ORLANDO, Fla. – Thursday, April 18, 2013 –The Zebra Coalition®, 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 all youth (LGBT+), has been named one of 38 charitable organizations that are being awarded $10,000 each in IKEA products, services and in-kind donations through the Life Improvement Challenge campaign.
The campaign began last fall when IKEA asked its co-workers to nominate and vote on their favorite local community project, one they believed needed charitable support. The range of needs spanned from furnishing homeless shelters to renovating children’s play areas to supporting low-income community food farms. Enthusiasm among the IKEA co-workers was high, and more than 80 proposals were submitted. Each highlighted an organization that works to improve the lives of people in their communities.
After the proposals were submitted, the IKEA store steering committee selected up to three organizations. Consumers and co-workers then cast their vote for the group of their choice at thelifeimprovementproject.com from March 25 to April 8. Thousands of consumers voted, and the winning charities were announced April 10. The total campaign donation is nearly $500,000 and includes IKEA furnishings, services, design and manpower.
“At IKEA our vision is to create a better everyday life for the many people. We value diversity and believe that children are the most important people,” said Kendra Ferguson, local marketing specialist for IKEA Orlando. “It is our honor to work with Zebra Coalition®, an organization that supports an underserved population of youth in our community. We are excited to sit with Zebra Coalition® Director Dexter Foxworth and his team to design a solution that best meets the needs of this growing organization.”
The Zebra Coalition® was established in 2010 in response to the growing number of LGBT+ youth, ages 13 to 24, in Central Florida who are experiencing homelessness, bullying, extreme physical and sexual abuse, isolation from their families, and a wide range of life challenges or setbacks.
Each Zebra Coalition® member organization provides essential services that, together, provide a full continuum of assistance for Central Florida’s youth.
The Zebra Coalition® members include: The Center for Drug Free Living, Christ Church Unity, 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, Harbor House of Central Florida, The Hope and Help Center of Central Florida Inc., House of Mentoring and Empowerment, Human Services Associates Inc., Joy Metropolitan Community Church, Metropolitan Business Association, Orange County Public Schools, Orlando Youth Alliance, PFLAG Orlando, PFLAG Brevard County, Rollins College, Stetson University, University of Central Florida and The Zebra Foundation for Youth®.
The Zebra Coalition® House, located at 911 North Mills Avenue in Orlando, offers a safe and supportive environment for LGBT+ youth through case management and counseling; medical services; a food, hygiene and clothing bank; laundry and shower facilities; education; and career support. The house also serves other Coalition members as a location for peer support and discussion groups, art and music therapy and education, and therapeutic workshops. Nearly 900 youth visits have taken place at the house since it opened in December 2012.
For more information about the Zebra Coalition®, visit http://www.zebrayouth.org.
IKEA – the world’s largest home furnishing retailer – was founded in 1943 in Sweden. IKEA offers home furnishing solutions consisting of good design and function, at low prices so that the majority of people can afford them. There are currently more than 340 IKEA stores in 41 countries, including 38 stores in the U.S. IKEA incorporates sustainable efforts into day-to-day business and supports initiatives that benefit children and the environment. For more information, go to IKEA-USA.com. For more news from IKEA, connect with us on Facebook (facebook.com/IKEAUSA) and follow us on Twitter (@DesignByIKEA) and Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/IKEAUSA/).