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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Centers to Support the Independence of Specific Populations, Civil Rights, Human Services, Lesbian & Gay Rights, LGBTQ

Mission: Center on Halsted advances community and secures the health and well-being of the LGBTQ people of Chicagoland.

Target demographics: LGBTQ community of Chicagoland

Direct beneficiaries per year: 365,000

Geographic areas served: Chicagoland

Programs: Hiv servicesstate of illinois aids/hiv & std hotline: for a total of 20 years, coh has operated the state of illinois aids/hiv & std hotline, a free and anonymous service operating daily from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm. The hotline offers individualized risk assessments, comprehensive referrals, and the latest information about hiv/aids and stds to callers from all over the united states and even from abroad. With a database of 2,600 statewide referral services, health educators provide callers with a wealth of information regarding local health, social and support services. Yearly, we reach more than 10,000 diverse callers. Hiv testing and prevention: coh launched its highly successful hiv testing and prevention program in may, 2008. In fy14, we performed 3986 tests (1% positivity rate) reaching msm, hrh, mtf and spanish-speaking persons. The program provides free, rapid, and confidential hiv testing to clients on an appointment or walk-in basis. Clients who test positive for hiv, or who need additional support services, are linked to internal or external providers. Hiv support services: coh offers msm, mtf, hiv+, and spanish-speaking individuals who come through our testing program up to eight hours of free, short-term therapy/supportive counseling. This helps newly diagnosed individuals acquire a deeper understanding of their status and transmission risks, and lessens their anxiety. It has also proven to be an effective, safe opportunity for the health educator to elicit information about sexual and needle-sharing partners as well as to follow up on referrals to primary care. In fy14, 248 hiv+, high risk hiv negative and potentially high risk negative clients were provided with 200 hours of individual or couples counseling. Clients wanting more long-term mental health treatment can enroll in coh's behavioral health services, where hiv+ clients are eligible for low-cost or free therapy through our ryan white part a grant. Clinical health educators also offer five weekly hiv+ support groups, one for 18-34 year olds, two for 35+, one of mixed ages, and one hiv+ art therapy studio group. The model for the groups was developed after a thorough review of group services already available on chicago's north side. Because many groups in our area are open and peer-led, we developed a closed, therapist-facilitated model as an alternative. Group topics include disclosure of hiv status, medication, side effects, symptoms of hiv disease, dating, relationships, sex, safer sex, confidentiality, availability of medical and social services, aging, and substance use. In fy14, 75 unduplicated hiv+ clients were served through seventeen 10-week groups. In cy12, coh launched new risk reduction counseling and online programs targeting high risk adults on the north side of chicago and high risk youth throughout the city.

youth servicessince 1978, center on halsted has served the needs of lgbtq youth in chicago. Broadly, the youth program at center on halsted supports youth as they advance lifelong achievement goals and become productive adults through a comprehensive program which helps youth increase their sense of self-respect and confidence, while gaining the knowledge and skills needed to attain educational, personal, and other life goals. The youth program consists of the expect more program-the center's core program serving lgbtq youth and allies aged 13-24. Each week, 400 youth engage in comprehensive programming and services designed to support their transition to successful adulthood. Program components include health and wellness, arts and culture, sports and recreation, sexual health and identity, leadership and activism, vocational and professional development, and critical thinking and education.

community programming servicescoh hosts a wide variety of community and cultural offerings. The center has evolved into a lgbtq cultural destination within the city of chicago and throughout the midwest. Community programs are places for people to gather with friends and explore common interests such as sports and recreation, book clubs, family programming, women's groups and much more. The cultural programs at center on halsted offer a multitude of platforms for emerging and established lgbtq artists to provide an artistic voice for the lgbtq community.

Community Stories

11 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

5

Donor

Rating: 4

Center on Halsted is a great organization for the LGBTQ and allied communities. I believe in the mission and vision to build and strengthen the LGBTQ community through programs, facilities, and services for everyone. That is one of the reasons my partner and I gave to the capital campaign when the building was built and continue to give all that we can each year. The staff is involved, welcoming and very professional. Senior leaders sometimes seem too controlling, but their intentions are in the right direction. Board members I've met are very committed to their roles.

Donor

Rating: 1

Once again the Center on Halsted is confused and off-track. I just found out that the Center hosted the Mr. International Rubber ("MIR") contest a few months ago. I have no problem whatsoever with the MIR and encourage their efforts as a community. However, I do have a problem with closing down the Center to hold this contest. For an entire weekend the 2nd and 3rd Floors were devoted to the contest effectively shutting down the social programs that I thought my dollars were supporting. Weekends can be an especially hard time for persons dealing with grieving a spouse or loved one, persons with coming out issues, youth groups who especially need guidance and support. MIR has every right and should continue to have it's contest. But, when the gym is used as a "puppy pound" where men pretend to be dogs and "hump" one another, it is inappropriate for the Center. The competition was held in the theatre where a shower contest was held. Again, no problem. But, the contestants simulated masturbation as part of their talents to win the contest. Clips of the contest were on Youtube but only for a few days as Youtube deemed them inappropriate. There are plenty of age-restricted places for MIR to hold its contest. But the Center is not one of them. Donors do not give to support type of activity.

A separate complaint is that all of the activities in the Center are fee-based but that's another issue.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

The Center is a beacon of hope for our community. It provides an array of programs to serve a diverse community and does it well. The center has saved the lives of several of my friends with mental health services.

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

Center on Halsted used to be a safe place for coming out issues and other issues with respect to mental health, addictions, HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention. It seems to have lost its way - this year it hosted the Grabby Awards. The Grabby Awards are an homage to the gay "erotic" film industry, i.e. pornography. Its amazing and difficult to comprehend how a pornography award celebration honors its mission of "building and strengthening the gay community."

The Center on Halsted has also become a focal point of violence in the neighborhood. The reception desk has had to call 911 several times for incidents of theft, disorderly contact and, most recently, a vicious beating of a man by a client of the Center.

Conversations with some employees of the Center reveal that they are intimidated and afraid in their jobs.

2

Donor

Rating: 1

I found out too late that Center on Halsted was really only interested in corporate contributions and didn't really appreciate individual donors. I also found out about some deceptive and misleading solicitation practices. I won't be donating again. They are apparently very well funded and don't need my not insubstantial donation.

Review from CharityNavigator

3 Tom Hartman

Client Served

Rating: 1

This is a dirty facility, filled with brusque, uncaring people who don't know what they're doing. Their clientele cause continual problems with the neighbors. They only provide programming for select members of the community. Their CEO is erratic and has been known to antagonize community members in public with temper tantrums. A useless money suck in my opinion.

Review from Guidestar

2

Donor

Rating: 5

Every diverse segment of the rainbow community can find services or programs of interest at the Center... and straight allies as well. The lives of so many people are enhanced or even saved by the Center. It's exciting to find a place that is so affirming to all people and builds bridges among us. I love attending films and lectures in the theatre and also seeing the great work being done for our youth and seniors.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Center on Halsted is a wonderful place for all people, if you are looking for networking opportunties or social service programs or simply want to enjoy an art exhibit the Center is for you.

4

Donor

Rating: 5

As a Directors Circle member (donations of $600 more a year) I am honored and proud to be part of such a forward thinking organization. The programming at the Center on Halsted is as diverse as the community it serves. Bravo to the Center on Halsted for providing a plethora of programming choices to the community.

2

Donor

Rating: 5

COH serves a unique role in Chicago's LGBT community for young people, seniors and everyone in between. It offers a full roster of services and the magic where our community comes together.