Anonymous donor gives $50,000 to Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center

The Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center (MGLCC) has received a $50,000 grant from an anonymous donor to enhance the youth services division of the organization.

The program, entitled Youth Empowerment Services (YES), provides emergency assistance to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender teens and young adults who are in need of financial, medical, psychological and legal support.

Will Batts, Executive Director of the MGLCC, said the grant could not have come at a better time. Since its inception, the YES program has had more youth in need than the program could financially support, especially with the limited staff and volunteers able to commit to the program.

“The suicide rate among gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender teens is 2-3 times that of heterosexual youth,” Batts said. “The rates of homeless youth are much higher as well. We can’t continue to let that happen in our community. In the past few months, we have barely been able to keep up with the number of kids who need our help. We haven’t had the resources or the staff to provide for all of these kids. Thankfully, this grant will provide the next steps in ensuring a better future for all youth in need of our services. “

Volunteers and staff admit to providing support from their own pockets to compensate for the large number of youth needing help. Plans to increase the capacity of the program were already underway because the number of young adults in need of the program grew sharply in the past year, specifically homeless or displaced youth in crisis.

YES also encompasses the other youth-related services at MGLCC including Queer as Youth support group for 14-19 year olds, as well as consultation with other agencies to ensure the well-being of other GLBT youth in the Memphis area.

Batts said the now plans to create a comprehensive program that will connect GLBT youth with food, temporary or transitional housing, legal advocacy, medical aid, and more. Additionally, he said MGLCC will expand its emergency food pantry and clothes closet to meet the needs of youth in crisis and may create a new paid-employee position at the center.

For general information about the Memphis gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer community, call 901.278.6422 or email

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