Making our Community Stronger
In 2016, the building that Stonewall Youth shared with several nonprofits for seven years was sold for development. As we investigated our options and talked with a wide range of community members, it became clear that purchasing property is best and most sustainable course of action for the youth we serve, our organization, our community, and other local LGBTQ+ and social justice organizations that need space for offices, meetings, and events.
Creating Space for LGBTQ+ Youth
For 26 years, Stonewall Youth has provided a wide range of services, support and programs for LGBTQ+ youth. Like many nonprofits, Stonewall Youth has regularly paid 10%-25% of its yearly income towards rent. Instead of building equity and increasing an ability to contribute to their communities, many community-supported nonprofits are caught in the cycle of paying rent to for-profit property owners. Is this the best use of the generous donations of community supporters?
For many nonprofits, renting results unpredictability and in a lack of control over their space. Stonewall Youth has also had to move about ten times in its 26-year history. Some of these moves were propelled by positive circumstances, such as needing more space because of expanding programs. (Even these beneficial moves were taxing on our limited resources.) But most of the moves were caused by the problem we most recently faced: being kicked out because the building was sold to new owners who want to develop a building for a different use.
Ownership will assist Stonewall Youth to be more sustainable. Our supporters tell us they want to see their donations, grants, and volunteer hours build sustainable growth of services and programs. Along with supporting our services, our supporters are enthusiastic about investing in property that has long-term benefits for Stonewall Youth, our collaborating organizations, and our community. Our supporter want Stonewall Youth to build its own equity instead of assisting for-profit building owners and corporations to build their equity.
The necessity of dedicated and reliable LGBTQ+ youth space is at the core of our drive to purchase our HQ. Secured LGBTQ+ space provides a safe supportive space in which LGBTQ+ youth can explore and express the complexities of their identities and interests. LGBTQ+ youth -- many of whom have experienced homelessness and other struggles -- want and deserve the permanence of the place in which they seek refuge, build memories, make art, dance, support each other, share skills, heal, and grow. Perhaps even more profound and meaningful is that dedicated LGBTQ+ space provides a sanctuary in which LGBTQ+ youth can simply exist. As they are.
Investing in Our Community
In some ways, Stonewall Youth is like a family wanting to purchase their first home or a business wanting to finally purchase the property in which it operates: we all know that owning a property provides more financial security and is a more beneficial long-term investment than renting.
The community center is a good investment for Stonewall Youth as well as interested organizations and individuals who partner with us. We will purchase the building via a combination of financial streams: donations, loans and investments from community members; funding from private and public foundations; crowdfunding; and a small business loan. The goal is to build equity for Stonewall Youth and other organizations and community members who partner with us. We will join together to ensure that our community will build equity that will change the pattern of rental insecurity for local LGBTQ+ and social justice organizations.
The multipurpose LGBTQ+ community center will serve needs expressed by other multigenerational regional LGBTQ+ and social justice nonprofits. The community center will house and host other LGBTQ+ and social justice organizations. Many of the reasonably priced office, meeting, performance, and fundraising spaces in our community that were once available have been repurposed as condominiums, storage spaces for larger businesses, and other uses. Few of the remaining places areADA accessible. Our space will provide a stable and affordable place for a wide range of people to use.
The community center will be a vibrant and beneficial investment in downtown Olympia.
We love downtown Olympia and want to make an active investment in its revitalization. The community center will host art, music, educational and other types of events that will draw and delight a wide range of community members. It will house an array of organizations and individuals who will work in and contribute to downtown Olympia.
The community center will provide leadership and entrepreneurial opportunities. Our plans for the space include a commercial kitchen, an all-ages performance space, a computer center, and other resources. These will provide income for local organizations and low-income community members.
- We are particularly delighted with being able to host a youth and all-ages performance and event space. Many of the performances and events in Olympia take place at bars and other venues that are immersed in bar culture. By purchasing a permanent LGBTQ+ youth space, we will be able to work with allied organizations to host regular dances, music/spoken word performances, art shows and other events in an environment that is sober and safer. Low-income community members will be able to generate income from organizing events and performances.
- Stonewall Youth is working with other organizations to create a community commercial kitchen. Stonewall Youth participants regularly voice a desire for a kitchen for greater access to healthy snacks, opportunities for community meals, a site to prepare food for fundraisers, and the opportunity to support emerging food entrepreneurs. Several of our allied organizations, such as PiPE (Partners in Prevention Education, POWER (Parents Organizing for Welfare and Economic Rights, Community Youth Services, the Community Kitchen Cooperative, the Thurston County Foodbank, and other groups share this desire. These will provide income for Stonewall Youth and other organizations, and will open up entrepreneurial opportunities for youth, such as youth who want to organize all ages shows, youth who want to teach classes using the computer center, youth who are aspiring food entrepreneurs who could use the kitchen to make sellable items.