Zebra Coalition Receives Disney Helping Kids Shine Grant

Posted on: May 22nd, 2012

ORLANDO, Fla.Tuesday, May 22, 2012 – The Zebra Foundation for Youth, Inc., in support of the Zebra Coalition, a network of Central Florida social service providers, government agencies, schools, and colleges and universities, that provides essential services to at-risk Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) youth, received a check for $12,000 from the Disney Helping Kids Shine Grants.

The funding from the Disney Helping Kids Shine Grant will allow the Zebra Coalition to increase bed capacity for homeless youth in Central Florida under the age of 18.

“We are so thankful to our wonderful partners at Walt Disney World Resort for providing us with this grant,” said Jefferson R. Voss, Zebra Coalition Board Chairman and Founder of the Zebra Foundation for Youth, Inc. “It is extremely difficult for LGBTQ youth to find appropriate emergency or long-term shelter,” he said. “Existing homeless shelters in Central Florida do not have the protocols or the staff to safely take in these young people, unless they are with an adult.”

The Zebra Coalition was established in response to the growing number of LGBTQ youth who are experiencing homelessness, bullying, extreme physical and sexual abuse, isolation from their families, and a wide range of life challenges or setbacks. It is the only organization in Central Florida that provides a full continuum of services to this population.

“Each of the Zebra Coalition member organizations provides essential services in various ways, yet not one of them provides comprehensive services alone,” said Dexter Foxworth, Zebra Coalition Director.

The Zebra Coalition members include:

•          The Center for Drug Free Living, Inc.

•          The City of Orlando Housing and Community Development

•          The City of Orlando Police Department

•          The Coalition for the Homeless

•          Equality Florida

•          The GLBT Community Center

•          GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network)

•          The Hope and Help Center of Central Florida, Inc.

•          Human Services Associates, Inc.

•          Joy Metropolitan Community Church

•          Metropolitan Business Association

•          Orange County Public Schools

•          Orlando Youth Alliance

•          PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) Orlando

•          PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) Brevard County

•          Rollins College

•          Stetson University

•          University of Central Florida

The primary goal of the Zebra Coalition is to meet the specialized needs of LGBTQ youth by providing each young person with an individualized program that helps guide them to stability. A strategic plan for a continuum of care, based on the individual needs of the client, is established once a young person has been assessed by the Zebra Coalition.

The Zebra Coalition is a network of Central Florida social service providers, government agencies, schools, and colleges and universities that provides a full continuum of services to at-risk Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) youth. The Coalition also operates a 24-hour youth crisis hotline (1.877.90 ZEBRA) and provides the Zebra House as a safe haven and emergency overnight shelter. For more information about the Zebra Coalition, visit http://www.zebrayouth.org and http://www.facebook.com/zebracoalition.

Photo: Dexter Foxworth, Director, Zebra Coalition and Jefferson R. Voss, Zebra Coalition Board Chairman and Founder of the Zebra Foundation for Youth, Inc. with Sharon Smoley, Government Relations Manager, Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts U.S.