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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

3 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


Rating: 5

I give to this organization because I believe in what they are doing and how they are helping our young people to grow, blossom, and just be the great people that they are. The staff is very dedicated to and I am happy to be able to contribute as I feel that they are very deserving.



Rating: 1

True Colors is an organization that is dishonest as best. They fail to present both side of the issue of homosexuality to youth. The youth that they serve are very vulnerable and they come to programs run by this organization often with the question "What do I do? I think I might be gay." Youth served are always encouraged to explore the path of homosexuality rather than the path of heterosexuality or celibacy. The leadership of this group will not dare tell their clients that homosexuality may be a CHOICE! It's a shame that such a biased group has been allowed to have such an influence on our kids.



Rating: 5

True Colors is an amazing organization. I happened upon the organization by chance - Kamora, director of the mentor program, sat and chatted with me during a non-GLBT event at which I was set to present. I was more excited about the mentor program than my event and followed up with Kamora about the organization later on. As a lesbian who made it through her teen years, I immediately thought of how different my life might have been had I the opportunity to have a GLBTQI mentor, a GSA, or a organization like TC. I then met Robin, executive director, and I learned of the myriad of services offered by TC and I was officially hooked. I joined the Board and became a mentor. The importance of the organization cannot be downplayed. Although our community has seen so much progress we have so far to go. Bullying of GLBTQI youth continues, suicide rates for our youth is up, and there are not enough support services for kids in this population. True Colors offers so much hope and support to Connecticut's youth each day. And once a year they go global and host the largest GLBTQI youth conference. If you haven't attended the conference you should - GLBTQI or an ally - it is amazingly empowering to sit in a room with 3000 GLBTQI and ally youth. Yes, I wish I had this organization when I was younger - I wish I had at least one person who then could have tole me what Robin, Kamora, Leah say each day to a kid - there is nothing wrong with you for being gay. To be involved with the organization is a blessing. True Colors gets my highest praise!