The Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation

NEST: Collaborative to Prevent LGBTQ Youth Homelessness Harris County

Grant Information
Categories Community
Location South Texas
Cycle Year 2015
Organization Information
Organization Name (provided by applicant) the Montrose Center (Montrose Counseling Center, Inc.)
Organization Name (provided by automatic EIN validation)
Contact Information
Contact Name Michael Ator, msw
Phone 713-800-0811
401 Branard Street FL 2
Additional Information
Used for NEST is a collaborative of Houston/Harris County community stakeholders charged with preventing and ending homelessness for adolescents and young adults who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or those who are questioning their sexual or gender identity, by 2020. As managing agency, the Montrose Center is requesting a second grant of $20,000 from The Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation to continue to cover costs associated with implementation of the strategic plan that began in 2015. During this phase through year-end 2016, the Center will deliver cultural competency training to youth providers, and coordinate capacity expansion throughout the existing network of providers, schools and law enforcement to address LGBTQ youth homelessness through policy change and adoption of best practices.
Benefits Overall, the NEST initiative will promote stable housing, permanent connections, education, employment, and social and emotional well-being among LGBTQ youth as a means of preventing homelessness and other risks. Short-term outcomes include expanded local partnerships, identification of community needs, identification of evidence-based or promising practices, identification & promotion of existing resources, identification of strategies to support and sustain the collaborative, and increased participant & community awareness and engagement surrounding LGBTQ youth homelessness.
Proposal Description NEST estimates the number of homeless school‐aged youth who identify as LGBTQ in the Greater Houston Area to be between 2,500 (20%) and 5,000 (40%). With only 5-7% of all youth identifying as LGBTQ, it is evident that these youth are disproportionately affected. To now, a typical reaction to the problem has been to create individual programs targeting LGBTQ youth, as well as a drive to increase shelter capacity. These solutions have only scratched the surface of the issues, and generally have little to no effect long-standing policies and attitudes that have worked to keep LGBT youth out or away from the very safety nets that were designed to catch them.

NEST represents the first coordinated effort to break down these programmatic “silos” and allow the synergy of experienced, skilled and concerned people with different backgrounds to tackle a problem that they share a strong interest in resolving. Ninety-two (92) organizations and individuals were involved in the initial planning of the NEST initiative. Leading organizations such as the Coalition for the Homeless, Harris County CPS, Harris County Juvenile Probation, the Montrose Center, Salvation Army, Covenant House Texas, and University of Houston are now heavily invested in the implementation phase. NEST also has community members, not affiliated with any organization, chairing and serving on subcommittees. NEST is truly a coalition reflecting the entire Houston community.

(1) Facilitate better local collaboration between stakeholders working with youth to develop & implement a comprehensive community strategy to prevent homelessness among LGBTQ youth
(2) Improve identification of LGBTQ youth at-risk of or experiencing episodic homelessness through outreach, screening & assessment
(3) Identify, coordinate, & improve policies & interventions to prevent LGBTQ youth homelessness across shelter and housing systems (e.g., primary and behavioral health care, child welfare, education, employment, juvenile justice, law enforcement)
(4) Reduce homelessness among LGBTQ youth & improve their outcomes in the areas of permanent connections, stable housing, education/employment, & well-being
(5) Inform national strategies for preventing & ending homelessness among LGBTQ youth
A detailed description of implementation activities under these objectives and a timeline for achievement is included in the NEST Strategic Plan, available December 1.

Each of these priorities has specific focus items to improve outcomes for LGBTQ youth that are aligned with the USICH Framework to End Homelessness in four core areas:
(1) Stable Housing: increase cultural competence in youth shelters and facilities, provide better transition from foster care and find solutions for youth exiting the justice system.
(2) Permanent Connections: increase advocacy for LGBTQ by service providers and connecting caregivers with resources and mentoring support to decrease the number of youth who become homeless from family rejection.
(3) Education/Employment: improve graduation rates by strengthening school policies to support LGBTQ youth, provide material to school districts about how staff may advocate with existing resources and community service referrals, and support at-risk youth with helping them develop employment/career goals that achieve employment.
(4) Social-Emotional Well-Being: reduce barriers for youth to access culturally competent and affirming primary and behavioral health care that includes awareness of World Professional Association of Transgender Health (WPATH) standards of care for transgender youth, as well as increase LGBTQ cultural competence with protective services and law enforcement.
A detailed description of anticipated outcomes and logic model is included in the NEST Strategic Plan, available December 1.

Funding Request
On behalf of NEST, the Montrose Center is requesting a second one-time grant of $20,000 from The Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation to allow NEST to continue the implementation of its strategic plan. This is a critical time for NEST as certain major activities are being carried out, including:
• extensive cultural competency training on LGBTQ youth with frontline providers throughout the Houston area child and adolescent care system; and
• development, dissemination and implementation of best practices in working with LGBTQ youth, especially in the juvenile justice and foster care systems.

The Center has integrated cost of NEST coordination and implementation into its youth services budget, which stands at $318,877 for fiscal year 2016. Costs associated with NEST are 100% community funded, and are not supported by government grants or contracts. A detailed program budget is attached. Implementation of the NEST project is expected to officially end in December 2016. However, some activities, including cultural competency training and policy revisions at the administrative level of certain partnering agencies, are expected to be ongoing.

Personnel involved in implementation consist of:
• A full-time project coordinator (Deb Murphy, BS) who will be responsible for serving as primary spokesperson for the initiative, organizing the collaborative’s ongoing meetings and training sessions, preparing documents, coordinating communications, and providing support to sub-committees. Deb Murphy, BS, the person identified for this position, has served as Youth Services Specialist for the Montrose Center since 2003 and coordinates the Hatch Youth and Safe Zones Programs targeting LGBTQ youth.
• One full-time, or two part-time, educator(s) (vacant) to conduct information sessions about NEST and deliver cultural competency training to youth service providers throughout the Houston area. Recruitment has begun, and the Center anticipates filling the position no later than January 31.

NEST also received support from the Frees Foundation in 2015, and a request for second year of funding is pending. A request with The Simmons Foundation is also pending as of this proposal submission. Both decisions will be delivered in December.

Mission: The Montrose Center empowers our community – primarily LGBT individuals and their families – to live healthier, more fulfilling lives.

The Montrose Center was founded in 1978 as Montrose Counseling Center to address the gap in accessible and affirming mental health services for gay men and lesbians. The Center was one of the first to respond to the emergence of HIV and AIDS in the 1980's and continues to provide HIV counseling, case management, and housing assistance. Today, we are recognized as Houston’s “LGBT center” with

In addition to counseling, the Center provides intensive outpatient treatment for alcohol and chemical dependency [WAY OUT Recovery Program]; violence survivor services for same-sex and transgender domestic violence, sexual assault and hate crimes; programs designed specifically to meet the needs of youth age 13-20 [Hatch Youth], and seniors age 60+ [SPRY: Seniors Preparing for Rainbow Years]. Our LGBT Switchboard 24-hour help line is accessible 24-hours for crisis intervention, peer phone counseling, and information/referral.

The Center provides health education and disease prevention outreach to more than 40,000 individuals each year, and offers training to schools, corporations and healthcare professionals on these topics as well as general LGBT and diversity issues.

The Center has become the hub of LGBT community events and organizing, with 6800 sq.ft. of affordable lease and single use rent space. Resident organizations including PFLAG-Houston, Lesbian Health Initiative, Pride Houston, Dignity Houston and others call the Center home.

With free wellness and learning classes and activities hosted regularly by the Center, plus meetings and events hosted by dozens of other social, civic and nonprofit groups, there is literally something for everyone happening at the Center nearly every day. The Center is an affiliated agency of United Way of Greater Houston and accredited by The Joint Commission in behavioral health.