According to Resource Center Youth First member Brandon Fontenot,
Every year, North Texas Giving Day helps Resource Center raise critical funds for Youth First, Resource Center’s community program serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) youth ages 12-18. The only program of its kind in Dallas, Youth First addresses the challenges LGBTQ youth face at home, in school, and in their community, providing meaningful and life-changing programs and activities that build self-confidence and improve the health and well-being of our community’s LGBTQ youth during their critical, formative years. Thanks to the thousands raised annually through North Texas Giving Day, Youth First continues to serve a growing number of middle and high school LGBTQ youth, offering access to an inclusive and welcoming environment where they are physically and emotionally safe and their identities are embraced.
After I came out, I really wanted to meet people with similar viewpoints and experiences, which is what initially encouraged me to go to Youth First. Most importantly, I wanted to find a place where I felt I belonged. I’m a photographer, and over the past few years Youth First has helped me improve my skills because I have gotten to see the world through other perspectives. I have also learned that beauty comes in many shapes, sizes, colors, genders and sexualities. I think programs like Youth First are important because they educate queer youth on many different topics. My advice to newcomers is it can be pretty overwhelming when you first join the program, but I promise if you keep going you will not only make friends for life, you will be a part of a family forever. When I think about what Youth First means to me, really the only word that comes to mind is family.
During my time in the program, I’ve served as Youth First Youth Advisory Council president, and have been an active participant in Resource Center’s Creative Works Summer Camp. Sponsored by the City of Dallas’ Office of Arts and Culture, Creative Works Summer Camp allows youth to explore healthy outlets of self-expression that includes art, creative writing, photography, theatre, poetry, and more. However, it is through the generosity of North Texas Giving Day and the fabulous donors that the Center is able to sustain year-round programming for Youth First and offer activities like Friday Family Dinners, movie and game nights, annual dances, field trips, and support groups that focus on issues central to LGBTQ teens, such as suicide, intersectionality, and gender identity.
* Graphic and photo provided by Resource Center
In 11 years, Communities Foundation of Texas’ North Texas Giving Day has pumped more than $290 million into the North Texas community. In 2019, more than $50 million was raised through more than 169,000 gifts benefiting over 2,988 area nonprofits.