Bayard Rustin LGBTQ+ Resource Center provides clients with tools for success
Impact grant from the Gay Community Endowment Fund helps the center expand its facility, services
In 2022, the Akron AIDS Collaborative received a $7,500 impact grant to support the Bayard Rustin LGBTQ+ Resource Center. The center, which opened in January 2022, provides emergency housing referrals, job assistance, job readiness training, mental health services and more for LGBTQ+ people of color in Summit County. The following report was provided to the Gay Community Endowment Fund to show the success of the program, as well as the need for the center to continue serving an often overlooked part of the Greater Akron LGBTQ+ community.
As a result of funding from the Gay Community Endowment Fund, the Bayard Rustin LGBTQ+ Resource Center was able to provide the following services:
- Referrals or vouchers for permanent housing for 45 clients
- 45 free COVID tests
- 48 HIV tests
- Approximately 100 people were fed each week at free community dinners and by the on-site food pantry. Shelves and food storage bins were also purchased with funds provided by the grant.
- 25 clients were provided with mental health referrals to Life Solutions, where they were met by an on-call, designated social worker.
- Approximately 700 LGBTQ+ individuals received service during Family Black Pride event programming.
- Safety training for 12 sex workers who identify as trans women, including presentations by an Akron Domestic Court judge, Victim Assistance programming, and follow-up and public health presentations on Monkey Pox and STIs
Staff at the center noted the following changed behaviors and circumstances as a result of services:
- Of the 45 clients referred to housing assistance, 35 individuals are in transitional housing and 10 have permanent housing.
- Of the three individuals who received an HIV+ test result, 100% are currently in follow-up treatment.
- Participants in the weekly community meals received advocacy and information to better inform their decision making and life choices on topics like voting, Monkey Pox and STI screening.
- 100% of the 25 clients who received mental health referrals have remained in treatment.
- Trans women have identified the center as a safe haven, especially in times of crisis.
- Family Black Pride events helped to reduce stigma among the minority community.
The program will continue to expand, starting with the relocation to a larger facility that will be able to accommodate more clients. The expansion will include a drop-in area, free Wi-Fi stations, an LGBTQ+ library with videos and books, a café with healthy snacks, and well-maintained food and clothing pantries. The center will also collaborate with Equitas Health to provide on-site health screenings and mental health services. Partner agencies will be invited to rent space in the new facility, in order to better reach and serve clients.
There have been minor changes to the center's staff and volunteers. Currently, 90% of the center's staff reflect the population they serve and have experience serving hard-to-reach clients. Staff have received more training in HIV and STI education, HMIS client reporting, and transitional housing management skills. A PFLAG meeting coordinator, a licensed social worker, and a registered nurse work for the center on a volunteer basis.
The Bayard Rustin LGBTQ+ Resource Center received another impact grant from the Gay Community Endowment Fund in early 2023. This $10,000 grant will continue to support the program during its expansion.
A Success Story
The funds from this grant were instrumental in getting the Bayard Rustin LGBTQ+ Resource Center off the ground. We purchased business cards for staff, a dry-erase board for our community room, and printed brochures to use for community outreach. Funds were also used to build out our food and clothing pantries, including the purchase of shelving, plastic storage totes, hangers, refrigeration and freezer units. The grant from the Gay Community Endowment Fund has been used to further our mission of increasing advocacy efforts in the underserved African American LGBTQ+ community. We are pleased to report that we continue to grow and will be moving into a bigger facility in 2023. It is through the generous support of organizations like the Gay Community Endowment Fund of Akron Community Foundation that we can continue the work we do.