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Nightly in Minnesota, over 6,000 youth experience homelessness. These young people are not homeless by choice. Despite advances in legislation and societal attitudes, LGBTQ+ youth continue to be disproportionately represented among the homeless – with nearly 40% of homeless youth identifying as LGBTQ+. Currently, 23% of youth served at The Bridge self-identify as LGBTQ+ at intake (an increase of 3% from last year). This percentage also rises as youth feel safe disclosing later during service participation. Over 80% cite family conflict/household dynamics as a critical issue. LGBTQ+ youth in crisis need a safe place to stabilize and work through issues, especially youth who are not comfortable being out at home or school.

“The Bridge was founded on the idea that every youth deserves a safe place to be in times of crisis. Today we are proud to further our inclusion efforts specifically for LGBTQ+ homeless youth through enhanced program delivery, increased participation at community events like National Coming Out Day and leadership development for direct care staff.” – Michelle Basham, Executive Director

To meet increased numbers of LGBTQ+ youth turning to The Bridge, and to address the increasingly complex challenges they face, The Bridge was selected to be the recipient of multi-year funding from the United Way Arise Project to focus on preventing and ending LGBTQ+ youth homelessness. This funding will expand services with dedicated staff specifically for LGBTQ+ youth case management; promote LGBTQ+ youth leadership and continue to bring youth voice into LGBTQ+ program design; and increase the cultural competency of staff and volunteers in effectively meeting the needs of LGBTQ+ youth.

As a means to further inclusivity efforts aligned with program implementation as well as leadership development amongst direct care staff, The Bridge is proud to announce Warlance Miner, Diversity Specialist, was selected to participate in the American Express Leadership Academy. This highly competitive program is designed to equip high potential emerging leaders from the nonprofit sector to become successful executives. In partnership with the Stonewall Community Foundation, this year the Academy has invited participants specifically from organizations focused on LGBTQ+ issues.

“At the Bridge for Youth our vision is to serve as a premier resource for diverse populations of youth and families needing support. The American Express Leadership Academy is an opportunity to advance inclusion efforts for LGBTQ+ communities, nation-wide. As a Gay, Native American Man, I understand the fight for equality still continues and I intend to apply all knowledge gained to further provide resource for LGBTQ+ identifying youth.” – Warlance Miner, Diversity Specialist

About The Bridge for Youth
The Bridge for Youth is a safe place for those who no one to turn to and nowhere to go. Founded in 1970, The Bridge for Youth serves homeless, runaway, and abandoned youth, ages 10-17. Services include a 24-hour crisis hotline, emergency and long term shelter, youth and family counseling, and support groups.

Christina Woodlee, Associate Director

Photo: Warlance Miner at Quorum’s 2019 National Coming Out Day Luncheon

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