GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Rapids Community Foundation has launched a new initiative called the LGBT fund with a goal of helping lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender kids who are homeless.
Representatives from the foundation declined to speak to 24 Hour News 8 Friday, saying that initiative is too new and their policy is “go public with anything” until a significant amount of money has been raised.
The fund’s Facebook page said it’s currently trying to match an initial $100,000 donation.
“Grand Rapids is a very unique place,” said Felip Ballesteros, an advocate of the fund. “It’s having a conversation with itself – what it is, what it was and what it wants to become.”
Ballesteros is helping with marketing and communications for the new fund – a role he’s used to. The West Michigan native is the marketing director at GR Current magazine.
He’s also one of the faces for the campaign.
“I was a little apprehensive, or at least I thought about it, not necessarily professionally, but through family and seeing how they would react to it,” Ballesteros said. “Just because I don’t really talk about my personal life to them a lot and I think that’s a story that’s pretty common, especially in very traditional societies.
But, he continued, “It would make me even further anxious, I guess, if I deny that visibility towards the community because it means I’m not being authentic.”
Ballesteros said he hopes the initiative will help the city – and West Michigan in general – become a more tolerant and accepting place.
“[The Grand Rapids Community Foundation is] trying to make it not a thing by making it publicly open and I think that’s beautiful,” Ballesteros said. “I think a dialogue… I think that’s where it has to start.”
Studies are limited, but a survey from The Williams Institute, which is a UCLA School of Law think tank, reports about 40 percent of homeless kids are LGBT.
It goes on to say that 68 percent of those kids “have experienced family rejection,” and 54 percent “experienced abuse in their family.”
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