COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO. For 30 years, Inside Out Youth Services has been southern Colorado’s only LGBTQ+ youth community center. We advocate for and alongside young people ages 13-22 to build self-reliance and community resilience; in 2019, we served 346 unique youth from 48 different schools, making 2,858 visits to attend evidence-based programs at our drop-in center. Since temporarily closing the doors to our physical space in the wake of COVID-19, it has become evident that we must expand our mission to include direct services to young people and their families experiencing acute financial need, specifically housing and food insecurity. Download the official news release here.

Earlier this week, Inside Out opened a landing page and application for aid in response to an expressed need to receive direct services that include rent and utility assistance, grocery gift cards, and support accessing medical and pharmaceutical care. Our goals are to alleviate stress and suffering amongst the LGBTQ+ community, prioritizing our current youth and their families. The negative impacts of loneliness and fear of the present and the future can-not be underestimated, and the current disruption in social connection will likely lead to an uptick in mental health crises. Our work is designed to provide upstream prevention of suicide, substance use, and violence against our young people; the isolation and financial ramifications of COVID-19 exacerbate mental health and safety concerns, making our work more important than ever.

Thanks to generous funding from The Colorado Health Foundation and the Pikes Peak Community Foundation’s Emergency Relief Fund, Inside Out can now provide: grocery gift cards or food deliveries; homemade masks, laundry access, and cleaning supplies; rent and/or utility assistance; greater awareness of our mental health services for young people; and provide connections to other local relief resources to as many individuals and families as possible.

The LGBTQ+ youth population is one of the most vulnerable, not just in our community but on a national scope. A significant portion of our youth population are residents of southeast Colorado Springs and/or people of color whose families we know are being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 due to the impact of structural racism and health inequities. Inside Out has strong, long-standing partnerships with many local nonprofit agencies that serve the most marginalized members of our community and we have already begun to coordinate our activities to ensure that direct services such as food and housing support are available in the communities that need it the most.

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