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SMYAL

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Children & Youth Services, Civil Rights, Lesbian & Gay Rights, LGBTQ, Youth Development Programs

Mission: The Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (SMYAL) is the only Washington, DC metro area service organization solely dedicated to supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth.  Our mission is to promote and support self-confident, healthy, productive lives for LGBTQ youth, ages 13-21, as they journey from adolescence into adulthood.  To fulfill our mission, we focus our commitment and energy on five key areas:  (1) Life Skills & Leadership Development, (2) Counseling & Support, (3) Health & Wellness Education, (4) Safe Social Activities, and (5) Community Outreach & Education

Results: For 25 years, SMYAL has been a beacon of hope for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Reaching out to provide needed services to over 10, 000 youth and critical training to over 5,000 youth workers, our impact in the community has been enormous.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 200

Geographic areas served: Washington metropolitan area

Programs: SMYAL supports and empowers lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth ages 13-21 in the Washington, DC metropolitan region. Through youth leadership, SMYAL creates opportunities for LGBTQ youth to build self-confidence, develop critical life skills, and engage their peers and community through service and advocacy. Committed to social change, SMYAL builds, sustains and advocates for programs, policies and services that LGBTQ youth need as they grow into adulthood. We are the only organization in the metro-DC region solely dedicated to helping LGBTQ youth build self-confidence, develop critical life skills, and change their own communities through service and advocacy. Our youth center on Capitol Hill is a safe space for LGBTQ youth, but it’s much more. Almost every day of the week—even on weekends —LGBTQ and ally youth participate in leadership development programs where they discover how to combat intolerance and advocate for social change.

Community Stories

7 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

SMYAL is one of the few places LGBTQ youth, and even adults, can be 100% themselves. I'm glad its here!!

Review from Guidestar

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

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!!

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

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

2

Client Served

Rating: 1

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.

4 Jeffrey N.

Board Member

Rating: 5

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.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

4

Board Member

Rating: 5

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.