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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Forty to None director talks about bringing resources together
by Matt Simonette
2014-05-14

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Key components of ending homelessness among LGBT youth are streamlining information and resources amongst organizations facing the issue, and listening to the perspectives of homeless youths themselves.

Those were among the observations shared by Jama Shelton, director of the Forty to None Project, launched by the NYC-based True Colors Fund. Shelton spoke May 3 on the second day of the LGBTQ Homeless Youth Summit, hosted by Windy City Times.

Shelton said that she was once homeless herself, and that she found it just as important to being 'out' about having that experience as well as being out about being a lesbian.

Forty to None came about after donors did a nationwide survey to find out what was needed in order to combat youth homelessness. The name is a reference to the statistic that 40 percent of homeless youths are LGBTQ. "We want to take that number from '40' to 'none,'" Shelton explained.

Forty to None acts as an information clearinghouse, so organizations from different regions can learn what other resources are utilized in other parts of the country. Every two years, Forty to None surveys service providers to ascertain where their strengths and weaknesses may lie. In the alternating years, youths themselves are surveyed in order to determine the scope of their needs.

The information from the surveys is aggregated for a clearer picture of LGBTQ youth homelessness. "The gist of it is we are working on systemic change efforts, mostly at the national level," Shelton said, adding that Forty to None has an intergenerational advisory board to maintain a clear perspective on youth's needs.

The project also is launching an "inclusion assessment tool," wherein organizations can ascertain what additional resources might improve their effectiveness. Shelton added that among the goals of Forty to None, is helping organizations develop community partnerships so that not just gay businesses and organizations are providing safe spaces for LGBT youth. She said that a Tennessee tattoo parlor, for example, was among the first to agree to provide resources in that area. Other examples she gave were libraries and 24-hour diners.

Shelton's organization is also trying to develop "family intervention" initiatives, a concept taken from Canada and Australia. That would allow youths to work towards uniting with families of their choice, not necessarily their birth families.

"Basically, the sky's the limit," Shelton said of resources organizations should be considering. She advised the audience to, among other tactics, continue their work, join her network and "honor the voices of young people."

Links to related coverage and videos below:

Summit panel talks government efforts on youth homelessness at the link: www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Summit-panel-talks-government-efforts-on-youth-homelessness/47409.html .

LGBTQ youth summit looks at homelessness at the link: www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/LGBTQ-youth-summit-looks-at-homelessness/47280.html .

VIDEOS from Closing Day:

Windy City Times Youth Summit: Tracy and Casey On Homeless Film at the link: www.youtube.com/watch .

Windy City Times Youth Summit: YEPP Performs at the link: www.youtube.com/watch .

Windy City Times Youth Summit: Imani Rupert, Youth in Systems at the link: www.youtube.com/watch .

Windy City Times Youth Summit: Luis Roman, Health at the link: www.youtube.com/watch .

Windy City Times Youth Summit: Lara Brooks, Housing at the link: www.youtube.com/watch .

Windy City Times: Angelica Ross, Job Training & Education at the link: www.youtube.com/watch .

Windy City Times Youth Summit: Owen Daniel McCarter, Legal at the link: www.youtube.com/watch .

Windy City Times Youth Summit: Nicole Sutton, Public Policy at the link: www.youtube.com/watch .

Windy City Times Youth Summit Final Day: Breezi, LZ at the link: www.youtube.com/watch .

Windy City Times Youth Summit: Tracy Baim Closing Remarks at the link: www.youtube.com/watch .

VIDEOS from Youth Day:

Windy City Times Youth Summit: Keyshia Laymorris and Jamie Frazier at the link: www.youtube.com/watch .

Windy City Times Youth Summit: Monica James presentation at the link: /www.youtube.com/watch .

Windy City Times Youth Summit: Shawne Hinkle interview at the link: www.youtube.com/watch .

Windy City Times Youth Summit: Shaunquel Baker interview at the link: www.youtube.com/watch .

Windy City Times Youth Summit: Keyshia Laymorris at the link: www.youtube.com/watch .

Windy City Times Youth Summit: Robert Vacha interview at the link: www.youtube.com/watch .

Windy City Times Youth Summit: Monica James interview at the link: www.youtube.com/watch .

Windy City Times Youth Summit: David Cal interview at the link: www.youtube.com/watch .

Windy City Times Youth Summit: Breezi Connor interview at the link: www.youtube.com/watch .





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