2019 Proposal: Choosing Our Roots

Name of Nonprofit Organization: Choosing Our Roots
Your name (AWGC member): Heather Harris
Short Project Description (50 words): The mission of Choosing Our Roots (COR) is to ensure that all queer Alaskan youth and young adults have access to safe housing, supportive communities, and opportunities to thrive. COR’s new host home program will serve homeless youth (ages 13-24) who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer (LGBTQ).
The Big Why (300 words): 
LGBTQ youth face pervasive discrimination, stigmatization, and abuse, and are disproportionately likely to experience homelessness. Despite comprising less than 10% of the population, LGBTQ persons make up an estimated 40% of homeless youth. Already known to face higher rates of both adverse childhood events (ACEs) and exposure to trauma than their heterosexual peers, queer youth who additionally experience homelessness are at exceptionally high risk for depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, suicidal ideation and attempts, substance abuse, and other significant challenges. The Municipality of Anchorage’s 2017 Community Plan to End Youth Homelessness identified LGBTQ youth as a critically underserved population in Alaska. Choosing Our Roots (COR) formed as a grassroots response to that unmet need among queer youth in our communities.
In early 2019, COR is launching a full range of services for homeless and marginally housed LGBTQ youth. Using a host home model that has proven successful in many other communities, COR will provide housing options that are culturally relevant, trauma informed, and suited to participants’ unique needs. Recognizing that young people need more than simply roofs over their heads, COR’s youth- and queer-led programs encompass extensive training and ongoing support for host families, intensive case management and material assistance for youth, education and supports for families of origin, coordination with community partners to provide wraparound services, and long-term relationship building with host families and mentors, all of which will empower youth to thrive as confident, resilient young adults. Currently serving in Anchorage and Mat-Su, COR has a strategic plan to expand to hub communities throughout Alaska.

While this project has received enthusiastic support from a wide range of community collaborators and funders, the need is great. A grant from the Alaska Women’s Giving Circle will substantially increase COR’s capacity to meet the needs of these vulnerable and underserved Alaskan youth.
The Bottom Line (Budget summary and what they’re asking for): COR is requesting a grant of $3,600, which represents approximately 2% of the operating budget for 2019. Almost entirely run by volunteers, COR is able to have a big impact while maintaining a lean budget. Funds from the Alaska Women’s Giving Circle would support the expense of stipends provided to volunteer host homes and to youth participants. Stipends for host homes help to defray the costs of an additional household member, thus ensuring that hosting is accessible to people of all socio-economic backgrounds and increasing the diversity of homes available to youth participants. Stipends for youth help to meet basic personal needs, promote independence, and provide opportunities to learn budgeting and other financial life skills, all of which contribute to the empowerment of youth participants. Each of these uses is critical to program success. The estimated cost of all stipends for 2019 is $54,000 of which $25,000 has been committed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Organization contact person, phone number and email address: Jamez Terry (907) 764-6233 rev.jamez@gmail.com