The LGBTQ Center Long Beach Joins National PowerOn Program

Straight But Not Narrow’s Andre Pochon, LGBT Tech’s Christopher Wood, and human-I-T’s James Jack talk with youth at The LGBTQ Center Long Beach

Last Wednesday marked the beginning of The LGBTQ Center Long Beach’s participation in the nationally-operated PowerOn program, which provides housing-insecure LGBTQ youth with the technology they need to access crucial online resources.

Last Wednesday marked the beginning of The LGBTQ Center Long Beach’s participation in the nationally-operated PowerOn program, which provides housing-insecure LGBTQ youth with the technology they need to access crucial online resources. PowerOn is donating 14 wi-fi hotspots and 14 Chromebooks to kick off the partnership.

PowerOn works nationally to upcycle lightly used donated technology from individuals and companies, beginning with a certified wipe of all devices, followed by complete refurbishment and distribution to homeless and housing-insecure LGBTQ youth through a network of partner LGBTQ community centers and homeless shelters.

The LGBTQ Center Long Beach serves over 25,000 people a year and offers an array of services including support groups, workshops and seminars, youth services, free HIV & STI testing, legal assistance, domestic violence services, employment referrals, mental health counseling, cultural and social activities including the QFilm Festival, educational forums, and a thriving volunteer program with an active database of over 300 volunteers. The Center also provides meeting space for more than 20 community groups each month.

“The LGBTQ Center Long Beach is honored to be the newest PowerOn center,” said Joel Gemino, Youth Services Manager at the Center. “The accessibility of technology is an excellent tool to help empower our clients and ensure longevity of their success.”

Each night as many as 1.6 million children and teens sleep on America’s streets. Over 40 percent of these homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, which is equivalent to the population of our nation’s capital, or about 650,000 people. Many LGBTQ youth find themselves in homeless or housing-insecure situations after family conflicts over sexual orientation or gender identity. Technology is important for homeless and at-risk LGBTQ youth to stay connected with supportive networks and improve their personal safety. Phones and other devices often provide one of the only LGBTQ-safe and affirming access points to the Internet.

“I’m excited to work with the LGBTQ Center Long Beach and bring PowerOn to the individuals it serves,” said Christopher Wood, Executive Director of LGBT Tech. “It is extremely impactful to hear stories from youth who do not have internet at home, often find themselves completing assignments online at school or in the library, or, as a last resort, are given alternative assignments from a book. When Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel from the Federal Communications Commission references the digital divide or homework gap, this is exactly the situation she is talking about. The PowerOn program strives to meet LGBTQ individuals where they are and the launch of PowerOn in Long Beach does exactly that.”

The Long Beach center is PowerOn’s fifth fully operational partner location. Another 12 to 15 centers are expected to launch in 2018. Partnerships are an important part of PowerOn’s ability to expand rapidly after several years of exploring the value of technology for the youth it serves. PowerOn is operated by Straight But Not Narrow, human-I-T, The Trevor Project, and LGBT Technology Institute. If you have technology you would like to donate to the program please visit the PowerOn website.

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