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Gay Community Endowment Fund announces 2020 grants

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On March 6, the Gay Community Endowment Fund of Akron Community Foundation announced 14 grants totaling $49,000 to programs that enhance the quality of life of Greater Akron’s LGBTQ+ community.

For the second consecutive year, the fund awarded impact grants to programs that create safer environments for LGBTQ+ youth, combat phobias of the LGBTQ+ community, and support mental health and suicide prevention programs for LGBTQ+ people.

Impact grants totaling $28,000 were awarded to three nonprofit organizations, including Akron Children’s Hospital, which received a $10,000 grant to expand social work services at its new Center for Gender Affirming Medicine. The center, which launched in June 2019, provides comprehensive care for transgender youth, including hormone therapy, mental health services, and preventative treatment.

Within the first six months of opening its doors, the center treated more than 100 patients through a multidisciplinary team of gender-affirming medical providers. Since then, the need for services has continued to grow, and the center anticipates it will double its patient caseload in 2020.

"The demand of the program has outpaced original expectations," said Crystal Cole, M.D., medical director of the Center for Gender Affirming Medicine. "And while all medical services are billable, the most critical resource to these youth is our social worker, whose services are not billable."

This year’s grant from the Gay Community Endowment Fund will allow the center to increase the hours of its social worker and expand its services to more patients and families.

"With LGBTQ+ teens six times more likely to experience symptoms of depression than their cis and heterosexual counterparts, it is extremely important to provide affirming and nonjudgmental care,” Cole said. “Our services go far beyond medical care."

In addition, the Gay Community Endowment Fund awarded $8,000 to support the creation of a traveling art installation by Akron photographer Shane Wynn. The installation is part of a new series titled "40%," which highlights the alarming percentage of homeless youth who identify as LGBTQ+. By depicting the daily realities of homeless LGBTQ+ youth, Wynn hopes to spark a conversation that leads to change on both a personal and policy level.   

"My intention is to influence hearts and minds, and in the best case scenario, influence policies that help create a safety network for LGBTQ+ youth," Wynn said.

The project builds on the recent success of TransAkron, a photojournalism series featuring the stories of local trans, nonbinary and gender-nonconforming people. The series, which was created by Wynn and writer H.L. Comeriato, was also supported by the Gay Community Endowment Fund.

"By building on the momentum of the audience we created through TransAkron, '40%' has the potential to impact real lives," Wynn said.

The following is a full list of organizations receiving grants this year:

Akron Children’s Hospital, to support social work services at the hospital’s new Center for Gender Affirming Medicine, which offers comprehensive care for transgender youth, $10,000

Akron Civic Theatre, to support the Millennial Theatre Project, which engages underrepresented young adults in theater productions, including those in the LGBTQ+ community, $1,000

CANAPI, to support the 2020 Akron Pride Festival, $3,000

CANAPI, to support outreach to LGBTQ+ youth and to connect them to resources for housing, transportation, health services and job preparation, $3,000

GLSEN, to support a conference for LGBTQ+ youth and allies who participate in their school's Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) club, $1,500

Greater Akron Amenities, to support the Proud2Play Tournament, which celebrates diversity, equity and inclusion through sports, $1,000

Kent State University Foundation, to support the QUEST mentorship program, which pairs LGBTQ+ students with a supportive adult role model, $3,000

OutSupport, for community outreach, education and advocacy efforts that promote the health and equality of LGBTQ+ people in Medina and surrounding communities, $2,000

PFLAG Akron, for community outreach programs, including self-defense classes for LGBTQ+ youth and speaking engagements at schools, churches and businesses, $2,000

Plexus Education Foundation, to support networking events and educational programs for the LGBTQ+ business community and allies, $2,000

Rape Crisis Center, to support outreach to LGBTQ+ survivors of domestic or sexual violence, $1,500

Summa Health, to support the inaugural LGBTQ+ Healthcare Summit, which will highlight health disparities specific to the LGBTQ+ community and train local physicians to provide inclusive care for their patients, $10,000

Summit Artspace, to create a traveling art installation by Shane Wynn that shines a light on the alarming rate of LGBTQ+ youth homelessness, $8,000

Weathervane Community Playhouse, to support the production of Kinky Boots, $1,000

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