2022 Grants Challenge

Providing LGBTQ+ Youth Emotional Safety Through Mentoring

Idea by Rainbow Labs

Utilizing the protector factors of caring adults as mentors to support the emotional safety of LGBTQ+ youth, we are acting on our best practices to launch a series of mentoring labs. Over one year, we’ll engage 80 LGBTQ+ youth in three labs - Storytelling, Accelerator, and Youth Council. Youth will meet weekly with their peers and mentors for formal and informal mentoring activities. Mentors will also build individual and uniquely identified support for their mentees in informal one-on-one time.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Community Safety

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

County of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

LGBTQ+ youth face an emotional and physical safety crisis. A CDC 2021 report on teen mental health states that 20% of LGB students report physical abuse by a parent or other adult at home. The 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey shows that LGBTQ+ high school students reported being bullied on school property (32%) and cyberbullied (26.6%.) Trevor Project found that 39% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past 12 months. With over 10% of youth in California schools identifying as LGBTQ+, these numbers are startling. Typically, youth mentoring programs protect against these factors, but there is a significant gap in programming for LGBTQ+ youth. MENTOR National, a national mentoring organization, states for every 5,000 youth mentoring programs, only five focus on LGBTQ+ youth. A recent report by MENTOR suggests mentoring relationships could reduce feelings of distress among LGBTQ+ youth while supporting improvements in their peer and family relationships.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

Funds will support One Bold Mentoring, a series of two six-week and one nine-month programs from October 2022 to September 2023, reaching 80 LGBTQ+ youth. These programs will become the foundation of our afterschool mentoring program, scheduled to launch in September 2023. We built these programs on our successful One Bold Summer 2021 mentoring program. Results of our survey state that 90% of youth felt the program was a safe space, and 90% said the program helped them understand their identity. One youth said, "I had the opportunity to talk to someone sort of in the same shoes I was in. It was their first time doing this program, and we guided each other to reach an end goal. It helped us build a powerful bond." Our first program, Storytelling Lab, guides youth through identity and self-exploration workshops with real-world applications to their stories. We pair youth in groups with LGBTQ+ adult mentors who provide group and one-on-one mentoring to support. Our second program, Accelerator Lab, challenges LGBTQ+ youth to create their business ideas in teams and pitch them to LGBTQ+ professionals in a final Demo Day showcase supported by LGBTQ+ adult mentors. Our third program, Youth Council, supports the next generation of LGBTQ+ youth through leadership workshops, financial literacy, and career education over nine months with individual mentors. After this series, research and data will support the launch of our planned fall 2023 program.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Mentors are life-changing, especially for LGBTQ+ youth who do not have near as much access to mentors as other youth. In Los Angeles, for LGBTQ+ youth, finding a mentoring program aligns with their needs. Also, they battle the other typical program access challenges such as transportation, time, and cost. We envision a Los Angeles where LGBTQ+ youth feel supported, safe, and empowered. No LGBTQ+ youth will face dropping out at school or feel isolated because of who they are. Our program will eliminate those challenges and increase access to mentoring for LGBTQ+ youth. LGBTQ+ youth will move on from our program graduating high school and college, forming deep relationships with their peers, and building the next new world-changing business In this grant year, we plan to reach 80 youth and engage 25 LGBTQ+ adult mentors. Over five years, we plan to engage 1,000 youth and 500 mentors to expand our reach to additional afterschool providers.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

This program is an expansion building on the success of all our work over the last year. Each of the proposed programming labs were successfully run in 2021-2022. We're now expanding the foundation of our success where we go from a series of programs to an after-school program. Program goals include: (1) Build positive mentor/mentee relationships; (2) Build positive peer relationships; and (3) Provide an environment for LGBTQ+ youth that is safe and inclusive. We'll conduct a post-program survey with youth and mentors to measure these goals. We anticipate the following outcomes: • 90% of mentees report having a positive relationship with their mentor at the end of the program • 90% of mentors report having a positive relationship with their mentee(s) at the end of the program • 90% of youth participants report that they enjoyed connecting to other young people in the queer community • 90% of youth participants report that the program was a safe space for them

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 105

Indirect Impact: 60,000