From its modest beginnings as a meeting space in a basement in Columbus, Ohio, today Kaleidoscope Youth Center offers a community where LGTBQIA+ youth can forge connections and find the services they need to thrive. With a drop-in center providing support and activities in person, plus virtual services via Zoom, Kaleidoscope has become a safe space for young people in the Columbus area and beyond.
As one young person said, “I was really worried about what people were going to think about me. And this place is like, you do it your way, you do what you want, you are you.” Another person said, “I feel like Kaleidoscope was there to save me.”
As the nonprofit grew, Kaleidoscope staff knew there was more work to be done, and one area in particular stood out: mental health.
According to The Trevor Project’s national 2023 mental health survey, 41% of LGBTQIA+ youth in the United States seriously considered attempting suicide, while 56% of LGBTQIA+ youth who wanted mental health care were not able to get it.
Parents’ healthcare insurance often won’t cover treatment, and even if the young person gets access to a therapist or counselor, it’s difficult to find someone who understands the specific challenges LGTBQIA+ youth face. They may not even be supportive. This is especially the case for trans youth.
Kaleidoscope staff saw the solution: Expand and introduce a community wellness initiative where LGBTQIA+ youth could access free mental health services.
But this required additional funding.
Zoom Cares, our social impact arm, found Kaleidoscope through community advisors as part of our participatory grantmaking model, rooted in trust-based philanthropy. Kaleidoscope received an unrestricted grant from Zoom Cares to pursue the strategy of their choice.
As part of the support, Kaleidoscope staff participated in a capacity-strengthening program led by Raise for Good, where they were able to learn alongside other nonprofit peers. Together, they workshopped strategies and bolstered skills, including around fundraising, communication, and leadership.
The timing was perfect. Kaleidoscope had the funds and the strategic support to expand. And, importantly, they already had the hybrid model that could support the expansion.