Jazz Owners, Imagine Dragons Singer, Apple CEO Donating $4M To LGBTQ Youth
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah Jazz owners Ryan and Ashley Smith, Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds and his wife Aja Volkman, and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced they are donating $4 million to help provide safe homes for LGBTQ youth.
The funds are going to Utah-based Encircle, which is working to build eight new LGBTQ+ youth centers across Idaho, Nevada, Utah and Arizona.
.@encircle2gether provides safe, loving places for LGBTQ+ youth. Their motto of no sides, only love brings families and communities together. Grateful to partner with @tim_cook and @DanReynolds to help take Encircle to the world. pic.twitter.com/KfPiZkEVac
— Ryan Smith (@RyanQualtrics) February 25, 2021
According to a statement from Encircle, the nonprofit has served more than “70,000 individuals and funded thousands of family and youth therapy sessions, providing a lifeline to those facing suicidality, isolation and depression, helping them build local community and forge a path forward. It’s been an especially urgent need during the pandemic, which has cut off many more young people from their friends and other support systems outside the home.”
The Smiths are contributing $2 million. Reynolds and Volkman are donating Reynolds’ childhood home in Las Vegas, which is valued at $1 million. And Apple will donate $1 million as well as contribute “products that promote digital connection, creativity and education,” according to Encircle.
“All LGBTQ+ people should feel safe and supported enough to be open about who they are with their community and themselves,” Cook said in a statement. “Encircle is helping to bridge divides and bring people together — sending a powerful message that the greatest thing you can aspire to become is who you truly are. It’s my hope that every young person who feels alone or unsupported can find connection and community at this incredible organization.”
The best gift we can give young people is empowering them to be themselves. Honored to join forces with @RyanQualtrics and @DanReynolds to support the great work @encircle2gether does serving LGBTQ+ youth. Thanks @RobinRoberts for a wonderful conversation. https://t.co/6pigYU8XDE https://t.co/FFIdxFgkXA
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) February 25, 2021
“Studies repeatedly have shown that LGBTQ+ youth across the country struggle with depression and suicidality far more than their heterosexual peers, and the pandemic has made that sense of isolation so many feel harder than ever before,” Ryan Smith said in a statement. “We strive to give these kids a positive and loving environment that builds support within their communities where they can realize their full potential, and it works – we have not lost a single youth to suicide. This incredible support makes our nationwide expansion possible and will improve countless LGBTQ+ lives – reminding them that they are perfect, just as they are.”
Thursday announcement comes on the heels of a new Gallup poll that shows more Americans than ever are identifying as LGBTQ+, with younger people driving the numbers.
The number of those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer jumped from 4.5% to 5.6% since Gallup’s last poll in 2017. Young adults aged 18 – 23 accounted for 15.9% of LGBTQ American adults.
It also comes ahead of a U.S. House of Representatives vote on the Equality Act, which would amend the country’s civil rights laws to explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identification as protected when it comes to housing, employment, education and public accommodations.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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