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GCEF celebrates $500,000 grant milestone

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One of the fund's first impact grants was awarded to CANAPI to support housing and mentoring programs for LGBTQ+ youth.

The Gay Community Endowment Fund of Akron Community Foundation is celebrating more than half a million dollars in grants to programs that positively impact the local LGBTQ+ community. On Friday, the fund awarded 16 grants totaling $55,050 to area nonprofit organizations, bringing its cumulative grantmaking total to nearly $530,000 since it was established in 2001.

This latest round of grants included the fund's first 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 $30,000 were awarded to four nonprofit organizations, including CANAPI, which received a $10,000 grant to address the epidemic of LGBTQ+ youth homelessness in Greater Akron. Locally, it is estimated that more than 40 percent of all homeless youth identify as LGBTQ+, an alarming statistic given that LGBTQ+ youth account for only 7 percent of the general population, said Rebecca Callahan, executive director of CANAPI.

"Queer and gender-nonconforming young people experience housing instability and homelessness at disproportionately high rates compared to their straight, cisgender peers," Callahan said. "Homeless LGBTQ+ youth are more likely to struggle with addiction, engage in risky sexual behaviors, and experience sexual assault. And once homeless, an LGBTQ+ young person's likelihood of employment attainment plummets."

The impact grant will allow CANAPI to meet the immediate housing needs of LGBTQ+ young adults by providing rent and security deposit assistance, public transportation assistance, and start-up kits with essential household items. It will also foster the long-term skills and relationships LGBTQ+ youth need to achieve sustainable housing and employment by providing a mentoring program that pairs these young adults with caring community leaders and young professionals.

"CANAPI has a long history of advocating for the LGBTQ+ community, including a positive track record for providing housing services to those in need," said Phil Montgomery, Gay Community Endowment Fund Advisory Board chair. "We're proud to award one of our first impact grants to this critical project, which will create safer living conditions for LGBTQ+ youth in our community."

Other grants awarded by the Gay Community Endowment Fund this year will support specialized health care services for LGBTQ+ patients, create safer school environments for LGBTQ+ students, and support arts programming and internships for LGBTQ+ young adults, among other initiatives.

The following is a full list of organizations receiving grants:

Akron Children's Hospital, to support the hospital's new Center for Gender Affirming Medicine, which offers comprehensive care for transgender youth, including gender-affirming hormone therapy, mental health care, and social work services, $5,000

Akron Civic Theatre, to support the Millennial Theatre Project, which engages underrepresented young adults in theater productions, including those in the LGBTQ+ community, $2,500

Battered Women's Shelter, to support outreach to LGBTQ+ survivors of domestic or sexual violence, $2,000

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

CANAPI, to provide housing support and mentoring programs for LGBTQ+ youth, who are more likely to experience homelessness than their straight, cisgender peers, $10,000

Center for Applied Theatre and Active Culture, to create safer school environments for LGBTQ+ youth through in-school performances and workshops that address bullying, $3,000

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

META Center Inc., to provide support groups, outreach and affirming activities for transgender and gender-nonconforming youth in Northeast Ohio, $1,000

National Center for Choreography, to support arts internships for LGBTQ+ young adults, $1,000

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 and events, including speaking engagements at schools, churches and businesses, $1,000

Plexus Education Foundation, to support networking events and educational programs for LGBTQ+ business professionals and entrepreneurs, $1,000

Portage Path Behavioral Health, to remove barriers and increase the quality of care for LGBTQ+ people seeking mental health and substance use treatment, $10,000

Summa Health, to support the launch of the Summa Health Pride Clinic, which will provide specialized health care services for LGBTQ+ patients in Greater Akron, $5,000

TransAction, to support a summer camp for transgender and gender-nonconforming youth, $2,550

VANTAGE Aging, to provide more inclusive services for aging adults by educating staff members about the unique challenges and needs of LGBTQ+ seniors, $3,000

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