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for December 8, 2022

We are excited to announce our 5th 2022 Fall Grant Recipient!

Thanks to our generous Legacy Giving Circle donor community, Affirming Youth Ministries is receiving a $26,000 grant towards their Youth and Volunteer Program Development!

Initiative Description: Affirming Youth Ministries (AYM) offers empowering support to LGBTQIA+ youth and young adults through weekly gatherings, virtual community, and resources. As many as 1.8 million queer youth in the U.S. seriously consider suicide each year (The Trevor Project), and religiosity has been associated with significantly higher rates of suicide attempts among queer youth (American Journal of Preventive Medicine). AYM centers affirming practices that enable youth to explore faith and spirituality in a safe space where the fullness of their worth and humanity is recognized and celebrated.

Our project goal focuses on two areas:

  1. Building programming to support LGBTQIA+ youth in developing resiliency and emotional maturity, as well as advocacy and leadership skills.
  2. Establishing a training program designed to strengthen the anti-racist practices, crisis prevention skills and advocacy skills of volunteers who interact with the LGBTQIA+ youth we serve.

Initiative Impact: Youth Programming anticipated impact and outcomes:

* Developing Resiliency and Emotional Maturity – AYM serves LGBTQIA+ youth, a group of individuals who face a heartbreaking risk of experiencing mental health crises. One of the goals of our initiative is to design programming that more effectively supports these youth in building the emotional maturity and resiliency necessary to navigate the intense challenges they encounter on a daily basis. We aim to encourage self-discovery and a sense of belonging for youth who far too often feel persecuted and alone.

* Encouraging Advocacy and Leadership Skills – LGBTQIA+ youth have a great deal of wisdom to offer to their peers and their communities. AYM encourages these youth to discover their voices and realize their power, as individuals and as a collective. One goal of our initiative is to create programming that will better equip and empower LGBTIA+ youth to take a role in shaping the affirming and accepting the kind of world they deserve to live in. This programming will encourage them to set goals, advocate for themselves and others, and recognize their own potential as leaders.

Volunteer Training Program anticipated impact and outcomes:

* Strengthening Volunteers’ Anti-Racist Practices, Crisis Prevention Skills and Advocacy Skills – We encourage our volunteers to actively cultivate robust anti-racist practices, both in their own lives and on behalf of our organization, and we aspire to create a structured volunteer training program to make those practices more effective. The youth we serve face multiple intersections of racial, gender and sexual identity, and research shows that even one of these identity challenges increases the likelihood of a mental health crisis. With the very lives of many of LGBTQIA+ youth at risk, our goal is to better prepare our volunteers to help them develop the crisis management and mitigation skills they need to stay mentally and physical and spiritually healthy and flourishing.

According to the Trevor Project, LGBTQIA+ youth who have access to spaces that affirm their sexual orientation and gender identity report 35% lower rates of attempting suicide (https://www.thetrevorproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/LGBTQ-Affirming-Spaces_-December-2020.pdf). This work literally saves lives.

Initiative Sustainability: The bulk of the cost of AYM’s Youth Programming and Volunteer Training project will be in the initial development and establishment of the programs. The requested Legacy Collective grant will enable us to develop and fund the programs for the first calendar year. Ongoing operation of the programs and training will be primarily conducted by our volunteer staff, so we anticipate funding any incidental expenses in subsequent years through our regular operating budget, with the option of initiating a targeted fundraising campaign if additional funds are needed to update or further expand the programs.