2020 Fennie Community Fund
Legal-name: One in Long Beach, Inc.
Previous-name: The LGBTQ Center Long Beach
Address: 2017 E. 4th St.
City: Long Beach
Officer-title: Executive Director
Mission: The LGBTQ Center Long Beach advances equity for LGBTQ people through culturally responsive advocacy, education, programs and services.
ContactTitle: Youth and Family Services Manager
Grant-purpose: Funding will be used to enhance the Mentoring Youth Through Empowerment Program, which improves the quality of life for LGBTQ youth through affirmation, education, and resources.
What-is-project: The Mentoring Youth Through Empowerment (MYTE) Program at The LGBTQ Center Long Beach (The Center) improves the quality of life for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth ages 13-18 through people, programs, and partnerships. This is accomplished by providing robust and diversified programming including workshops, one-one-one mentoring, tutoring, and social activities which empower youth to become proud and successful members of their communities. MYTE provides a safe space for LGBTQ youth to find support and affirmation in order to improve self-esteem and wellness, to prevent homelessness, improve academic performance, reduce high-risk behavior, and provides advocacy opportunities for LGBTQ youth within the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD), Los Angeles County, and surrounding regions.. Additionally the program provides a safe, educational, and affirming environment for peer interaction, group activities, mentoring, and hands on life-skills education to promote health, wellness, and positive personal growth for attendees. The program emphasizes outreach and engagement with youth who are experiencing difficulties in school, are at-risk of dropping out of school or who have dropped out of school, and also at-risk youth who are capable but underperforming students with no plans for attending a higher learning institution once they have completed high school. MYTE serves 75-100 youth monthly and takes place Monday through Friday 3:00-7:00pm at The Center; during the current COVID-19 pandemic, MYTE services are accessible online using The Center’s RingCentral video communication platform and the program also works with the national organization CenterLink to host two weekly chat groups for LGBTQ youth as well.
MYTE specifically addresses the needs of LGBTQ youth who have greater risk for experiencing homelessness. A 2017 study from the University of Chicago found that LGBTQ youth have a 120% greater risk of experiencing homelessness than non-LGBTQ youth . Within the last year, more than 50 youth attending Center services have disclosed that they are homeless, have precarious housing, or are at risk of being homeless within the prior 60 days. Understanding the devastating consequences of housing insecurity, the MYTE program consistently offers educational workshops focusing on life skills development, including financial literacy, workforce readiness/job searching, and independent living. Further, MYTE participants have to access early, individualized case management in order for them to plan and navigate housing, health, school, and job resources to increase opportunities for successful life outcomes.
How-will-you-succeed: MYTE utilizes baseline and exit surveys to monitor program efficacy and positive life outcomes and will continue utilizing this outcome-oriented measurement tool throughout the project period. These surveys evaluate a number of factors upon initial visit to the program and again after six months of participation. Surveys capture factors related to mental health, suicidal ideation, grade point average, school attendance, interest in attending a higher learning institution after high school, and other social and behavioral risk factors and success measurements. Additionally, surveys capture basic demographics and poverty measurements. Previous surveys repeatedly note participation in MYTE increases mental wellness, reduces suicidal ideation, and increases likelihood for attending college post-graduation. Also tracked are those clients whom are connected to housing and employment resources. In 2019, 21 youth accessing case management were assisted in securing long-term or transitional housing. An additional 16 youth were assisted in securing short-term emergency housing.
All programming with the Youth and Family Services Department strives for sustainable operation through diversified funding. Funds from the Fennie Community Fund will be used to support the existing services within the MYTE program. Sustainable support is also provided by private foundations including the Munzer Family Foundation, Dwight Stuart Youth Fund, and Crail-Johnson Foundation to ensure long term support for youth.
Who-are-you: Initially formed as a living room discussion group in 1977, The Center has served on the frontlines providing vital health, wellness, social support services, and cultural programming to the greater Long Beach community for over 40 years. Significant achievements include operating one of the first HIV testing sites in Southern California, creating the largest HIV/AIDS case management organization in the City at the height of the epidemic, and supporting the founding of significant cultural events including AIDS Walk Long Beach and Long Beach Pride.
As the only comprehensive, holistic community center serving LGBTQ people in Long Beach, The Center supports a population who would otherwise be unable to access culturally affirming health, wellness, and cultural programs in the city. Current programming includes HIV/STI testing and treatment, comprehensive support for victims of domestic violence, legal services, trans services, senior services, youth and family services, career counseling, community library, more than 20 social and support groups, volunteer opportunities, and a robust mental health training and counseling program.
The Youth and Family Services Department is led by Joel Gemino, who has over 16 years’ experience working with diverse youth populations, and is supported by two frontline staff members who also provide direct services to children, teens, young adults, parents, and caregivers. The department was expanded in 2019 to include more robust direct services to parents, caregivers, and other family members of LGBTQ youth. This program includes regular workshops to help families better support and affirm their children, as well as expanded outreach to underserved families as a way to reduce risk of family conflict.
For the past seven years, the department has built and maintains a successful partnership with Long Beach Unified School District, for whom the department regularly provides curricular workshops to students and professional development trainings for staff. The department also regularly partners with Pacific Gateway’s youth workforce development team to provide pathways to employment. Noting the high risk of homelessness for LGBTQ youth, there is also a strong partnership with Casa Youth Shelter in Los Alamitos and the Good Seed in Long Beach, both organizations providing emergency shelter services to youth.