Welcome Our Inaugural Kindness in Community Fund Cohort!

August 03, 2022

By Maya Smith

Today I am thrilled to introduce you to the 22 incredible community organizations making up the first cohort of our $1,000,000 Kindness in Community Fund investment in youth mental health. These organizations are working tirelessly to increase access to mental health services, cultivate a culture of kindness, and meet the needs of the amazing young people they serve. 

The diversity of these organizations, the communities they serve, and the services they offer represents one of our most deeply held beliefs at Born This Way Foundation –  that we will not accomplish what we need to do alone. Supporting youth mental health takes all of us, our creativity, our collaboration, and our care. This work, supporting grassroots organizations with meaningful partnership and investment, is the work I am proudest of in ten years at Born This Way Foundation. Without further ado, I invite you to meet and celebrate:

ATLANTA

Hopebound
http://www.hopebound.com
Hopebound exists to ensure that every young person aged 10-18, especially those who hold marginalized identities, has access to therapy. We treat the youth of today while training the therapists of tomorrow to provide quality mental health care that is radically inclusive and norm-defying in its centering of BIPOC, queer, and low-income communities. Through innovation, imagination and a lens focused on intersectionality Hopebound aims to create space for every young person to show up as their whole selves along their journey to wellness, eradicate the barriers to access and revolutionize the world of mental health care as we know it to become how we need it. #carewithoutthecodeswitch

Hope Givers
http://www.hopegiversga.org
Hope Givers is an Emmy® Award winning organization that works to transform mental health, equity, and well-being for all. Founded by Tamlin Hall after his childhood friend died by suicide, Hope Givers produces content that explores the human condition in order to educate, empower, and inspire hope and resilience.

 

BOSTON

The Boston Alliance of LGBTQ+ Youth (BAGLY)
http://www.bagly.org
BAGLY was founded in 1980, by LGBTQIA youth who believed that an organization led by and for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth would be central to meeting the core physical, social, and developmental needs of LGBTQIA youth community in Massachusetts. Over 40 years later, BAGLY’s programming is still youth-led and adult-supported, with youth and young adult participation at all levels of the organization from general membership to BAGLY’s Board of Directors. Young people are encouraged to contribute to the conversations around current and future programming and services. Young people are at the center of the design, presentation and evaluation of the programs and services housed within BAGLY’s Community Center and through its statewide program, “”The AGLY Network.”” BAGLY is proud to serve nearly 6,000 LGBTQIA youth and young adults each year providing connections and developing youth power, attending to their health and wellness, and by shaping policies and practices that are supportive of a more beautiful, kinder, and happier world.

Breaktime
https://www.breaktime.org/
Breaktime is a Massachusetts-based nonprofit working to break the cycle of young adult homelessness. We believe it is time to break down barriers, break apart stigmas, and break into systems that hold back young adults experiencing housing insecurity. Through transitional employment and financial empowerment, Breaktime works to break down barriers to job security, financial security, and–ultimately–housing security for our Associates. Moreover, through awareness-building and policy advocacy on the local, state, and national level, Breaktime catalyzes systemic change–breaking apart stigmas and breaking into systems that unjustly harm high-potential young people.

 

CHICAGO

Midwest Asian Health Association (MARA)
https://maha-us.org
Midwest Asian Health Association (MAHA)’s mission is to reduce health disparities for medically underserved, low-income populations in the Midwest through providing culturally sensitive and linguistically appropriate services, which include community outreach education, screening and immunization, linkage to care, mental health services, and research and policy advocacy. To serve its mission, MAHA collaborates with community-based organizations, health care providers, academic institutions, public health departments, and volunteers.

Erika’s Lighthouse
https://www.erikaslighthouse.org/
Erika’s Lighthouse is a not-for-profit dedicated to educating and raising awareness about adolescent depression, encouraging good mental health and breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health issues. We work to promote inclusive school cultures around mental health by empowering educators, students and families through our Classroom Education, Teen Empowerment, Family Engagement and School Policy & Staff Development. Our vision is to make sure no young person feels alone in their depression, and that everyone in the school community has the knowledge and support they need to create lasting, positive culture change. 

 

DALLAS

Café Momentum
http://www.cafemomentum.org
Café Momentum’s mission is to transform young lives by equipping justice-involved youth with life skills, education, and employment opportunities to help them achieve their full potential. The Café Momentum internship breaks stereotypes, builds advocacy, and creates opportunities for justice-involved Dallas youth through paid internships set in a highly awarded casual fine-dining restaurant. Our ecosystem of support includes assistance with basic food and housing needs, no-cost healthcare, counseling with Café Momentum’s licensed psychologist, and re-enrollment in an accredited education program or Café Momentum’s on-site high school. 

Girls Embracing Mothers
http://www.girlsembracingmothers.org
Girls Embracing Mothers (GEM) is a nonprofit organization empowering young girls with mothers in prison to break the cycle of incarceration and to lead successful lives with vision and purpose. Using a two-generation approach to building family well-being, GEM works alongside mothers and daughters in their lives, together, by providing trauma-informed programming to facilitate healing, improve the child’s emotional response to incarceration, empower young girls to make positive life choices by developing a strong sense of self, and prepare justice-impacted women to be successful upon release.

 

HERSHEY

VOiCEup (Berks Fund of Berks County Community Foundation)
http://www.voiceupberks.org
VOiCEup Berks creates opportunities for people to volunteer, learn and lead in their communities. We strive to provide volunteers with a high-quality experience that fuels further action, and we envision a day when everyone is inspired and equipped to be the change they wish to see in the world. VOiCEup Berks is also an official affiliate of Youth Volunteer Corps (YVC). YVC programs develop youth through team-based volunteer experiences that build life and career skills while inspiring a lifetime commitment to service. Formed in 2015, our organization is the collaborative effort of a group of passionate individuals who are committed to the power of service. VOiCEup Berks is a fund of the Berks County Community Foundation.

Mighty Writers
http://mightywriters.org
Mighty Writers (MW) teaches kids, ages 3-17, to think clearly and write with clarity so they can achieve success at school, at work, and in life. We believe in the extraordinary power of Literary Arts education in opening doors to authentic life experiences for young people that later become pivotal in helping them make crucial life decisions. Our writing-integrated workshops symbolically represent the power of the pen and its kaleidoscopic ways to help children achieve their innate abilities: imagination, creativity, self-confidence, cultural awareness, and self-interpretation. All of our programs are SEL and Mindfulness-integrated and use a trauma-informed approach to meet all the needs of our Mighty youth-social, emotional, mental, physical, and academic. Through our literary art programs, Mighty Writers develops unique and enriching communities, champions the stories of diverse youth writers, and drives each student to reach their maximum potential. Clarity of thought can be unfathomable for some of the kids coming from some of the most violent and challenging neighborhoods.  Our mindfulness program grew out of a realization that if our mission was to teach kids to think clearly and write with clarity, we needed to focus on the mental health of our students.  Many of our Mighty youth frequently cope with trauma in their daily lives, causing physical, mental, and emotional harm that significantly impacts their ability to learn. Through all our programs, we utilize mindfulness to teach kids to be emotionally resilient, cultivate their inner strength, and foster their overall sense of well-being. These outcomes are indispensable skills students can use throughout their lives to regulate their emotional response to stressful situations and sustain better focus and concentration at school, at work, and in their relationships. We have a vision for our youth: by developing objectives that teach kids how to reduce stress, cope with stressors, gain personal control, and develop strong relationships through our Mindfulness and SEL-integrated, Trauma-informed Approach, we can improve social, emotional, and mental health outcomes and academic performance in the short term and alleviate poverty in the long-term. Through our core values of resilience, respect, and optimism, our young people develop their superpower–the power of the pen. Our objectives are for all Mighty students to become advanced thinkers and clear writers: college graduates who continue to reflect our Mighty values of kindness, integrity, and resilience.

 

HOUSTON

Young Audiences of Houston, Inc.
https://www.yahouston.org/
Now in its 66th year, Young Audiences of Houston implements over 3,037 programs each year with 176 talented artists that reach over 189,095 students and teachers annually at schools, libraries, community centers, and hospitals with limited programming for college and adult continuing education programs, Young Audiences of Houston primarily serves children Pre-K through the 12th grade within the boundaries of the 51 greater Houston area school districts, including counties of Harris, Montgomery, Liberty, Waller, Brazoria, Matagorda, Fort Bend, Jefferson, Polk, Galveston, Orange, Wharton, Jeff Davis, and Jackson.

We are at the forefront of arts education in Houston, pursuing equitable access to the arts through systems change efforts, sharing our expertise, and supporting programs and resources to our communities most in need across the Texas region. 

The Montrose Center
https://montrosecenter.org/

Founded in 1978, the Montrose Center is Houston’s LGBTQ community center. Our mission is to empower our community—primarily lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) individuals and their families—to live healthier, more fulfilling lives, by providing a wide array of critically needed programs such as counseling and therapy, substance use recovery, anti-violence services for victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, sexual assault, and hate crimes, specialized programs for senior, youth, and those living with HIV, education and outreach, and much more. We are the hub of Houston’s LGBTQ+ community.

 

LOS ANGELES

Miry’s List
https://miryslist.org/
Miry’s List is a movement of neighbors and friends dedicated to welcoming new arrival refugee families into our community through inspired crowdsourcing solutions.

Project Q
https://www.projectq.me/
ProjectQ’s mission is to provide a healthy and free-er future for queer youths of color experiencing the foster care to houselessness pipeline. ProjectQ provides free gender affirming haircuts, self-empowerment workshops, food & hygiene boxes, gender affirming clothing, chest binders, emergency housing, job programs, menstrual products, and so much more to LGBTQIA+ youth experiencing homelessness. Existing at extreme intersections of oppression in the US, the homeless LGBTQIA+ youths ProjectQ serves, especially transgender Black youth, is one of the most marginalized communities in our city and country. Through gender and identity affirming haircuts, and now through programming and resources available at our community center and salon, we work with LGBTQIA+ youths to overcome homelessness, hate and, discrimination to become amazing and fulfilled adults. While racism, homophobia, transphobia, and poverty are major systemic issues that persists, our organization works to combat these devastating forces every day and on a personal scale with these youths.

 

MIAMI

Guitars Over Guns Organization, Inc.
https://www.guitarsoverguns.org
Guitars Over Guns offers students from our most vulnerable communities a powerful combination of music education and mentorship with professional musicians to help them overcome hardship, find their voice and reach their potential as tomorrow’s leaders. Guitars Over Guns creates safe spaces for youth to express themselves through music and empowers them to make positive choices at school, at home and in their communities. Established in 2008, we have served more than 6,000 students across Miami, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

Alliance for LGBTQ Youth
https://all4lgbtqyouth.org/
The Alliance for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning Youth provides mental health and care coordination services, leadership development, and policy advocacy that centers the lives and experiences of LGBTQ youth in South Florida. We serve, nurture, and empower LGBTQ youth, their families, and their communities while advocating for the equal rights and equitable treatment of young people in affirmation of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.

 

NEW YORK CITY

Sam & Devorah Foundation for Transgender Youth
https://www.samdevorah.org/ 
Sam & Devorah Foundation supports trans and nonbinary youth by creating safe spaces where they can connect, be themselves and be empowered. Our teen weekend retreats, leadership retreats, day events and national e-mentoring program – Trans Mentor Project – celebrates their identities, builds on their strengths and increases their resilience and well-being.

Trans Mentor Project is an innovative national e-mentoring program that provides trans and nonbinary youth with supportive, identity-affirming trans and nonbinary mentors who empower them to reach their goals and thrive. In addition to one-to-one video mentoring meetups, mentees and mentors build community with their peers throughout the country by participating in youth-led interest groups, virtual hangouts, workshops and presentations.

Right To Be
http://www.righttobe.org
Right to Be (formerly Hollaback!)’s mission is to end harassment in all its forms by building the power of everyday people to create safe and welcoming environments for all. Our work focuses on turning the care we have for each other into simple, creative, effective action. We want to build a world that’s free of harassment and filled with humanity. Every day, Right to Be trains hundreds of people to respond to, intervene in and heal from harassment. We hold space for people experiencing harassment to share their stories for affirmation and support. And we prepare new leaders to create workplaces, schools and communities around the world that are filled with humanity.

 

SAN FRANCISCO 

Adolescent Counseling Services
http://www.acs-teens.org
Adolescent Counseling Services (ACS) empowers youth in our community to find their way through social-emotional support and by building safe, accepting communities. ACS exists to support the wellbeing of all teens, tweens, and young adults ages 10-25 in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. ACS’ network of skilled family therapists and professionally-led support groups are resources that youth and their families can rely on time and again for help with life’s challenges, be they big or small.

LYRIC
https://lyric.org/
LYRIC: Center for LGBTQQ+ Youth started in 1988 as merely a dance night and now has become the local leader in navigation for PrEP services and housing services for unsheltered LGBTQ+ youth, as well as the primer resource center for LGBTQQ+ youth in San Francisco and Greater Bay Area, currently counting more than 3,000 young people as clients.

 

WASHINGTON D.C. 

Our Minds Matter
https://ourmindsmatter.org/
Our Minds Matter (formerly the Josh Anderson Foundation) is a student-led movement to change school culture around mental health. Since 2012, OMM has been working toward the day when no teen dies by suicide. Currently, OMM operates in 127 schools nationwide, with a strong foothold in the Washington, DC metro area. The OMM program is an innovative and grassroots effort that engages youth and teens directly in taking action to prevent suicide. Led by students and overseen by staff sponsors at each middle school and high school site, OMM clubs provide opportunities for meaningful connection among students and use evidence-based strategies for suicide prevention—including teaching adolescents how to cope with distress and where to seek out appropriate mental health resources.

Civic Suds
http://www.civicsuds.org
Civic Suds provides more convenient access to programming and support services by operating programming within laundromats and similar spaces open to the public.