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2009 Top-Rated Nonprofit

True Colors, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Civil Rights, Lesbian & Gay Rights, LGBTQ

Mission: True Colors works to create a world where youth, adults and families of all sexual orientations and gender identities are valued and affirmed. We challenge all forms of oppression through education, training, advocacy, youth leadership development, mentoring and direct services to youth and those responsible for their well-being.

Results: In 2009, True Colors Executive Director, Robin McHaelen was chosen by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and Lambda Legal Education and Defense fund as one of the two professionals to design and conduct a national master training program for child welfare professionals across the country. The training has been published by NASW and is available on the web as “Moving the Margins: Curriculum for Child Welfare Services with LGBTQ Youth in Out-of-Home Care.” In addition, True Colors staff trained more than 2,400 educators, social workers, clinicians, health care providers, students and others across CT.

Target demographics: LGBT youth, their families and the systems that support them.

Programs: True colors' annual conference began as a field work project for its founder and current executive director in 1994 and its now the largest and most comprehensive lgbt youth issues conference in the nation. More than 3,000 youth, educators, social workers, clinicians, family members and clergy participate in more than 150 workshops, films, activities and events over the course of the 2 or 3 day event. School groups participate from more than half of the communities in ct, from across the northeast and nationally. The conference is open to the public and provides up to 15 continuing education credits for professional participants.

the safe harbor project is a public/private partnership between true colors, the ct state department of children and the ct association of foster and adoptive parents targeting the unique concerns and needs of lgbt youth in out-of-home care. The safe harbor project's mission is to ensure the safety, support and nurturance of all children and youth, regardless of their race, inherent sexuality, gender identity or expression by ensuring culturally competent, unbiased and affirming service by all dcf staff and its contracted providers. The safe harbor project includes a state-wide, policy-focused task force that meets monthly; staff and provider training to approximately 400 youth-serving professionals annually; foster parent recruitment for adolescents regardless of their gender or sexuality as well as individual case consultation. We provide intervention and mediation on behalf of approximately 75 youth annually, resulting in the creation of new foster homes, staff development and improved services. We provide interventions and mediation on behalf of 150 youth in the mentoring program, but we also work with directly approximately 200 youth in the youth development program and train approximately 2,400 helping professionals per year.

true colors provides connecticut's only lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (lgbt) one-on-one and group youth mentoring program. Bringing the benefits of mentoring directly to nearly 100 youth from across the state of connecticut. In addition to one-on-one mentoring with trained and screened adults, this program provides weekly group activities such as game nights, movie nights, dances, etc. These activities provide participating youth the opportunity for healthly peer interactions and social development - sadly lacking for most of the youth we serve.

we work directly with approximately 200 youth in our youth leadership and gay/straight alliance (gsa) programming. This work includes the provision of on-site 6-week activist institutes, annual gsa summits; direct advocacy on behalf of lgbt youth in school based settings; and policy work with various state agencies. In addition, true colors provides cultural competency training for approximately 2400 professionals per year.

Community Stories

4 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

no words can ever describe what this group brings to the table! But for starters it provises , support, education , programs, consultations ,advocacy and all with a high level of skills and nurturence! You ca tell the folks who run it, work there and volunteer do it because they want to, are committed to the mssion and the do so selfishly


Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As a therapist for children and adolescents I have often looked to True Colors to assist in many ways over the last 10 years. Robin and her staff are incredibly responsive and helpful. Robin has also done some training for myself and colleagues and no one leaves without an incredible amount of insight of how to assist all children and families. They are incredible.


Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

True Colors is a great, cutting edge organization which is devoted to improving the lives of LGBTQ youth. Not only do they provide direct services e.g. mentoring programs and the largest conference for and about LGBTQ youth in the country, but they also educate those who work w/ youth in a wide range of agencies.


Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

True Colors annual conference has expanded from from a small conference that was held at University of Hartford to a conference that attracts close to 3000 attendees at the University of Connecticut, many of them are professionals. They have added a third day to the conference just for professional working with LGBT youth. But they also have a mentoring program for LGBT kids. They work with to department of Children and Families to place LGBT youth with LGBT forester parents. In addition, True Colors is a member of the Anti-Discrimination Coalition working to pass a gender inclusive anti-discrimination law.