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LGBT Technology Institute

Mission: The LGBT Technology Institute (LGBT Tech) is the nation’s premier organization working to bridge the technology gap for all lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) individuals.

Community Need: Currently, over 2.2 million youth sleep in the cold, rain and snow on America’s streets and 40% of those youth, or about 650,000, identify as LGBT. 650,000 youth is equal to 8.6 times the population of Augusta County. In Virginia one is twice as likely to meet an LGBT individual as a non-LGBT individual when approaching someone between the ages of 18-24. LGBT Tech recognize areas like the Shenandoah Valley have very limited resources for LGBT individuals, especially for youth, yet they have an estimated 3,400 living in the Shenandoah Valley.

Based on their research, many LGBT youth end up being forced out on the streets after coming out to family and friends as LGBT. Some of their youth build up the courage to come out but many are outed unexpectedly and have no alternative plans or supportive networks in place. LGBT Tech’s PowerOn program will work in the Shenandoah Valley to give these LGBT youth access to the Internet through devices like phones, tablets or computers, as well as access to low cost connection options.

Constituents Served: Over the past five years their programs served thousands in seven major cities across the U.S., and their work is used to support the LGBT community at the federal, state, and local government levels. Their PowerOn program has allowed them to install computer labs and provide individuals with devices so LGBT youth could complete homework assignments, apply for jobs and internships, access information about supportive resources and medical care, and more. Last year, their program distributed, or provided access to, technology for 5,500 youth (aged 15-24) through their network of partner centers.

Primary Activities: LGBT Tech works with individuals and communities and engages in research, education, volunteerism, and partnerships to provide cutting-edge technology and resources to improve the lives of LGBTQ individuals, especially those who are disadvantaged.  PowerOn has taken in tens of thousands of dollars of technology, recycled (UPCYCLED) it, and redistributed it through one of their seven current PowerOn Centers across the country. PowerOn will be a lifeline that currently does not exist in this community.  Basing LGBT Tech’s global headquarters in downtown Staunton, is an opportunity to serve the local community through programs like PowerOn but also provide a local welcoming and affirming space for LGBTQ individuals. Their programs, doors, and space will be open to community organizations and individuals so they can gather and innovate in a progressive space.

LGBT Tech work directly with LGBTQ-exclusive or supportive homeless shelters, LGBTQ centers, and other organizations working with homeless LGBTQ youth to provide these devices. Their equipment can be used in the organization’s building or be distributed to a qualified young person who has completed a program and has found stable housing. By offering a wide range of connection points, LGBT Tech meets the youth where they are and offers them an opportunity to take control. The downtown Staunton PowerOn headquarters will serve as a central point in the valley for LGBT individuals to visit.

Amount Requested: $10,000

Operating Budget: $270,000

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