
The SPOT: Our greatest needs include those items that we cannot fund or fully fund through our grants-based programming. These include contraception, youth hygiene/clothing items (i.e., deodorant, bras, underwear), bus tickets, gift cards (for youth to purchase prescriptions, job interview clothing, food). Additionally, we are in need of a new building since we have outgrown our current space and need more space to expand our services. Funding will be needed to outfit an increased number of exam rooms with medical equipment, such as exam tables, and expand the capacity of the drop in activity space (i.e., more youth computers, meals/snacks, activity supplies).
United Way Bay Area: Funds will go towards supporting UWBA’s youth empowerment program, Mayor’s Youth Jobs+ which helps youth and young adults stay in school, identify their interests, and find a path to well-paying jobs and internships. From resume help and mock interviews to job training and placement, we work with local government, businesses, and nonprofits to empower struggling youth to build brighter futures.
Urban Roots: Every year, Urban Roots provides paid leadership development opportunities for Austin’s youth to work on our 3.5 acre urban farm and grow over 30,000 pounds of food to help nourish the community. This season celebrates Urban Roots’ 10th year, and with your help, we will provide $125,000 to over 70 youth interns in the form of paid stipends. Cultivating a safe space for youth to work for pay, develop as empowered leaders, and serve the community, your contribution creates an incredible impact lasting far beyond a youth’s time with Urban Roots.
Women of the World: Together, Women of the World and the Born This Way Foundation can make a meaningful impact on closing the gender wage gap in Utah by expanding our Job-to-Career Occupational Training. In Utah, women are paid 71 cents for every dollar paid to men. This gap is even larger for non-white women. Unfortunately, our female clients, as marginalized members of the community, experience some of the extreme aspects of the gender wage gap. Our measurable program outcomes will help move toward equal pay for equal work, and contribute to a sustainable, favorable shift in the gender wage gap. $50 secures the customized services to help one woman gain employment, improve to a career, or gain entry into college.
Youth Emergency Services: For 43 years, YES has been the sole organization in Omaha supporting homeless youth, helping to meet their immediate needs of shelter, food, and safety while teaching them essential life skills for a successful adulthood. With your help, $10,000 would allow us to expand our outreach program to provide services to our youth on Saturdays, $100,000 would allow us to double the number of beds at our Emergency Shelter and $1,000 would heat our shelter for two months. Funds would be used to sustain YES’ emergency shelter and longer-term housing.
Youth Futures: Youth Futures is bursting at the seams. Our shelter is frequently at capacity. We are frequently in the process of purchasing the building next door. This will allow us to open a new drop-in center and move our offices so we can open up more beds in our current shelter helping us to avoid having to turn away homeless youth. We are going to need funding along with many items to get the new center up and running in January as scheduled. We are in need of printers, computers, furniture, iPads, a large TV, a DVD player, game systems, and of course money to help offset the mortgage of our building. Thank you so much for all you are doing to help our youth!
Youth Mental Health Association: The Youth Mental Health Association (YMHA) aims to engage and develop youth so that they can be our leaders in innovating for a future with better mental health care for all. Destigmatisation of mental illness, mentorship, and network building are all within our scope to make the youth we engage leaders in community engagement, technology, art, and policy development. Together, let’s rethink mental illness.