ORLANDO, Fla. – Thursday, September 27, 2012 – The Bryce L. West Foundation announced today that it has pledged $500,000 over the next eight years to the Zebra Foundation for Youth, Inc.
The Zebra Foundation for Youth’s mission is to foster hope, dignity and self-respect in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (“LGBTQ”) youth and to provide them the opportunity to grow up in a safe, healthy and supportive environment. Donations to the Zebra Foundation help to create and sustain programs that directly support LGBTQ youth, primarily through the Zebra Coalition®.
The Zebra Coalition® was established in response to the growing number of LGBTQ youth who are experiencing homelessness, bullying, extreme physical and sexual abuse, isolation from their families, and a wide range of life challenges or setbacks.
“We are pleased to make this donation through the Zebra Foundation for Youth to support the incredible work that the Zebra Coalition® is doing in the Central Florida community,” said Bryce West, executive director of the Bryce L. West Foundation and board member of the Zebra Foundation for Youth. “It is the only organization in Central Florida that provides a full continuum of services to this at-risk group of youth.”
The Bryce L. West Foundation is a private foundation supporting the arts, education and organizations that provide services to individuals in need throughout Central Florida.
“By making this gift, we can ensure that future donations, gifts, grants and other financial assistance to the Zebra Foundation for Youth will go directly to client services,” West said.
The gift will support the renovation and operations of the new Zebra Coalition House, located at 911 North Mills Avenue in Orlando. The Zebra Coalition House will provide office space for the Zebra Coalition® staff and offer case management and counseling; medical services; a food, hygiene and clothing bank; laundry and shower facilities; education and career support; a resource library; and a computer center to at-risk LGBTQ youth. The house will also serve other Coalition members as a location for peer support and discussion groups, art and music therapy and educational and therapeutic workshops.
“We are overwhelmed by the generosity of the Bryce L. West Foundation and are so appreciative of this major gift that will be used to help meet the specialized needs of LGBTQ youth in Central Florida,” said Scott Bowman, chairman of the Zebra Foundation for Youth Board of Directors. “The funds will assist in providing individualized programs that help guide them to stability and recovery.”
The Zebra Coalition® is a network of 18 Central Florida social service providers, government agencies, schools, and colleges and universities that provides a full continuum of services to at-risk LGBTQ youth.
“Forty-two percent of homeless youth are LGBTQ and 26 percent of LGBTQ youth who “come out” to their parents are asked to leave home,” said Dexter Foxworth, director of the Zebra Coalition®. “In Central Florida, existing homeless shelters do not have the protocols or the staff to safely take in these young people under 18, unless they are with an adult. Obviously, the majority of youth that we are serving don’t have that adult with them since they have been kicked out of their own homes and are facing issues with finding affordable housing.”
The Zebra Coalition® members include: The Center for Drug Free Living, The City of Orlando Housing and Community Development, The City of Orlando Police Department, The Coalition for the Homeless, Equality Florida, The GLBT Community Center, GLSEN, The Hope and Help Center of Central Florida, Inc., Human Services Associates, Inc., Joy Metropolitan Community Church, Metropolitan Business Association, Orange County Public Schools, Orlando Youth Alliance, PFLAG Orlando, PFLAG Brevard County, Rollins College, Stetson University, and the University of Central Florida.
The Zebra Coalition® is a network of Central Florida social service providers, government agencies, schools, and colleges and universities that provides a full continuum of services to at-risk Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) youth. The Coalition assists young people facing homelessness; bullying; physical, sexual and drug abuse; and isolation from their families with individualized programs to guide them to recovery and stability. The Zebra Coalition also operates a 24-hour youth crisis hotline (1.877.90 ZEBRA), emergency and short-term housing and provides the Zebra Coalition House as a safe haven and community resource. For more information about the Zebra Coalition®, visit www.zebrayouth.org.