SMYAL is one of the few places LGBTQ youth, and even adults, can be 100% themselves. I'm glad its here!!
Review from Guidestar
This is such a great place to go! I often don't feel like I have a say in things that matter to me. At SMYAL, I get to help make decisions that impact my life. It's a very fun and safe place. I like that there are more programs for homeless youth. A few of my friends have had problems with their parents and had to sleep outside or at a friends place. SMYAL now has a place for them to go on top of the fun programming. I really love going here!!
SMYAL saved my life. I've been going there for the past few years. Being a young black queer person isn't easy and the other youth, the staff and the programs have been one of the few brights spots for me. I'd recommend this place to anyone! It's the best place for queer youth in the area. I'm applying for jobs now and looking to work in a place that does what SMYAL does, which is make people feel safe, valued and loved.
Review from Guidestar
As a former SMYAL youth who has had a lot of opportunity to be involved in the organization, I can say they I felt exploited, tokenized and unsafe. The executive director is a dragging the organization to into the ground and the programs staff are left in a fragile place where they are no good use to youth. This is terrible because SMYAL prides itself on empowerment, but the employees don't even feel empowered, they all look sad, beaten down and defeated. This organization does not serve the community and should shut its doors. They best thing about SMYAL was the program staff (who all quit)! So sad that it has come to this. SMYAL used to be fun and empowering.
As a SMYAL Board Member since 2006, I'm always proud to ask my network of friends, colleagues and family to support the organization's mission and work. As the needs of gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans and questioning young people have changed over the years, SMYAL has been in the vanguard in identifying those needs and programming to meet them. I'm especially pleased that an organization like this - which was formed to address some very specific situations in the 1980s such as checking young gay people into mental health facilities just for being who they were - has taken up such critical issues as fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic and more recently providing strong LGBTQ young people with the skills and tools they need to advocate for their own rights. SMYAL rocks. SMYAL is relevant, and SMYAL does an incredible job in building up our young people. Investing in SMYAL provides a great return to our youth and our community.
SMYAL stands for Supporting, Mentoring, Youth Advocates and Leaders by empowering LGBTQ youth throughout the Washington, DC metropolitan region. Since 1984, SMYAL has helped thousands of youth through providing shelter, counseling, safe social programming, leadership training and starting in 2013, it will support Gay/Straight Alliances in the region. No other organization is solely focused on supporting LGBTQ youth. It has been recognized by various local and national organizations for it leadership in advocating for LGBTQ youth and its clear, consistent focus on developing youth leadership and advocacy skills so that youth are able to advocate for themselves and others.
For nearly 30 years now, SMYAL has been the leading organization dedicated to supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.
Every week, SMYAL opens the doors of its Capitol Hill youth center and provides peer support groups and educational workshops as well as safe social activities such as movie nights and even an annual drag competition.
SMYAL’s reach extends beyond the four walls of its youth center. Each year, SMYAL organizes special events such as youth dances and open mic nights throughout the region. SMYAL staff members also facilitate LGBTQ youth awareness training to teachers, social workers, and other providers to make their spaces affirming for all young people.
This year, SMYAL also launched a major new program effort to support LGBTQ youth through gay-straight alliance clubs in our local schools, extending SMYAL’s impact throughout DC and into the suburbs.
SMYAL makes a huge impact with a small staff and a small budget.