Contact: Mordechai Levovitz LMSW
For Immediate Release: 2/23/2016
JQY is the recipient of the "Natan Grant for ROI Entrepreneurs"
Grant will allow an expansion of JQY Teen Programming including the first ever LGBTQ Jewish Teen Drop-In Center in NYC
New York, NY: JQY (Jewish Queer Youth) provides support, crisis and educational resources on behalf of at-risk LGBTQ youth in traditional Jewish communities. JQY specializes in creating programming tailored to Jewish queer youth growing up in potentially rejecting environments including Orthodox, Hasidic and Sephardic populations. JQY is the largest direct service provider of all LGBTQ Jewish Youth programming in New York. Programs include youth support groups, one-on-one counseling, holiday programming, and family intervention work. JQY also creates LGBTQ sensitivity training opportunities for Orthodox educators, mental health professionals, Orthodox High schools and rabbis.
In New York City, 74% of Jewish youth are growing up in Orthodox homes (NYTimes, 2012). LGBT Jews from Orthodox Jewish communities face higher levels of homophobia as well as family and communal rejection (Safran, 2012). LGBTQ teens from rejecting families are eight times more likely to attempt suicide (Family Acceptance Project, 2009). This means that the vast majority of NYC's LGBTQ Jewish youth face significant challenges and are a particularly vulnerable cohort. JQY Teen Program is the only initiative in NYC designed to address the specific needs of this population by offering culturally competent direct support, social, crisis, and educational resources.
In January 2016 it was announced that JQY was chosen as the recipient of the"Natan Grant for ROI Entrepreneurs" to expand its teen programming. The Natan Fund is a giving circle based in New York City supporting Jewish and Israeli social innovation. JQY's co-founder and Executive Director, Mordechai Levovitz LMSW is a member of the ROI Community, an initiative of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation that connects and supports emerging Jewish leaders around the globe. The Natan Fund calls this JQY initiative "a perfect fit for Natan's mission of providing early-stage funding to develop creative strategies that address central challenges facing the Jewish people."
The funds will be used to build on JQY Teen Programming including providing more teen phone support hours with licensed social workers, hiring additional mental health professionals at JQY's monthly Long Island Orthodox high school teen support group, organizing Orthodox high school guidance counselor sensitivity trainings, creating a Jewish LGBTQ young adult leadership retreat, and launching the first ever Jewish LGBTQ Teen Drop-In Center in NYC. The JQY Teen Drop-In Center will offer weekly multiple programming tailored toward the different specific needs of at-risk LGBTQ Jewish youth, including trans support, STD safety, and suicide intervention. Staffed by four licensed social workers, and two interns, the JQY Teen Drop-In Center will be a professional, welcoming and Jewish safe space for all LGBTQ teens in need.
Sean Herzfeld, a 16-year-old JQY member who recently came out in his Orthodox high school, points out that “It’s not enough to simply tell LGBT teens in religious communities that It Gets Better later, we have to provide the programming to make it better now...and that’s what JQY does.”
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