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LYRIC, SF LGBT center get BofA grants

by Alex Madison

LYRIC youth prepare for their final project, a community<br>presentation on identity and social justice. Photo: Courtesy LYRIC <br><br>
LYRIC youth prepare for their final project, a community
presentation on identity and social justice. Photo: Courtesy LYRIC 


San Francisco's LYRIC and LGBT Community Center each received a $10,000 grant from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation to further the two nonprofits' workplace development programs.

The grants, which were announced June 26, were among a larger economic mobility effort by the bank that disbursed more than $1.7 million to 70-plus nonprofits throughout San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, and Solano counties. The bank stated the high cost of living in the Bay Area as an increased need for workforce development and education opportunities. Something both organizations provide to hundreds of LGBTQ community members every year.

"We recognize that addressing immediate basic needs as well as connecting people to long-term success through skill-building and jobs are critical to achieving greater economic mobility," Thong Nguyen, San Francisco-East Bay market president for Bank of America, said in a news release.

The LGBT center will use the funds for its economic development program, more specifically employment services.

"It's important as a community center that we really look at how our various corporate partners and the community come together and support each other in a time of need," said Rebecca Rolfe, executive director of the LGBT center. "Right now, we are helping individuals get or keep jobs with sustainable benefits."

The employment services program at the center lands more than 100 people a job every year and provides more than 350 people with case management services. Participants head to the center for a range of programs, including resume building and other job readiness skills, networking, career fair events, and career counseling.

The center also works with employers to ensure a diverse and fair workplace culture for people who identify as LGBTQ through its Employer Partners and Diversity Training program. In fact, the center offers the nation's first transgender employment program, which focuses on mitigating the specific challenges trans people face when getting a job from name changes to the placement process, officials said.

As for LYRIC, which stands for Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center, the Bank of America Foundation has been financially supporting its work placement program, called the Sequoia Leadership Institute, for more than a decade. Through culturally relevant training curriculum, sequenced skill-building activities, and mentorship, LYRIC focuses on creating leaders in the community by starting with the basics.

Natalia Vigil, the communications and development manager, said it's the help of corporate influences like the foundation that enable LYRIC to give more than 100 teens a year the knowledge and abilities to properly prepare them for the workforce.

"Corporate and community support are essential to LYRIC's work in the community," Vigil said. "We really want our youth to be leaders in the community and they can't do that without basic needs, work development, case management whatever it may be."

Vigil also spoke about the unique aspect of the nonprofit's paid work opportunities for LGBTQ teens, including those who are undocumented. Out in the City is a program where youth ages 14-17 work 10 hours a week at $13 an hour in various jobs. The second work-based learning opportunity called LYRIC Fellows focuses more on hard skill development and pays youth ages $16 hourly. Many LYRIC fellows go on to become LYRIC staff members and even board members, Vigil noted.

"It's really powerful to be able to offer paid opportunities to queer youth," Vigil said. "All of the funds are going to the immediate needs of transition age youth on up to adulthood."

Both the nonprofit representatives spoke about their appreciation for the bank's donations, importance of corporate support within the LGBTQ community, and the continued efforts of the organizations to provide vital services for their patrons.

"We really appreciate our partnership with Bank of America, who has been a longtime supporter of the center," Rolfe said.

Other LGBTQ, LGBTQ-friendly, and HIV/AIDS organizations that received grants include Glide Memorial Church, for its various social service programs; Larkin Street Youth Services; Meals on Wheels; Project Open Hand; San Francisco AIDS Foundation; and Youth Radio.



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